Scouting report: Mariners' Emerson Hancock
MiLB.com's Scouting Report series spotlights players who are just starting their professional careers, focusing on what the experts are projecting for these young phenoms. Here's a look at third-ranked Mariners prospect Emerson Hancock. For more player journeys on The Road to The Show, click here. The Mariners have been lauded
MiLB.com's Scouting Report series spotlights players who are just starting their professional careers, focusing on what the experts are projecting for these young phenoms. Here's a look at third-ranked Mariners prospect Emerson Hancock. For more player journeys on The Road to The Show, click here.
The Mariners have been lauded for their outfield duo of
Selected sixth overall in last year's Draft, the 22-year-old came into his own during his sophomore season at the University of Georgia. After going 8-3 with a 1.99 ERA, an 0.84 WHIP and 97 strikeouts in 90 1/3 innings, teams took notice. A somewhat uneven start to the abbreviated 2020 collegiate campaign might have cost Hancock a chance at being the top overall selection -- he was ranked the 14th-best prospect heading into the Draft -- but still finished his Georgia career with a 16-7 record and 3.47 ERA in 33 starts. The Thomasville, Ga., native struck out 206 and walked 55 in 192 innings. He was also named the 2020 Vince Dooley Athlete of the Year as the school’s top male student-athlete.
The moment Emerson Hancock found out he was coming to Seattle. 🙌 #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/rRE60yVf5R— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) June 11, 2020
Even with an impressive array of statistics and projectability attached to his name, the No. 3 Mariners prospect impressed in other ways.
“It’s easy to dream on Emerson Hancock because of the person, but also the ability and work ethic,” Mariners amateur scouting direction Scott Hunter told MLB.com after the Draft. “I was so impressed with him when I went down to Athens, Ga., last January and spent about two hours with him and when we talked to him on the phone as recently as two months ago. The maturity, the whole person and player is really remarkable. ... This is a kid who fits into everything we’re doing as Seattle Mariners.”
Standing 6-foot-4, 213 pounds, Hancock features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and has topped out at 99 mph. He compliments his heater with a strong slider and hard curveball. Although his changeup is a rarely used pitch, it's shown potential should the organization decide to push its development.
Known for an intensity on the mound reserved more for position players than pitchers, Hancock credits his father with helping him find a good balance to his competitive nature when he's on the mound.
"My dad always told me when I was younger you've got to be the calmest player on the field, being the pitcher," Hancock told MLB.com last year. "And I kind of bought into that. But at the same time, there's a competitive and a fiery side that you have. You want to win. And so I've kind of had to walk that fine line, between being under control but also being locked in, being ready, being focused for every pitch."
Thanks in large part to his maturity and college background, Seattle assigned Hancock to High-A Everett to begin his professional career. The right-hander responded positively, allowing one earned run or less in four of his first five starts while holding opponents to a .167 average.
"I didn't meet Emerson until January, but had heard and knew all about his potential," Hunter told MiLB.com last summer. "He was a top college guy with [first-overall pick] potential. We did our due diligence, but after meeting him, I commented that I didn't think there would be any way we'd have a shot at him. To me, this is the easy one. Emerson had plusses across the board, he's already an elite strike thrower ... but we already knew that. Meeting him gave me the chance to realize he's a terrific kid."
Scouting grades (20-80 scale)
"A top high school pitching prospect in Georgia in 2017, Hancock’s commitment to the University of Georgia kept him from being seriously considered in that year’s Draft. For much of 2019, he was the best pitcher in college baseball, though he missed time with a lat issue. He didn’t get to pitch much in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season but was still considered to be one of the best arms in the class. He was taken No. 6 overall by the Mariners, the third straight college right-hander taken in the first round by the organization, signing for $5.7 million, then worked sparingly at the M’s alternate training site over the summer.
Hancock has the chance to have four at least above-average pitches when all is said and done. It starts with his fastball, thrown 94-99 mph. It’s actually fastballs, plural, now because in addition to the hard riding and running heater up in the zone, he’s worked to add a hard running, sinking two-seamer, thrown with the same velocity.
All three of his secondary offerings can be plus at times, with his mid-80s slider serving as an out pitch ahead of his power curve he used more as a prep standout. His changeup features excellent fade and he commands it well, giving him a third plus pitch right now. He’s a good athlete who can throw all of his pitches for strikes. Some minor tenderness over the summer made the Mariners err on the side of caution during Summer Camp, but if he stays healthy, he has the chance to pitch near the top of a rotation."
Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB.