The Seattle Mariners’ farm system has taken a hit the last couple of years with the graduations of the likes of Mike Zunino, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, among others. Still, the organization boasts a solid collection of talent, despite the lack of pitching in the high minors.
The club has taken advantage of the strengths in the draft classes the past three years, adding right-handed hitting outfielders with power and more depth in the middle-infield. Seattle also has done fairly well internationally, even with the departure of Bob Engle and some of his scouts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A lot of the club’s top talents are more than a year or two from the big leagues, and many come with a high risk to go with the exciting upside.
Here’s an update on the Top 10 Countdown:
10. Tyler Marlette, C | Analysis
9. Luiz Gohara, LHP | Analysis
8. Tyler O’Neill, OF | Analysis
7. Edwin Diaz, RHP | Analysis
6. Ketel Marte, SS | Analysis
5. Gabriel Guerrero, OF | Analysis
4. Austin Wilson, OF | Analysis
3. Patrick Kivlehan, OF | Analysis
2. D.J. Peterson, 1B | Analysis
|No. 1 — Alex Jackson, RF|
Jackson was the best prep bat in last June’s draft class and fell in the Mariners’ lap at No. 6 thanks to a late surge by Nick Gordon (MIN) and Kyle Schwarber (CHC) and a strong group of arms at the top that included Tyler Kolek (MIA) and Carlos Rodon (CWS).
Jackson is a product of Rancho Bernardo High School, becoming the program’s fifth first-round pick since 2000, including Philadelphia Phillies southpaw Cole Hamels. As a catcher, Jackson showed the arm, overall strength and feet to play the position down the line but his bat possesses so much promise and present polish that the Mariners wisely chose to stick him in right field and let his bat carry him.
Behind plus-plus bat speed, Jackson produces power to all field and when he maintains the more compact version he will make consistent hard contact, allowing him to hit for average. Jackson drives through his hips with good rotation from load to contact. He trusts his hands and bat speed and has shown he can hit the breaking ball to center and right-center field.
He has a slight tendency to get anxious at times and expand the strike zone, but already has matured in that area since the end of his junior year in high school. He’ll be challenged with better offspeed stuff and a more steady diet of good velocity this season, further testing his discipline and strike zone judgment as well as his ability to track the breaking ball.
Despite an injury-shortened summer after signing his pro contract, Jackson will start 2015 in Class-A Clinton as one of the younger players in the league. He may stay in the Midwest League all year but a strong showing may put him on the fast track starting next season. A maxed out Jackson suggests an all-star quality corner outfield bat capable of producing a .280/.350/.500 triple-slash while offering at least average defense led by a plus throwing arm.
MLB ETA: 2018
MLB Comps: Magglio Ordonez, Marty Cordova, Michael Cuddyer