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The Mariners fifth round surprise: shortstop Drew Jackson

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With many big name shortstops going in the first round of the 2015 draft, Northwest League MVP Drew Jackson was a pleasant surprise in the fifth round for the Seattle Mariners.

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Dansby Swanson. Alex Bregman. Brendan Rodgers. Drew Jackson?

The 2015 MLB Draft saw three shortstops go in the first three picks, and eight go in the first round overall making it the Year of the Shortstop.

Drew Jackson, selected in the fifth round by the Seattle Mariners, added to the seemingly incredibly deep talent pool at the shortstop position. His 2015 season was one for the books and certainly left an impression on the Mariners organization.

Jackson, who stands at 6 foot 2 and weighs in at 195 pounds, had a remarkable debut 2015 with the short season Everett AquaSox in the Northwest League. He would finish the season as the league’s MVP for the North Division’s best team.

He entered the 2015 draft coming off of a junior season at Stanford where he batted .320 and earned an Honorable Mention nod on the All Pac-12 Team. Prior to his breakout 2015, Jackson was a light hitter, but he seems to have found his groove at the plate.

Jackson would post an impressive .358/.432/..447 slash line in his half season debut, his batting average and on-base percentage were good for the best in the Northwest League. While he didn’t provide a lot of pop at the plate (two home runs in 226 at bats) he did create runs by getting on base and causing havoc. 

Jackson also led the Northwest League in stolen bases, swiping 47 of 51 attempts (that’s 92% and that’s insane for a rookie). He also — surprise, surprise — led the league in runs scored with 64. Keep in mind, this is short season ball, where 76 games is a complete run of games. Jackson joined the team a bit late (played in 59 games) so he scored more than a run per game.

He posted an incredible 11.3 walk percentage and a good walk to strikeout ration, walking 30 times and striking out just 35 in 266 plate appearances (13.2%). His speed helped out with a bit lucky .414 BABIP, but he posted an impressive 156 wRC+.

His season included a 20-game hit streak and 25-multi-hit games. At the plate, he looked extremely comfortable. The field was a bit of a a challenge. 

He made 11 errors in 243 chances (.955) and posted a 4.0 range factor. It’s not as if Jackson would be the first middle infielder draftee to struggle a little defensively in his half season debut. More important and impressive than the numbers right now is his throwing arm, demonstrated several times in this college highlight reel.

My point is, everybody has a bit of a learning curve, and I wouldn’t let some rookie adjustments take him off the radar as a shortstop just yet.

The Mariners may have struck gold with their fifth round pick. While Jackson has a bit of a way to go, he has certainly made himself one of my prospects to keep an eye on in 2016.