By Shannon Drayer
With the sixth pick in the MLB First Year Player Draft the Mariners selected Alex Jackson, a catcher/outfielder out of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego..
“It’s one of those feelings that is hard to explain,” Jackson said on a conference call shortly after being selected. “The emotions that run through your body, the time you get to share with your family and friends. “It’s one of those things were you are truly blessed.”
Jackson, who many analysts had ranked as the best position player in the draft is 6’2 215 lbs who bats and throws right handed. For the second straight year the Mariners take a right handed power bat with their first pick. Jack Zduriencik on 710 ESPN Seattle said that while he is a nice catcher, the path for catchers to the big leagues is usually a longer one than that of other position players and he will be switching positions.
“I think the one thing is when you have a high school catcher it takes a little while and because of that and the bat is advanced, He’s probably going to hit himself to the big leagues,” he told Wyman Mike and Moore. “We have a young catcher at our big league team now. This kid’s is a corner player for us whether it is catcher 3rd base or the outfield, we have seen him play all three but I think we will put him in the outfield to start with and let him start the bat.”
Jackson does not believe a position change will slow him down.
“That’s one of those things were I just want to get out and play baseball,” he said. “I’ve played multiple positions all my life. Coming into high school outfield, still every now and then. In showcases and travel ball, outfield, 3rd and I’ve caught. It’s nothing extraordinary thrown my way.”
For the Mariners it’s all about the bat with Jackson. Scouting reports have him with plus pull power but also with good power the other way. He’s not speedy but not catcher slow either. His arm rates high and it would seem he could profile well for right field. Once signed, he is represented by Scott Boras, he could move fairly quickly through the organization.
“He’s a kid that we look at as an advanced high school player because of the high school program he has had is one of the top one in California,” scouting director Tom McNamara said. “Has gone though the circuit the last two years, he knows the feeling of what it is like to travel, play for different teams, play in different countries.”
In addition to the high level of high school play Jackson said that he has hit some with a wood bat and doesn’t feel the transition will be a problem.
Zduriencik would not comment on where Jackson would start. The first step is to get him signed. The sooner he can get to the big league team the sooner he can fill a need. A need they targeted. For the second straight year the Mariners took the top bat in the draft, and both just so happen to be right handed. How far off are we from seeing DJ Peterson and Jackson at the big league level? Time will tell, but there is a very good chance that time will be short.