M’s nail No. 6 pick

Alex Jackson 600 21 300x205 Ms nail No. 6 pickThe Seattle Mariners selected Rancho Bernardo High School’s Alex Jackson with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. It will be years before anyone can say with certainty that the club landed a high quality big leaguer with the pick, but the club benefited from best player available meeting organizational need when the Minnesota Twins selected Nick Gordon at No. 5, undoubtedly inducing an explosion in the Mariners’ draft room. Jackson was the player they wanted after separating himself from the pack among prep hitters this spring.

I wrote a few weeks ago that the M’s needed to nail this pick and land a potential star and it’s my belief — among many others — that they have done that in tabbing Jackson.

Jackson, an Oregon commit advised by Scott Boras, is a hitter in the truest sense. He’s not a ‘slugger’ relying on fly balls in attempt to hit the ball as far as possible. He covers the plate well with a natural doubles swing and the plus bat speed generated by strong, quick hands and a clean swing suggests 25-homer power long term.

The 18-year-old will play outfield, likely right, in pro ball, but has spent time donning the tools of ignorance and even some at third base. He possesses a plus throwing arm and average foot speed that should serve well enough to develop into an average or above-average defender. Jackson’s calling card, however, is the ability to put the barrel on the baseball with consistency. It’s nice to have power, but the ability to hit for average and control the strike zone create the difference between the traditional slugger and a player that is in the lineup everyday hitting somewhere in the middle of the order.

Tools
Hitting/On-Base Skills: Now — 50 Future — 60
Hitting for Power: Now — 50 Future — 60
Running: Now — 50 Future — 50
Fielding (OF): Now — 45 Future — 50+
Arm: Now — 60 Future — 60

Jackson should sign — clubs don’t take players this high if they feel there is any real shot he won’t sign — and head to rookie ball this summer. Barring unforeseen health issues, he’ll hit spring training 2015 with a good chance to break camp at full-season Clinton of the Midwest League next April.

Upon signing his contract, which is likely to gobble up most of the $3,575,900 assigned pick value, Jackson will become the No. 1 prospect in the Seattle Mariners organization.

MLB Comps: Michael Cuddyer, Josh Willingham, Matt Holliday
MLB ETA: 2017

Assuming the full value for the pick is required — and that isn’t certain and may not even be likely — the M’s would be left with $3.192 million for their remaining picks through Round 10.

Written by Jason A. Churchill

Moi2 Ms nail No. 6 pick

Executive Editor
Jason founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at Inside the Park and covering prep, college and pro sports for several news outlets, local and national, including MLB.com and ESPN Insider. He currently serves as co-host of the Steve Sandmeyer Show on 1090 The Fan, CBS Sports Seattle.

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11 comments on “M’s nail No. 6 pick

  1. Zackr says:

    Hi Jason,

    Two quick questions regarding Jackson.

    1. Is it generally easy to fix excessive hand movements at the start of a hitter’s stride?

    2. Alex’s bp sessions are amazing in that he so consistently barrels up, but in his game footage, his timing looks like a mess with no solid contact (albeit in only 4 minutes of game ab’s I saw online). Is that something that gets worked out with more experience, or is it a more difficult problem to eradicate?

    Thanks…

  2. bookbook says:

    Were I wise, I’d defer to your wisdom. However, I’ve never been accused of that particular fault…

    I’m not ready to call the guy we just picked the #1 prospect in the org. (unless scouts agree he really is clearly more Buxton than Starling).

    For me, Walker and Peterson (who has been hitting well against high-A pitching) should still outrank him.

  3. GonzoBlogger says:

    “but has spent time donning the tools of ignorance”

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never heard this expression before. Cracked me up, and made me think that during all our lives we’ve donned ignorant tools at some point.

    Thanks to PI posts leading up to the draft, I was delighted that the M’s drafted this kid. Still, for the last decade, the M’s have seemed like a bunch of tools for promoting so many prospects with ignorant approaches to the plate. Let’s hope this changes with AJax!

  4. Jason A. Churchill says:

    greentunic, you nailed it on the head. If Jackson remained on current developmental path with no significant improvements, the experience he’d gain in minors would allow for an MLB average hit tool, suggesting perhaps he’d hit .260 with a .320 OBP.

    But he’s 18, will get stronger, has the capacity to greatly improve his pitch recognition, swing consistency, plate discipline, things of that nature, which changes that grade.

    A 50 present hit tool does not mean the player could step into the bigs right now and hit .260.

  5. greentunic says:

    Jason, I have a question that has bothered me for ages.

    I understand the scouting scale. I know that 50 is MLB average. But it is most certainly not projected that Jackson would hit like an MLB average player if he started for the Mariners tomorrow. So why, then, do high school and college kids get such generous ratings?

    It just makes no sense to me, unless it’s more abstract than that, like 50 is the “current path” he is on and 60 is the “projected path” to which he will accelerate? That seems a bit too meta though, haha.

  6. Rocketdawg31 says:

    I couldn’t be more pleased. I thought for sure Chicago Cubs would pick Alex Jackson, I think He fits a lot of what they were doing in that organization. Was very happy that he lasted till number 6 and to us. I don’t know much about Gareth Morgan… But anybody wI think 70 power is someone who I’m going to welcome to the organization with open arms.

  7. Jerry says:

    Good pick. I thought the BPA would likely be a pitcher, but I love this pick. Tools and upside. Awesome.

    By the way, this is the second year in a row that we’ve picked a big muscular Canadian in the first three rounds. I wonder if the Ms are trying to focus on BC guys (Langley Blaze) and perhaps win over some of the annoying Canucks that invade Safeco every time the Jays one to Seattle.

    Also, the Ms seen to really want RH power hitters: Peterson, Wilson, O’Neill, Jackson, and now Morgan. Plus several of our recent big $$$ intl signings. I’m hoping one of these guys is the next Jay Buhner.

    I like this draft thus far. Nice work.

  8. rjfrik says:

    Gareth is a beast. true 70 power. He could become a star.

    And as I said before, Jackson has some of the best hands and strongest wrists I’ve seen in a HS kid in a long time. His plate coverage is great and I love how he takes the ball the other way when needed. Kid is going to be good.

  9. rotoenquire says:

    Morgan, Gareth OF Canada he has a commit to NCS could be a great get. Has solid power and speed great overall athlete. Like the pick.

  10. Jerry says:

    That worked out perfectly. Nice.

    One question for Jason:

    Jackson is pretty advanced for a prep player, right?

    Do you think he’s the type of guy who could go quickly through the system?

    Great pick by the Ms. No brainier.

  11. Ben Davis says:

    YEAAAAAAHHHHHHHH BABY!!!!!!!!

    Couldn’t be more excited about AJax coming to Seattle! With Peterson and Jackson in the lineup, you can expect a well balanced lineup for many future years! Good by Smoak. Wish you could’ve hit!

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