An unpredictable first round shook out perfectly for the Mariners, as Jackson fell to them with the sixth overall pick. The team had been closely tied to Jackson in the months leading up to the draft, and many, including Zduriencik—as he told Kiro Radio's Wyman, Mike and Moore—viewed Jackson as the best hitter available.
Jackson destroyed opposing pitching during his senior season at Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, posting a .400/.579/.800 line. The video above shows the right-handed Jackson has already developed nice swing mechanics and an ability to hit line drives to all field.
Ranch Bernardo coach Sam Blalock, who has coached eight first-round draft choices, talked to Greg Johns of MLB.com about Jackson’s limitless raw power, saying he even switched to a wood bat at times.
Not too many people use wood bats in high school and he did for about five or six games before we made him go back to aluminum when we got toward the playoffs. He hit a ball at Poway High that went probably 450 feet over the track onto their football field. It was a tape-measure blast with a wood bat.
The Mariners wasted no time in announcing their intentions for Jackson, as Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Radio reports he will be making the transition from catcher to the outfield.
Part of that could be the Mariners feel more set long-term at catcher with Mike Zunino than they do in the outfield, but it’s not necessarily wise to try and project a roster that far in the future. Jackson’s athleticism and 6’2’’, 215-pound build projects better as an outfielder.
The position change will also accelerate Jackson’s path to the big leagues by a year or two if he indeed pans out, in a similar vein to what the Washington Nationals did with Bryce Harper coming out of high school.
Jackson has the kind of superstar ceiling that few other hitters available in the 2014 draft possess. Drafting the player with the highest upside is an interesting contrast to the Peterson selection in the first round a year ago, as he was considered a much safer, more polished pick.
As always with a high school player, there is a bust factor and a small chance Jackson could forgo his seven-figure slot bonus and join a good Oregon baseball program next season. But overall, it certainly appears for the moment that the Mariners made the right selection with Jackson.