NEW YORK -- The Mariners are close to signing left-handed-hitting infielder Kyle Seager, their third-round selection in last month's First-Year Player Draft out of the University of North Carolina.
The deal could be finalized later this week.
Seager would be the highest Draft choice signed so far by the Mariners, who selected 52 players in the three-day Draft, which took place June 9-11. He was also one of three players taken from a Tar Heels team that reached the College World Series for the fourth consecutive year, and he would be the second to sign.
Left-hander Brian Mora, a seventh-round selection, recently reached agreement on a contract with the Mariners and has been assigned to Class A Pulaski of the Appalachian League.
As of Wednesday, Seattle had reached agreement with 21 players, but Moran is the only one among the top 10 picks to sign.
The Mariners have not yet signed their top three choices, including first-round pick Dustin Ackley, also out of the University of North Carolina. General manager Jack Zduriencik had a meeting with Ackley's advisor, Scott Boras, during a recent game between the Mariners and Dodgers, but contract discussions were not held.
Seager is not in the same ballpark as Ackley when it comes to offensive production, but he can swing the stick well. Seager has played both second and third base well, but most feel that he is best suited for the former, where his offensive skill set profiles better. He lacks power but is regarded as a solid offensive middle infielder.
"We're getting there," said Tom McNamara, the Mariners' amateur scouting director. "I would like for it to happen overnight, but these things take time and we're circling the wagons. I feel good about it."
There is an Aug. 17 deadline for the Mariners to sign Ackley, the No. 2 selection overall, to a contract. If he isn't signed by then, Ackley could return to UNC for his senior season and enter the Draft again next June.
Mariners -- Top five selections
|2||CF||Dustin Ackley||UNC Chapel Hill
|27||SS||Nicholas Franklin||Lake Brantley HS
|33||C||Steven Baron||John A. Ferguson School
|51||1B||Richard Poythress||U Georgia
|82||2B||Kyle Seager||UNC Chapel Hill
|Complete Mariners Draft results >|
But the two sides are expected to finalize a deal before the deadline.
Seattle has signed seven of its first 20 Draft picks: Moran, Vincent Catricala (3B, 10th round); Timothy Morris (1B, 11th round); Andrew Carraway (LHP, 12th round); Anthony Vasquez (LHP, 18th round); Eric Thomas (RHP, 19th round); and John Hesketh (LHP, 20th round).
James Jones, the Mariners' fourth-round choice out of Long Island University, took early batting practice with the team at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
"He's a local guy, and we extended him the courtesy of taking some swings," McNamara said of the left-handed batter. "He's a good kid, and we're going to introduce him to [Ken Griffey Jr.] in the clubhouse. Griffey is his idol, so that should be fun."
It was, and Jones was all smiles during the introduction.