Mariners News: Top Prospect Alex Jackson Homers in 2016 Debut

August 10, 2015; Vancouver, BC, CAN; Alex Jackson (10) up to bat for the Everett AquaSox against the Vancouver Canadians at Nat Bailey Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Helberg-SoDo Mojo
August 10, 2015; Vancouver, BC, CAN; Alex Jackson (10) up to bat for the Everett AquaSox against the Vancouver Canadians at Nat Bailey Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Helberg-SoDo Mojo /

The Mariners top prospect went yard in his 2016 debut with the Clinton LumberKings on Thursday night.

Alex Jackson spent the first six weeks of the 2016 season playing in extended spring training, but the Seattle Mariners opted to promote him to the Clinton LumberKings of the Midwest League on Thursday. The decision proved to be a wise one, as the M’s top prospected had a memorable first game.

The 20-year-old outfielder got the start in right field and hit fifth for Clinton last night. Jackson led off the sixth inning by crushing a ball deep to left field for a solo blast. The round-tripper was of the no-doubter variety. Jackson finished 1 for 5 with a homer and a strikeout.

The Mariners selected Jackson with the 6th overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, CA. Jackson is believed to possess elite power from the right side, and he has the potential to hit for average at the big league level. Many pundits projected a fast rise through the Mariners system for Jackson, but poor plate discipline and injuries have slowed his development.

More from Mariners News

Jackson began last season with Clinton. He looked overmatched in the Midwest League, posting a .157 batting average with 0 home runs and 13 RBI across 28 games with the LumberKings. Jackson’s .240 on base percentage and .213 slugging percentage suggest he was not ready for the level of competition.

However, Jackson was reportedly attempting to play through a shoulder injury he suffered with the Mariners in spring training. The M’s opted to shut him down once they caught wind of the ailment to prevent further damage physically and mentally. Jackson was idle for just over a month before being assigned to the Everett AquaSox of the Northwest League.

Jackson fared much better with the AquaSox last summer. The young slugger registered a .239/.365/.466 slash line through 197 plate appearances. Jackson clubbed 11 doubles, 8 home runs, 25 RBI and swiped 2 bases in 48 games. Those numbers were still less than ideal, but it took a mature attitude to recover from his horrid start in Clinton.

It is clear that Jackson did not play to his potential offensively last season. However, the former high school catcher looked significantly more comfortable as an outfielder in 2015. Jackson posted a .964 fielding percentage through 603 innings. His arm is incredibly strong, and he tallied 9 outfield assists during his time with the AquaSox. Right field appears to be his best position, but he has shown the ability to defend both corner spots.

The Mariners remain high on Jackson, and rightfully so. He played well in 2014, hitting .280 with 2 home runs and 16 RBI across 24 games in the Arizona Rookie League. Jackson also made a memorable impression during his first spring training with the Mariners in 2015, connecting on a home run during a game against the Texas Rangers.

More from SoDo Mojo

I happened to be in attendance during a game between the Everett AquaSox and the Vancouver Canadians last summer at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver, BC. Jackson played right field and hit third for the AquaSox. In the top of the first, Jackson absolutely destroyed a fastball, launching a 2-run shot that landed at least 50 feet beyond the wall in left field. He finished 1 for 3 with a home run and a walk.

Jackson has an elite combination of size and skill. He stands tall at 6’2, and has a muscular 215 pound frame. Jackson hits and throws from the right side. Scouts rave about his quick, powerful stroke at the plate, but he has the potential to be much more than just a power hitter.

Next: Mariners Win 6th Road Series

The 2016 season could be a turning point for Alex Jackson and his development. Ideally, Jackson will dominate the Midwest League in his second go around and earn a late-season promotion to the Bakersfield Blaze.

Considering Jackson’s struggles with the LumberKings in 2015, his dinger last night should serve as a very encouraging sign for the Mariners and their fans.