Churchill: M’s Top Pick Jackson Has Natural Doubles Swing
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The 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 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.
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.
-Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
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