Like 2009, the Mariners seem to be in a tricky situation as they have to sit on the curb and watch the lone team picking ahead of them take America's top amateur talent. Of course, the 2nd overall pick that the Mariners expect to take isn't some scrap out of a junkyard. They had some great success selecting Dustin Ackley (at least we would presume) back in '09 and as they prepare for this year's MLB Amateur Draft there might be a little less certainty.
As you may or may not know, UCLA boasts two of the best pitchers in all of College Baseball -- Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole. Bauer and his Lincecum-esque freakish delivery figure to go in the mid-second half of the 1st round. He's a diminutive fella and has some mechanical problems to hammer out but Cole, the other UCLA ace who's been getting the spotlight (and most of it) is now the projected #1 overall pick according to Keith Law, Kevin Goldstein, and many over at Baseball America.
Although it's too early to project and create Mock Drafts, Cole looks to be the Pirates #1 selection and rightfully so. With that said, many of the reasons Cole does project to go #1 overall is not just because he's proved that he is the top talent in America by dominating his division and proving that there's almost nothing he needs to work on before reaching the Major League level but simply for the fact that Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke have seen their draft stock drop significantly.
Purke has lost velocity on his fastball and has dealt with major inconsistencies since the 2011 college season started. The former Rangers first round pick was the projected #2 or #3 pick entering the season while Rendon, Anthony Rendon, was the projected #1. Like Purke, Rendon hasn't performed to what has been expected of him this year but also like Purke, most of his lack-of-performance has been due to to a shoulder injury that has affected him a great deal. However, as Keith Law notes, Rendon is running as well as ever after overcoming a severe ankle injury that occurred back in July.
So the big question if you're a fan or executive of the Mariners is do you really want to select a player with major doubts heading in to the draft? Sure, there's still almost two months until Draft day and Rendon has time to turn things around but the Mariners don't want to make a mistake with the 2nd overall pick and there's no need to take silly risks.
Would it make sense, any sense in the world, if the Mariners selected Rendon, did not sign him, and either wait him out or let him play a season in Indy ball a la Crow or Hochevar? There's no guarantee, but it looks as though the Mariners are going to finish with one of the worst records in baseball this year (it's still early, but just being realistic). If they were to finish with the worst record, they'd be in line to select first overall in the 2012 draft.
If they purposely selected Rendon only to pass on him not only would they get a chance to select a 100% healthy and more experienced Rendon one year later but the second best or even best player available in the country as well. Hec, they wouldn't even have to draft Rendon but guaranteeing them the 1st and 2nd picks in the 2012 draft -- It would sure be less risky than selecting Rendon right now.
Also, as the Mariners system (and infield especially) has some big time depth in the minors it wouldn't hurt to pass on a 5-11 third baseman regardless of what he offers. There's no guarantee Rendon will be a star and it wouldn't make sense to gamble if they aren't 100% sure of his health at the present and for the future. With Purke's aforementioned struggles, there really isn't a "clear" third overall pick as Purke could potentially fall to the 7-10 range.
Keep in mind as well that new additions and changes to the new CBA could possibly change the way the draft works as early as 2012 which might prevent the Mariners from getting compensation for an unsigned pick. Well, as of right now, the Mariners will get compensation for a potential unsigned 2nd overall pick. Who knows what the new CBA will bring.
Back to Rendon, he could turn out fine and prove to have been a great pick at #2, but getting him one year later (if he's still willing to negotiate) or taking someone such as Nick Williams, Kenny Diekroeger, Lance McCullers, or a combo of those three (the projected first three picks in 2012) would be a risk for sure but one that the Mariners can not only afford to make but might benefit from such a choice as well.