It wasn’t a matter of if, but when.
With only five rounds and six selections in this month’s Major League Baseball draft, the Mariners made sure that all six players they picked would sign if selected.
On Thursday, the Mariners announced the signing of three of those players, including their first- and second-round picks — right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock and outfielder Zach DeLoach — and right-handed pitcher Taylor Dollard, their fifth-round selection.
“Emerson Hancock fits everything we’re doing with the Seattle Mariners, both in terms of his ability as a player and his character as a person,” Scott Hunter, the Mariners director of scouting, said in a statement. “He is a true power arm who has the tools and the drive to pitch at the top of the starting rotation.
“We believe that Zach DeLoach was one of the best hitters in this year’s Draft after a stellar Cape Cod League season in 2019. He is a complete hitter. He controls the strike zone and has a pure left-handed swing.
“Taylor Dollard just dominated the Cape Cod League last year. He has excellent command and control, misses bats and has a pure feel for pitching.”
All three passed their physicals and were in Seattle to sign their contracts. They could remain here, as all three could be chosen as part of the Mariners’ taxi squad for the 2020 season for developmental purposes.
Hancock, a hard-throwing pitcher out of the University of Georgia, was once projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. But a few shaky outings this spring allowed him to slide to the Mariners with the No. 6 overall pick, where general manager Jerry Dipoto and Hunter couldn’t make the pick fast enough.
Sources confirmed a report from MLB.com’s Jim Callis that Hancock’s contract included a $5.7 million signing bonus. The No. 6 overall pick had a slot value of $5,742,900.
In four outings he went 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA, including 34 strikeouts and just three walks in 24 innings. But in his first outing of the year, he allowed six runs on nine hits to Richmond in four innings. In his third outing against Georgia Tech, he gave up four runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings but struck out 10. In his other two starts, against Santa Clara and UMass, he threw a combined 14 1/3 shutout innings with 20 strikeouts.
Over three seasons at Georgia, Hancock pitched 192 innings and struck out 206 with just 55 walks. He fits the “Control the zone” philosophy the Mariners preach.
He has a fastball that touches 99 mph and sits around 95 mph. His change-up might be his best secondary pitch to go with a curveball and slider.
DeLoach, who was taken with the No. 43 pick out of Texas A&M, is smooth-swinging, left-handed hitting outfielder that can play all three positions if needed.
After two unimpressive seasons for the Aggies, posting a .264/.355/.374 slash line as a freshman and .200/.318/.294 as a sophomore, he changed his approach and refined his swing last summer. It resulted in a breakout campaign in the prestigious Cape Cod Summer League. With a wood bat, DeLoach slashed .353/.428/.541 with eight doubles, a triple, five homers, 23 RBI and eight stolen bases in 37 games.
DeLoach signed for $1,729,800, the slot value for the No. 43 pick.
Dollard is a versatile, strike-throwing pitcher out of Cal Poly who showed the ability to have success as a reliever early in his career and was flourishing as a starting pitcher before college baseball was shut down this season to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
He made four starts, posting a 1-0 record with a 1.67 ERA. In 27 innings he struck out 36 and walked four. Like several other M’s picks, he excelled in the Cape Cod League last year, posting a 1.56 ERA with five saves in 11 relief appearances, including 27 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. He has a deceptive fastball that tops out at 93 mph and three solid off-speed pitches.
Dollard also signed for his slot value — $406,000 for the No. 137 overall pick.