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Mariners finalize draft selections
06/08/2004 11:05 PM ET
SEATTLE -- Mariners farm director Bob Fontaine isn't one to rush to judgment. He figures it will take about five years to determine the success of his initial First-Year Player Draft with the organization.

"We're happy with the way our draft went, considering we had no idea where our starting point would be," Fontaine said Tuesday. "Five years from now, we'll know how happy we should be. To be honest and fair, that's about how long it takes."

The Mariners selected 48 players in the 50-round draft, losing their first- and second-round draft choices to the Royals and Twins for signing free agents Raul Ibanez and Eddie Guardado during the offseason.

Fontaine was especially thrilled to get a potential blue-chipper in shortstop Matt Tuiasosopo of nearby Woodinville High with the 93rd pick overall Monday, and also felt good about the variety of players plucked from the talent pool during Tuesday's draft session.

"We wanted to get a mix of younger kids we could sign now and others we could draft and follow," he said. "If things work out, we can get some college kids in our system right away."

The Mariners selected 19 pitchers (eight left-handers), 12 infielders, five catchers and 12 outfielders.

"Our goal was to draft good athletes and have a good balance between pitchers and position players," Fontaine said. "I thought we did OK."

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Seattle drafted 30 players with college experience and 18 high school players. Five of the selections were from the state of Washington, including third baseman Brent Thomas out of Bellevue Community College (15th round); right-handed pitcher Aaron Trolia from Washington State (27th round); right-handed pitcher Matthew "Duke" Welker from Woodinville High (34th round) and left-handed pitcher Nick Hagadone from Sumner High School (36th round).

Welker pitched only four innings for the Falcons last season, but the Mariners were familiar with his potential. He was a member of the Mariners' Area Code All-Star team last summer that also included Tuiasosopo.

Welker has signed a letter of intent to play for Washington State, but the Mariners will watch him closely this summer and they have until the lanky pitcher attends his first class to sign him.

Fontaine said he expects the Mariners to sign between 25 and 30 of the draft choices. They signed 21 of their 50 draft picks last season, including shortstop Adam Jones, the 37th player taken.

"Overall, we're extremely pleased with the quality of players we drafted," he said. "We didn't have a pick until the third round but were able to draft several high-quality athletes, starting with our first pick. We look forward to getting these young men signed and in uniform." Fontaine said the organization has been in contact with the Tuiasosopo family. "Hopefully, everything works out, sooner than later."

Fontaine and the Mariners scouting department scoured the country for talent and it showed up in the selection process as players were drafted from 21 states, including Arizona, California (11), Colorado (2), Delaware, Florida (3), Georgia (2), Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas (4), Utah, Virginia and Washington (5). Also, two players were drafted out of Canada, two from Puerto Rico and one from the Virgin Islands.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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