Mariners’ young draft choice makes an impression after signing his contract
Gareth Morgan takes some deep during batting practice
Seattle Times staff reporter
Gareth Morgan needed a few swings to settle the nerves, but it didn’t take long to showcase the tools that made him the Mariners’ second choice in the draft last week.
Morgan, who looked every bit his listed 6 feet 4, 220 pounds, hit batting practice at Safeco Field after his signing was announced Tuesday, and the powerful 18-year-old outfielder capped the session with two home runs — including one mammoth blast into the upper deck in left field.
“The first couple rounds were ridiculous, but at the end I got a couple,” said a smiling Morgan after signing a few autographs.
Up next? Working his way to the major leagues.
Morgan, a Toronto product who played on the Canadian Junior National Team, is scheduled to report this week to the AZL Mariners in the Arizona Rookie League as he waits for his visa. He received a $2 million bonus upon his signing, well above the slotted amount, according to multiple reports.
“Crazy” was Morgan’s word of choice when describing a whirlwind week after being selected No. 74 overall.
“Starting with the draft, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “But I’m glad Seattle picked me. ... It’s a great place to be.
“It’s starting to sink in, and I’m excited to start playing.”
• The Mariners have activated pitcher Taijuan Walker (shoulder) from the disabled list and optioned him to Class AAA Tacoma. Manager Lloyd McClendon said there is no set amount of starts he’d like to see from Walker before a potential call-up. “I just want to see the kid get healthy and play well. I think it’s beyond trying to rush him. The ideal now is to get him built and get him pitching consistently and feeling good about what he’s doing. At that point, then we can make a decision.”
• Pitcher James Paxton (shoulder) has been playing catch, but there are no immediate plans for him to start throwing off a mound, McClendon said.
• Tuesday marked the 1,000th MLB game for Mariners utility man Willie Bloomquist, a Bremerton-area product.
• Michael Saunders (shoulder) returned to the lineup after missing three games. Justin Smoak (quad) was out for the fourth consecutive time, and McClendon estimated the first baseman is still only 70 to 75 percent healthy.
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