The Mariners have selected prep catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson with the #6 pick, to significant praise from draft pundits. Jackson, who we previewed on the site last month, is a right-handed power hitter whose bat is expected to play at any position. He's 6'2'', 210 lbs. Jackson has been often compared to Tampa Bay outfielder Wil Myers, who began his career behind the dish before moving to a corner outfield spot.
The Mariners announced Jackson as an outfielder, which gives some indication as to what they plan to do with him. It's the same thing the Nationals did with Bryce Harper, who was a catcher himself before he was drafted. That being said, the Mariners did announce Dustin Ackley as an outfielder as well before moving him to second base soon thereafter. Here's Jack Zduriencik on Jackson's future, as it stands right now.
Zduriencik on @710ESPNSeattle "Jackson will hit his way to the big leagues." Says he will play a corner and they will start him in the OF— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) June 6, 2014
Jackson represents the first time the Mariners have taken a high school player in the first round since 2009 (not including 2010 comp pick Taijuan Walker), when they grabbed Nick Franklin with the 27th pick. He's the second prep hitter off the board, and considered to be the best one by a significant margin.
Things broke just right for the Mariners today, as the Marlins threw a wrench in the process early, electing to take Tyler Kolek over Jackson or Carlos Rondon, both of which had been connected heavily to Miami. The Cubs then selected catcher Kyle Schwarber with the fourth pick, and it seemed like Jackson was destined for Seattle since Minnesota's love of shortstop Nick Gordon was no secret.
Jackson is regarded as the best hitter in the draft with the highest upside, and you'll see mostly rave reviews for this pick. This isn't like past years where the Mariners may have reached for a guy -- JJ Cooper of Baseball America notes that Jackson could have easily gone 1-2-3 if the draft had played out a little different. Jackson is an elite, blue chip prospect who will immediately shoot to around, if not the top of Mariner prospect lists.
Let's choose to be excited about this one. Unlike several players hovering around the top of this draft, Jackson has superstar upside. For the first time in a while, the Mariners have an exciting prep slugger in their system who can be anything and everything. Prep players don't have their future already written the way some college players do. Aaron Nola, selected one pick later at #7, is already capped at a #4 starter, if you listen to the experts. There's no such ceiling for Jackson, at least not yet. That's exciting.
The Mariners currently hold a playoff spot. The baseball world is praising this pick. Why not let momentum sweep us away for a while? Alex Jackson could be a special player, and you can't say that for a lot of the other names selected around him. He might break out, and he might bust. But for now, I'm going to choose to believe that because there's nothing -- yet -- to convince me otherwise.
You can follow Alex on Twitter here. Welcome to Seattle, kid.