06/02/06 8:00 AM ET
Mariners targeting pitching with fifth pick
Seattle considering handful of college hurlers in Tuesday's draft
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
Fontaine, Seattle's vice president of scouting, realizes that getting such a high pick for the second consecutive year means the Mariners finished poorly during the regular season.
"[Drafting] 30th is our ideal spot," Fontaine said. "When you draft high, there's a reason for it. But you can only think about getting the best player. You have to separate the two and say you have to get the best player you can get and hope the next year you pick 30th."
Fontaine -- who will preside over his third draft with the team next week -- has heard the talk that this draft isn't deep on talent. He's not sure that's the case and, even if it was, it doesn't bother him.
"It seems like every year you hear how bad it is," Fontaine said. "It doesn't matter if it's great or bad as long as we get our share of the good players. We don't pay a lot of attention to the overall quality that people say. We are looking for pitching, and we like the overall depth."
Speaking of pitching, that's the direction Fontaine said the team is leaning with its first pick, preferably a college hurler.
The Mariners are thought to be looking at a handful of college pitchers such as Brad Lincoln (Houston), Tim Lincecum (Washington) and Brandon Morrow (California).
Former Tennessee pitcher Luke Hochevar might be another option. Hochevar -- a first-round choice by the Dodgers last June -- didn't agree to terms with Los Angeles and will re-enter the draft.
A year ago, the Mariners had the No. 3 overall pick and selected Southern California left-handed-hitting catcher Jeff Clement, who advanced so quickly that he opened the season at Double-A San Antonio before he needed two minor surgeries in April.
Can the Mariners find another player like Clement who will blaze a trail through the Minor Leagues at No. 5?
"I think there's pitching that's close [to being Major League-ready]," Fontaine said. "How close you never really know. I think this year has more options pitching-wise than other years. We'd like to get some pitching to the big leagues sooner rather than later."
But before jumping ahead, here is a look back at how Seattle's last three top picks are faring.
Jeff Clement, C, 2005, third pick overall: Clement, 22, was off to a good start at Double-A San Antonio when he was sidelined in mid-April after having two minor surgeries -- one to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and the other to remove bone chips from his left elbow. Clement was hitting .289 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 10 games.
Matt Tuiasosopo, SS, 2004, 93rd pick overall: The Mariners wooed Tuiasosopo away from playing football at the University of Washington, and it's looking more and more like a great move. Tuiasosopo recently returned from a hand injury and has his batting average up to .323. He's made 13 errors in his first 39 games.
Adam Jones, SS, 2003, 37th pick overall: Jones is still learning the ropes of playing center field after being switched from shortstop during Arizona Fall League play. Jones, 20, makes up for his lack of experience at the position by getting a good jump on the ball. Jones also has a plus-arm. A career .284 hitter entering the season, Jones is hitting .229 against older pitchers in the Pacific Coast League. He leads the team with seven home runs and 27 RBIs.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.