SEATTLE — The idea was for Evan White to experience life as a major leaguer.
White, the top pick of the Seattle Mariners at No. 17 overall in last week’s Major League Baseball draft, was at Safeco Field Friday to work out with the current Mariners, take batting practice and meet the media in his first official press conference since signing with the organization.
“It was a surreal experience,” White said. “I can’t put into words how much it meant to me and for my family to be out there. It was an incredible experience and I’m thankful I had the opportunity.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound first baseman played three years at the University of Kentucky. A left-handed thrower who bats right, White was the consensus best defensive first baseman available. Earlier this week he won his second straight Collegiate Rawlings Gold Glove Award for his defensive prowess.
“It means a lot to me because it goes back to putting in the work in the offseason,” White said, “and growing up in the front yard with my parents and putting in the work and taking a lot of ground balls and scoops and stuff like that. It’s nice to see that work pay off.”
Scott Hunter, Seattle’s director of amateur scouting, was more blunt.
“He’s a little humble with that,” Hunter said, noting that White committed just two errors in nearly 1,500 chances with the Wildcats.
White put his glove on display during Friday’s workout. He warmed up down the right-field line with Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, then joined first baseman Danny Valencia to take ground balls at first base as the Mariners began batting practice.
His opportunity to swing the bat came in the final batting practice group with outfielder Guillermo Heredia, catcher Carlos Ruiz and utility man Taylor Motter. White hit 10 homers for Kentucky this season, but is considered to possess better line-drive ability than power.
“The first two rounds I was a little nervous,” White said. “I’m sure you guys could tell. After that I felt like I did pretty well and squared up some balls.”
White did it all under the proud, watchful eyes of his parents, Joe and Erin. Both of White’s parents played basketball at NAIA Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio and were able to make the trip. White’s younger brother, Jarod, and younger sister, Kendall, were unable to attend, as was White’s girlfriend, Kari Weinland.
The past month has been a whirlwind for the entire White family. The Wildcats hosted and won an NCAA regional in Lexington June 2-5. They went to Louisville for super regionals the next weekend where they fell to the Cardinals to come up just short of a trip to Omaha for the College World Series.
Two days later the Mariners took him in the middle of the first round and sent him to mini-camp in Peoria, Arizona, with the other members of their 2017 draft class.
Saturday he leaves at 9 a.m. for Pasco where he will join the Everett AquaSox for their 7:15 p.m. game against the Tri-City Dust Devils.
“It’s been a wonderful (type of) crazy,” Joe White said. “I don’t know how he’s doing it all. We don’t have to do near as much as he’s been doing. It’s been a positive crazy.”
Joe and Erin plan to do some Seattle sight-seeing — it’s the first trip this far west for both of them — and then take in Evan’s presumed Everett Memorial Stadium debut Monday when the Frogs begin a three-game series against the Vancouver Canadians.
“I know a little bit (about Everett) — I looked into it right after I got drafted,” White said in the post-batting practice press conference after donning a Mariners jersey and hat. “A lot has happened since then so I don’t remember every detail of it, but it looks like a beautiful ballpark and it looks like it attracts a lot of great fans.”
Everett isn’t the big leagues, but White doesn’t plan on making Friday’s big-league moment a one-time thing.
For the latest AquaSox news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.