By Todd Dybas The News Tribune
SEATTLE — With prom and other high school obligations out of the way, Alex Jackson stepped into the batter’s box at Safeco Field on Monday after Mariners’ second baseman Robinson Cano.
This, suddenly, is the 18-year-old’s world after Seattle made him the sixth overall pick and paid a reported $4.2 million bonus to sign him.
Jackson, a right-handed power hitter out of San Diego, was officially signed Monday before taking batting practice in the place he hopes to be. He played catcher in high school, but will be an outfielder for the Mariners. Jackson will report to the rookie-level Arizona League Mariners in Peoria, Arizona on Tuesday.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Jackson said of the process.
With his family in the back row at a press conference, general manager Jack Zduriencik and scouting director Tom McNamara to his right, and his advisor Scott Boras to his left, the repeated term from Mariners’ management when referring to Jackson was “power.”
“This kid has a very unique skill set,” Zduriencik said.
Jackson was also well-schooled with his answers. He said he’ll carry his catching equipment with him, but doesn’t care where he plays. He was asked to give a self-scout, yet chose not to, saying he didn’t like to talk about himself.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was rated by Baseball America as the top position player in the draft (and the fourth overall prospect). Jackson was also named to the 2014 Perfect Game First Team All-American and California All-Region First Team after his senior season.
In four seasons with Rancho Bernardo High School, Jackson batted .375 with 35 doubles, six triples, 47 home runs and 127 RBI in 135 games with the Broncos. His 47 career prep home runs tied him with former Indians prospect Johnny Drennen (2002-05) for the all-time San Diego section record. Jackson’s team played for California’s San Diego section championship in all four of his high school seasons, including winning the championship during his freshman and junior seasons.
Pretty has nothing to do with it
Despite Mariners closer Fernando Rodney often taking a circuitous route, he came into Monday tied for the American League lead with 21 saves. Rodney is the fourth closer in Mariners history to pick up 20 saves in the team’s first 75 games. The others were Kazahiro Sasaki (27 save in 2001), J.J. Putz (22 saves in 2007) and Brandon League (20 saves in 2011).
After four consecutive appearances, Rodney had the night off Monday. His ERA is down to 2.08.
Left-handed starter James Paxton will throw 20-25 pitches during a Friday bullpen session. Paxton has a strained left lat and has not pitched in a game since April 9.
“I’m feeling good. I haven’t had any problems,” Paxton said. “I’ve been playing catch and getting my distance out to about 140 (feet). I’ve been getting that long-toss going, and my arm is feeling great.
“It’s just a matter of getting that feeling back. That takes a little time, but that’s expected.”
The promotion of third baseman D.J. Peterson from Class A High Desert to the Class AA Jackson Generals is imminent.
The right-handed Peterson, the Mariners’ 2013 first-round pick (12th overall), has a .993 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) with the Mavericks. Peterson has hit 17 home runs in 269 at-bats.
Peterson and RHP Dylan Unsworth of High Desert were picked as the California League player and pitcher of the week.
Bloomquist receives rare designation
Willie Bloomquist was the designated hitter and batting ninth Monday night against the Red Sox. Bloomquist’s only other DH start was July 9, 2010 for Kansas City at Chicago. He batted seventh and went 1-for-4 against Mark Buehrle in an 8-2 loss. Bloomquist was subbing for Jose Guillen, who had a strained left quadriceps muscle.
The Mariners continue a six-game homestand at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday with the second of three games against Boston at Safeco Field.
Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (1-4 and 4.62 ERA) will face Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy (1-5 and 4.52). Root Sports will carry the game.