Jackson shows off pop with first spring homer

Last year's first-round pick excited to gain experience with big leaguers

Jackson shows off pop with first spring homer

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Mariners drafted Alex Jackson with the sixth overall pick in the first round last June because they loved his right-handed power potential. And the 19-year-old out of San Diego put that on display Friday with a towering home run to the opposite field in a late-inning stint in Seattle's 4-4 tie with Texas in Cactus League play.

Jackson isn't in Major League camp this spring, but has been called up from the Minor League side along with some other young Mariners prospects for several games to help fill in. And after getting a base hit in one of his first two Cactus League at-bats on Thursday against the Indians, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder did things even bigger Friday after entering in the sixth inning.

The youngster walked in his first at-bat, then blasted his long ball in the eighth off right-hander Shawn Tolleson, one of the Rangers' top setup men.

Jackson called the whole experience "a blast," which unintentionally doubled as a description of his moon shot deep over the right-center-field fence.

"It's an awesome experience," said Jackson, a high school catcher who has been converted to the outfield by the Mariners. "Being only 19 and being able to play against guys who have been in the league for years is definitely a tremendous opportunity.

"I'm just trying to cherish all the moments right now because there are some big-time guys out here with a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge. So I'm just trying to take in all the information and just put it away for storage down the road."

Manager Lloyd McClendon is reluctant to say too much about young prospects getting their feet wet in late-inning Cactus League play, but acknowledged Jackson showed something.

"Pretty impressive," said the skipper. "That's a lot of power to right-center."

Jackson didn't assume anything as he hustled around the bases after catching up to the 0-1 fastball.

"I hit it and it felt good off the bat, but I just put my head down and started running," he said. "You never know. Sometimes it feels good off the bat and hits the wall, so I just put my head down and started running. And once I started hearing everyone cheering, I was like, 'OK, we can slow down this sprint a little bit.'"

Jackson wound up grounding out to third in his final at-bat in the ninth against hard-throwing righty Neftali Feliz in what was another learning experience on what he called "a good day."

Just soaking up the experience of being in a big league dugout has been a boon a youngster who doesn't turn 20 until Dec. 25 and will likely begin this season in Class A after playing 23 games of Rookie League ball last season. His biggest lesson so far?

"That's a tough question, because there's so much knowledge that I've learned from the coaching staff and players, even just about myself as a player," he said. "It's tough to say just a single thing I've learned because it's a big book and it's only going to get bigger."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.