By John Boyle
The Mariners signed their top pick from this year’s draft on Monday, and not long after Alex Jackson found himself in the batting cage at Safeco Field in a BP group that included Robinson Cano.
Jackson admitted there were “a little nerves” involved in that session, but called that BP session, and signing with his new team, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“It’s been unbelievable,” said Jackson, an 18-year-old outfielder from Rancho Bernardo High School. “It’s one of those experiences you can only have once in your life, besides down the road playing for the MLB team. It’s definitely an honor and I was very glad I was able to do it. Big thanks to the Mariners for giving me the opportunity, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Any time a high school player is drafted, there is always at least some concern about that player’s signability, but the Mariners were able to get a deal done quickly with Jackson, who also had a scholarship waiting at Oregon.
“It’s a tough decision,” he said on choosing an immediate professional career over college. “It’s two big opportunities in my life, and I think I made the best decision. I’m at a happy place and I’m glad I’m here.”
On moving from catcher, his main position in high school, to outfield, Jacksons said, “I just want to get out there and play. Whether it’s outfield, catching, infield, I just want to get out there, play hard, have a great time and help my team win.”
Jackson will report to the rookie-level Arizona League Mariners in Peoria Tuesday. The Mariners view Jackson, according to Tom McNamara, the team’s director of amateur scouting, as an “advanced high school hitter. He’s got power, he’s a natural hitter, that’s what he does.” But considering his youth, there will be no rush to move him up before he shows he’s ready in Arizona.
“We think he’s going to move quickly, but you just let him play, and his performances will dictate how quickly he moves,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “Right now we’ll let him get his feet wet in Arizona and we’ll see what happens from there.”