Here’s what Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told reporters after selecting outfielder Alex Jackson on Thursday with the No. 6 pick in the first-year player draft.
(Impressions?) “Good looking kid. He’s got an outstanding arm. He could catch, if you wanted him to catch. He could do that. But I do think kin the scenario here, with a young catcher in the big leagues with us now, and this kid’s bat potential, the fact he throws so well – he has a terrific arm – let the bat do the talking for him. I think by playing him in the outfield to start with, let’s see how things go. We can always put him back behind the plate, because he does have the ability to play there. But I just think because we think the bat’s going to play quicker, I think that’s a better way to get him out there, let him swing the bat, let him get transitioned to the outfield, and go from there.”
(He played some corner infield?) “He did. He played some third base. That was a discussion in the room – is this kid a a third baseman, a catcher, a left fielder. He probably has the ability to play all three. But I do think as you look at the organization, what might be best for all of us and him as well, just put him in the outfield to start with, and go from there.”
(Not many power bats) “Yeah, you’ve noticed. It’s difficult. It really is. Especially a right-handed bat. We’ve talked about that a lot. We’re talking about it now. It’s funny, I remember years ago it was left-handed bats, trying to find a really good left-handed hitter. Now it just seems it’s the right-handed bat that’s at a premium. The game’s changed a little bit, and you look at this kid that’s been playing in all these showcases for several years, he’s traveled all over the country, been in every major event possible, comes from a great high school program, you look at the big leaguers that have come out of there. This was intriguing to us and very happy to select this player.”
(More knowledge about high school guys now?) “That’s a good question, because there are a lot of opportunities for them to play in these big-profile games and tournaments. I do think in the summer time and fall when scouts are out looking at these players, they do see them against the best competition. You sit with these guys nowadays and ask who’s the best guy you played against, and the kids from Calif talk about a kid from Texas, or a kid from the Northeast or a kid from Florida. So they all know each other, they’ve been exposed, and when they perform, that’s impressive to see.”
(Committed to Oregon. Thoughts on signability?) “I think he wants to play. I think any time you take a high school player, you always have that, but when you take a player this high, how many opportunities does any player, anywhere, ever get to be taken in the top 10 picks in the draft? How are you going to better yourself? By the time he gets through Oregon, he may very well be a big leaguer. I think that’s important, and I think his desire is to play pro ball.”
(Corner outfield?) “Yeah, because he throws so well. He has a well above average arm. I do think right field would be the first place you’d look for him. The comparison to Wil Myers, I see that, although this kid was drafted considerably higher than Wil Myers was drafted. We’ll see. We’ll let the pieces fall where they may. Get him out there, get him playing, get him signed first. Exciting to watch him.”
(TV compared him to Bryce Harper) “You hear all these comparisons. That’s something I always ask the guys, who do you compare him to? There were a lot of nice names that came up. I go back to Area Code Games in California, some of the best players ever came out of there, our scouts had comparisons with several players. You don’t put a label on guys, but there’s similarities to a lot of pretty good young hitters that were advance for high school kids.”