The Mariners have agreed to terms with No. 6 overall pick Emerson Hancock, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (via Twitter). The University of Georgia righty will receive a $5.7MM signing bonus that closely aligns with his $5,742,900 slot value.
Regarded by many as the best right-handed pitcher in this year’s draft, the 6’4″, 213-pound Hancock has dominated SEC opposition since the beginning of his sophomore year with the Bulldogs in 2019. Dating back to last season, Hancock has pitched to a 2.31 ERA with averages of 10.3 strikeouts and 1.6 walks per nine innings pitched — including a gaudy 34-to-3 K/BB ratio in 24 innings prior to this year’s shutdown.
Hancock, 21, landed between fourth and seventh in this year’s class on the rankings of Baseball America, MLB.com, ESPN, FanGraphs and The Athletic. His obviously strong control of the strike zone is complemented by a fastball in the 93-97 mph range — Callis notes it can top out at 99 mph — and a changeup that he seldom used in college ball despite the fact that scouts consider it a potentially plus offering. Reviews on his slider are a bit more mixed, though most reports have it as an above-average offering as well.
The Mariners have drafted a college player with their first-round pick in each season under GM Jerry Dipoto, including three straight college right-handers. Hancock joins George Kirby and Logan Gilbert as another high-end, first-round arm to add to a growing stable of impressive pitching prospects in the Seattle system. Given his lofty draft status, Hancock could emerge as the best of the bunch, joining rotation hopefuls Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn as potentially controllable long-term cogs on the starting staff.
Both Baseball America (No. 56) and FanGraphs (No. 78) already rank Hancock within MLB’s 100 best prospects; Baseball America lists him third in the organization behind only Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic — and places him just two spots ahead of presumptive 2020 first baseman Evan White on the aforementioned top 100 list.