The MLB draft is right around the corner, and the current hype of the NFL draft is overshadowing the fact that the Mariners will be making the #6 selection on June 5th, less than a month away. While NFL mock drafts are big business, mocking the MLB draft is largely an exercise in futility past the first round given the massive talent pool and extra factors like slot demands and budget allocation. Does it sound like I've played a lot of OOTP the past few weeks? I have played a lot of OOTP the past few weeks.
The MLB draft is notoriously hard to predict, as the Mariners stunned just about everyone when they opted for Danny Hultzen over Anthony Rendon in 2011. Despite that, the Mariners holding the #6 pick means there's at least some idea of the players they could select, even if things have, and will change in the next month. Back in October, I profiled prep arm Touki Toussaint as a possible draft pick from where he was mocked, and now he appears to fall in the 15-25 range in many mocks.
With that disclaimer, it's unlikely a ton of things will change over the month, so we'll be taking a look at some of the players the Mariners are connected to as we lead up to the draft. First up is Alex Jackson, who My MLB Draft has going to the M's at 6.
Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo HS
Jackson, a 6'1'', 200 lb right-handed catcher, is all hitter through and through, and his chances of sticking at catcher has sparked some debate. His situation has been compared to Rays outfielder Wil Myers, a catcher who will eventually moved to a corner outfield spot for both defensive and health reasons.
Turning to Chris Crawford for an initial profile (I recommend his draftbook preview for full breakdowns on hundreds of players - it's only $1.99 and you can buy it here), here's what he has to say about Jackson.
Back in November, Minor League Ball took a look at Jackson, feeling that his future bulk may push him off the catching position.
He is physically mature but will likely continue to grow... could see him filling out to 240 LBS+ where catching could be difficult and harder on his body than it needs to be. Athletically, he can handle RF and while not having great range, his arm would be a huge asset. He has a short arm action and a really fast release.
Keith Law reinforces the notion that it's all about Jackson's bat no matter where he plays, and it is impressive.
Jackson's a very physical kid, 6-foot-1 or so and probably pushing 220 pounds at this point, with a mostly clean, potent right-handed swing that should generate line-drive power to his pull side and at least doubles power to the opposite field. His swing is very rotational, with good but not top-of-the-line bat speed, adding to his strength by getting his lower half involved and showing good loft in his follow-through. He's a bat-first prospect, with the potential to be average on defense given time to work on it, but with All-Star offensive upside in the long run no matter where he plays.
Expect to hear the Mariners connected to Jackson a lot over the coming weeks, and ignore the fact that they have Mike Zunino. Too much can happen in the next three years to be drafting for need, and if Jackson can move to an outfield spot, that fills a need itself, as the Mariners are paper-thin for corner outfielder power bats. Except for Jabari Blash. Swoon.
Finally, here's some video of Jackson's pure swing while taking batting practice at the 2013 Under Armor All-American game.