With the 20th pick of the first round, the Mariners drafted RHP Joshua Fields of Georgia.
Fields was the Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year in 2008 after recording 16 saves for the Bulldogs. He was 2-2 with a 2.27 ERA as a senior and is the career saves leader in the SEC with 39, the seventh-most in NCAA history.
“Josh has proved to be one of the top college pitchers in this year’s draft,” Mariners vice president of scouting Bob Fontaine said in a statement released by the team.
“We are very happy that he was available when we made our selection. With his potential, we think he can only get better in the future and we are extremely pleased to have the rights to him.”
In his career at Georgia, Fields is 9-11 with 39 saves and 3.55 ERA in 98 games, one start. Fields was rated by Baseball America as one of the top pitchers heading into the 2008 Draft, including the No. 18 overall prospect. He was also rated by Baseball America as the closest college pitcher to the majors.
Fields was originally a second-round selection of the Atlanta Braves in the 2007 draft, but decided to return to school instead of signing with the Braves.
Here’s Fontaine talking to the media about drafting Fields.
Here’s a scouting report on Fields from MLB.com
Fastball: Fields threw his fastball in the 92-95 mph range, sitting comfortably at 94.
Fastball movement: His fastball is fairly straight, though he does throw it from a good downward angle.
Curve: Fields has a plus, plus curve, a true hammer that he throws in the 78-80 mph range. It’s tight and falls right off the table.
Control: His command was fair, but certainly better than what he showed last year. He threw his curve for strikes.
Poise: Fields has a closer’s mentality, works fast and goes right after hitters.
Physical Description: He has a lean, wiry and thin frame with whipping arm action — kind of like a more physical Tim Lincecum.
Medical Update: Healthy.
Strengths: A closer’s mentality, a resilient arm that allows him to throw on back-to-back days and a killer curve.
Weaknesses: His fastball is a little too straight; he needs to continue to show that last year’s implosion is far behind him.
Summary: A second-round Draft pick last year by the Braves after a subpar junior season, he and his advisor, Scott Boras, could not come to terms with Atlanta. So the closer returned to Georgia for a senior season to try and make his junior campaign a distant memory. He was off to a good start and could be the kind of college closer teams look for these days.
Here’s a clip of him getting a save earlier this year against Mississippi State.