The deal was rumored to be consummated late last week while the Seattle Mariners visited the San Diego Padres, but the club made it official today, announcing that their top selection in the 2014 MLB First Year Player Draft -- Alex Jackson of Rancho Bernardo High School in California -- had signed with the club. The 6th overall pick in the draft, Jackson -- 18 -- was rated as the No. 1 high school position player prospect in the draft by Baseball America and was regarded as the bat with the highest upside by many, too.
The 6-foot-2 right-handed hitter posted a 1.459 OPS in his senior season with Rancho and hit .375 and slugged .845 in his four year career at the school, where he played for Sam Blalock -- the uncle of former Texas Rangers infielder Hank Blalock.
I spoke with Blalock on the phone shortly after the M's selected Jackson -- who was primarily a catcher in high school and on the showcase circuit, but who the club announced as an outfielder when they drafted him -- and got a lot of great tidbits on Seattle's newest top prospect. "The game has come a little easier to AJ," Blalock said when I asked him about what stood out about Jackson from the other pros he's coached -- a list that includes Cole Hamels and Billy Beane, among others. "He's one of the top position players I've ever had the opportunity to coach and he has the most power of any hitter I've ever had," said the 39-year high school coach.
Blalock raved about Jackson's abilities, but he also touted the person and the approach. "Alex has a good disposition for baseball. He has a good focus on things and he's already dealt with failure at times," he said. "He was one of five seniors on the team this year and he got along with everyone well," the coach continued. "He's quiet, not 'rah rah', but very well respected."
Jackson commanded a lot of respect being the field general as the team's catcher, but Blalock mentioned that he was the team's left fielder as a freshman. "He worked on infield and outfield drills daily with us," as a senior, he said.
Jackson will head to Arizona to join the Rookie League AZL Mariners, where 2nd round pick Gareth Morgan is also assigned.
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