And we have a Jackson and a Franklin, so if we traded for a Hamilton we’d really have Moneyball!
It was not a small number of oddballs who were calling San Diego high schooler Alex Jackson the best hitting prospect in the 2014 MLB Draft. It was lots of folks.
So when Scouting Director Tom McNamara talks about how thrilled the Mariners were to get him at No. 6, it’s not just PR spin.
It took two excellent strokes of fortune for Seattle to end up with him.
First, the Cubs decided to get strategic with their bonus cap money. Jackson is a Boras client, and isn’t going to come in below the slot money (and he has Oregon as his fallback school). The Cubs decided to draft a guy who would sign below slot and then move the money around. Plus, Kyle Schwarber is a midwestern Big Ten kid, so that didn’t hurt.
Second, the Twins were supposedly locked in on high school shortstop Nick Gordon, and were going to take him at No. 5 no matter who else was on the board. We don’t know if that’s true, but we know they took him over Jackson.
The first three picks were pitchers, so to get the No. 1 hitter with the No. 6 pick, you gotta have two teams pass. Seattle got just that.
In other words, I think the Mariners think they got a top-3 type of pick.
Add in D.J. Peterson way out-slugging a couple of the college hitters picked above him last year (Colin Moran SLG .345; Deeeej SLG .564), and Austin Wilson looking like the first-rounder he might have been (.289/.367/.495), and the chips have been falling quite nicely for the M’s of late.
He’s played catcher in high school, and has the arm for it. On all-star teams and the like, he’s been in the outfield, or, at times, third base.
It seems that in the post-Dustin Ackley, post-Jesus Montero world, the M’s are not inclined to put bat-first players at their toughest defensive positions (e.g., no catching for Tyler O’Neill), and every word from the Mariners since the pick has been “outfielder.”
So expect Jackson to be in right, where his arm will be an asset.
He’s 18, and listed at 6-foot-2, 215. Some think he’s already bigger than that. That’s a lot bigger than last year’s No. 1 pick D.J. Peterson, who’s listed at 6-1, 190.
The reason he rose to the top of the charts is that he is considered a guy with hitting skills and big-time power. High school stats are pretty much meaningless, but he hit .375 there. In other words, he’s not just a pure basher.
And that reflects the McNamara crew’s track record with the recent high picks (Peterson, Wilson, O’Neill): guys who can hit, and also have power.
Super slo-mo freeze-frame swing analysis coming soon.