Mariners take San Diego power hitter with sixth pick

A Mariners team looking to add offensive punch found a perfect match in Thursday’s First-Year Player Draft, landing San Diego prep standout Alex Jackson with the sixth overall pick in the first round.

Jackson is a 6-foot-2, 215-pound right-handed power hitting catcher/outfielder from Rancho Bernardo High School who is regarded by many as the premier hitter available in this year’s Draft.

Jackson hit 47 home runs in his high school career and also has impressed scouts with a strong throwing arm. Whether he sticks behind the plate or is shifted to a corner outfield spot remains to be seen, but the Mariners already have one of baseball’s top young catchers in Mike Zunino, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 Draft.

The Mariners definitely have a need for right-handed power hitters, however, particularly in the outfield.

Jackson is just the second high school player selected with Seattle’s top pick since Jack Zduriencik became general manager in 2009. Four of Zduriencik’s five previous top picks were college players – outfielder Dustin Ackley (’09), pitcher Danny Hultzen (’11), Zunino (’12) and third baseman D.J. Peterson (’13).

Right-hander Taijuan Walker was the lone prep player picked first by Seattle in that span, though he didn’t go until the 43rd overall pick as a supplemental first-rounder.

Seattle has another pick Thursday, the 74th and final selection of the day, with the last choice in the Competitive Balance Round B.

The Mariners lost their second-round selection (47th overall) when they signed Robinson Cano as a qualified free agent. Seattle would have recouped a second-round selection had Kendrys Morales, its own qualified free agent, signed elsewhere.

But Morales is the only remaining unsigned player who’d received a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer. Once the first day of the Draft is over, Morales will be able to sign with any team without costing that club a Draft pick.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10, with the Mariners selecting sixth in each of those rounds, then wraps up Saturday with the final 30 rounds.

Here’s a video with some Jackson highlights:

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