Mariners intrigued by Goldstein's bat, glove

Mariners intrigued by Goldstein's bat, glove

SEATTLE -- Jason Goldstein could have begun his pro baseball career a year ago when the Dodgers drafted him in the 17th round as a junior catcher out of the University of Illinois. But he felt he had more to learn, more to prove and, yeah, more engineering classes to take.

And those decisions appear to be paying off for the 22-year-old, who was selected by the Mariners in the ninth round of the MLB Draft on Friday and now is prepared to sign a contract and begin the next phase of his baseball career.

"A lot of it had to do with going back and continuing my degree and getting closer to graduation," said Goldstein, who is one semester shy of an industrial engineering degree. "And I thought I should have been drafted higher and wanted to prove myself. I think that paid off me."

Goldstein is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection for the Illini and he's made educated decisions all along the way.

• Track every Mariners pick from Day 2 of the 2016 MLB Draft, which consisted of Rounds 3-10.

"When I was looking to go to school, academics is a big thing in my family," he said. "I was good in math and science and not so interested in reading and writing, so I looked at engineering schools. And one of the best in the country was in our backyard in Illinois and they were putting together a good baseball team, so that was an easy decision."

That said, the 6-foot, 210-pounder is eager to concentrate on being a full-time ballplayer.

"As much as we value education, my parents also taught me to go after dreams," he said. "And playing baseball at the highest level is my major goal. This is one step toward that dream and goal. I'm really looking forward to getting started."

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The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on at 9 a.m. PT.

As for going back to school to prove himself? Goldstein worked on his offensive game and hit .312 with a .402 OBP, four homers and a team-leading 29 RBIs. But more important to him was showing that he played a part in Illinois' pitching success after teammate Tyler Jay was the sixth overall pick in the 2015 Draft by the Twins and another Illinois hurler went in the fifth round.

"We had a lot of talented pitchers leave," Goldstein said. "One of the things I pride myself on is not just blocking, throwing and receiving the ball, which I think I do pretty well, but also the mind game and working with pitchers.

"I felt it was a good opportunity to go back and prove I had a little say in what they were doing out there. We had a kid [Cody Sedlock] that didn't pitch much his first two years, and he wound up being a first-round pick [No. 27 to the Orioles]. Obviously Cody has a lot of talent, but I'd like to think I had a little to do with that, too."

Those prize pitchers helped Goldstein's case as well, according to Mariners amateur scouting director Tom McNamara.

"We saw a lot of Illinois last year because they had some high-profile pitchers, and this year with Sedlock as well," McNamara said. "Sometimes you're watching a really good pitcher and you see a catcher than can handle a guy with a mid-90s fastball and good breaking stuff and that's what he's going to see at the next level. He did a good job with that and he swung the bat well this year, too."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.