Baseball / Sports

Reports: Mariners, top pick reach agreement on contract

SAN DIEGO--Alex Jackson's career as a professional baseball player could begin quite soon.

On Wednesday afternoon, multiple reports surfaced that the Seattle Mariners and Jackson--their top draft pick and No. 6 pick overall--had agreed to terms on a signing bonus of $4.2 million.

The Mariners had no official confirmation, but league sources said there was an agreement in principle.

The slot value of the No. 6 pick was set at $3,575,900 by Major League Baseball. The reported bonus of $4.2 million exceeds the $3,882,900 bonus pool limit set for the Mariners by MLB. That means the Mariners would have to pay a fine of 75 percent of the amount over budget--a little over $200,000. Had it been more than $4.2 million the Mariners would have had to forfeit draft picks next year.

Jackson grew up in the San Diego area. At 6 feet 2, 215 pounds, he was considered the top high-school hitting prospect in the country.

Jackson had played catcher the past few seasons, but with Mike Zunino entrenched in the position and the desire to accelerate Jackson's path to the big leagues, the Mariners will move him to a corner outfield spot."He could catch, if you wanted him to catch," general manager Jack Zduriencik said after the draft. "But I do think in the scenario here, with a young catcher in the big leagues with us now, and this kid's bat potential ... (we'll play) him in the outfield to start with. ... We can always put him back behind the plate."

Jackson put up monster numbers over his four-year career at Rancho Bernardo High hitting .375 (150 for 400) with 156 runs scored, 35 doubles, six triples, 47 home runs and 127 RBI in 135 games. The 47 home runs tied him with former Indians prospect Johnny Drennen (2002-05) for the San Diego section record. Jackson hit five homers as a freshman, 17 as a sophomore--the most in California -- 14 as a junior and 11 as a senior.

Of the Mariners' first 14 draft picks, Jackson is the only one who hasn't signed. Jackson had committed to play for the University of Oregon.

NOTES

--Hisashi Iwakuma (neck stiffness) threw a flat ground session before Wednesday's game. It was normally his day for a bullpen session, but the Mariners tried to ease up on Iwakuma's neck. "He's not 100 percent but he's getting better," manager Lloyd McClendon said. Iwakuma is still scheduled to make his start on Friday in Kansas City.

--Justin Smoak (strained quad) began his rehab assignment on Wednesday night with Class AAA Tacoma at Cheney Stadium. He got the start at designated hitter and was batting seventh. "The leg is feeling good," McClendon said. "He will DH the first day or two and then get back in the field. He just needs to get his at-bats built back up."

Don't expect Smoak to be out on rehab for 20 days like Logan Morrison.

"I don't foresee this being a 20-day for Justin," McClendon said.

--Corey Hart (strained hamstring) and Michael Saunders (shoulder inflammation) are expected to join the Rainiers on Friday. Saunders took batting practice on the field with Tacoma on Wednesday. Hart will start out his rehab at DH for several games. He'll then eventually play some first base and then outfield as he builds up his strength.

Hart could see close to the full 20 days because he missed so much time.

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