With the sixth overall pick in MLB’s amateur draft, the Seattle Mariners were poised to do something shocking. This was considered a notably deep draft, particularly on the pitching side, and that meant it would only take one overzealous club to screw up everyone’s draft boards. The club could have easily been the Mariners. But it wasn’t! The M’s took Alex Jackson sixth overall, and in doing so did what everyone assumed they’d do.
So, Alex Jackson. Welcome to Seattle, Alex! Go follow his (private) Twitter account here. Jackson is 6’2″ and weighs 215 pounds. He’s a catcher, sometimes, but the Mariners announced him as an outfielder. He’s also played the infield corners, and there’s a chance he’ll play some third in the low minors. Announcing him as an outfielder doesn’t mean the team is committed to him as an outfielder. Dustin Ackley, notably, was called an outfielder before being quickly converted to second base. We still don’t know where Jackson’s going to play, though behind the dish seems unlikely.
Jackson is being taken straight out of high school, and was the second high school hitter off the board today. His selection followed that of new Minnesota Twins shortstop Nick Gordon, who was the other name most often connected to the Mariners. The Twins, however, have long made clear their obsession with Gordon, so when both were available to them at number five, their choice was predictable. Looking at the top of this draft, the only real surprise is that Miami picked high school righty Tyler Kolek over NC State lefty Carlos Rodon, who fell to the White Sox at number three. Aside from that, things proceeded as planned.
What does Jackson bring to the table? A phenomenal hit tool, primarily. Jackson is regarded as the best hitter in the class, and not by a small margin. He’s been described as having plus power, particularly of the pull variety, though there’s no question he can also hit the ball the other way. He’s the kind of prospect who’s defensive position is a secondary concern, since the bat will play anywhere on the diamond.
Defensively, of course, his position is yet to be finalized. He is a nice athlete, and has a cannon of an arm that has led many pundits to call him an outfielder long-term. Indeed, he may well have a better chance of contributing from the outfield than the diamond. But wherever he ends up, it’s all about the bat. Jackson’s a hitter first and foremost, with the athleticism to let the rest of it sort itself out.
Even given how obvious this pick was, it’s still a huge win for Seattle. To get the best available hitter at number six is huge for the team, and hopefully the new slot value system will mean less of a wait before Jackson signs. MLB teams know not to draft based on need, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that Jackson projects to play a position where the Mariners have been sorely lacking for years and years. Rejoice: Alex Jackson is a Seattle Mariners draftee. ‘Tis a happy day.