For the first time since 2009, the Mariners addressed in the Amateur Draft what has become a glaring team need: the outfield. With the sixth selection this July, Jack Zduriencik was fortunate enough to have Alex Jackson, an 18-year old slugger from Escondido, CA, fall to him.
With the weight of the organization on him and a pressure to immediately succeed, Jackson was shepherded into the Arizona Rookie League, where he debuted with a pair of hits, including a triple, against the AZL Padres on June 26.
Aug 24, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; American catcher Alex Jackson (10) connects with the ball during the 2013 Under Armour All-American Baseball game at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports
In the ensuing weeks, he continued to fill up the hits column, and while the homers did not come in bunches, a .322/.373/.525 slash line in mid-July was nothing to scoff at. His first homer came on July 7, and everything was on course for 2014 to be a successful introduction to professional baseball.
And then July 21 happened.
While playing right field, a position to which he was being asked to convert, Jackson lost a ball in the lights that caught him in the face and fractured his maxillary sinus. While not being the worst case scenario, this meant that nearly all of the rest of the season was lost. A month of rehab got Jackson back on the field three more times (one start, six at-bats), but his two month crash course was cut in half.
The 2014 season, while nerve-wracking for the front office and fans alike, did give the notion that management scouted well. Rookie ball is not exactly the fiercest of competition, but Jackson made the transition smoothly, posting a great average and solid 2B/HR numbers.
Considering the way the M’s have swung the bats for the last decade, they sure could use him.