Mariners make rare draft selection of high school player

Contributing writerJune 8, 2014 

The Seattle Mariners did something this past week that has been rare for the organization: They selected a high school senior with their first pick in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft.

The selection of Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) High School catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson with the No. 6 overall pick marked just the third time in the past 10 years the Mariners used their first selection on a high school athlete.

The two previous players have reached the majors, although neither has made an impact yet.

Taijuan Walker (Yucaipa, Calif., High School), who Seattle selected with the 43rd pick in the first round in 2010, is on the Mariners’ disabled list. He made his major league debut last September.

The other, Canadian teenager Phillippe Aumont, was drafted by the Mariners with the No. 11 overall pick in 2007.

The Mariners traded Aumont to the Philadelphia Phillies as part of the deal for Cliff Lee on December 16, 2009.

Now a reliever, Aumont is with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, but he has pitched in 42 big-league games for the Phillies.

Five of the seven college players the Mariners have selected with their first pick have reached the majors. The exceptions are 2011 selection Danny Hultzen (out for 2014 after shoulder surgery) and 2013 choice D.J. Peterson (with High-A High Desert).

BALLER FROM THE BEACH?

Rainier Beach High School alum Matt Fields is making an impact in his first season in the Pacific Coast League, starting at first base for the Kansas City Royals Triple-A affiliate.

Fields launched two home runs Friday, including a grand slam, and drove in all six runs as Omaha beat Oklahoma City, 6-2. He had homered in three consecutive games entering Saturday.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound 28-year-old is batting .276 with nine home runs and 34 RBI in 55 games in his first Triple-A season.

Fields is a 2004 graduate of Rainier Beach. He started on the basketball team which lost in double overtime to O’Dea in the Class 3A state championship game at the Tacoma Dome. His Vikings teammates included Terrence Williams and C.J. Giles.

The Tampa Bay Rays drafted Fields in the 44th round of the 2004 draft and let him play one season at Green River Community College before signing him.

Fields was released by the Rays after reaching Double-A in 2010; he spent one-and-a-half seasons playing independent baseball before the Royals signed him in the middle of the 2012 campaign.

Fields has never played a professional baseball game in his home state.

That will change if he is still with Omaha when the Storm Chasers visit Tacoma on Aug. 20.

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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