In White, the Mariners believe they have drafted a potential Gold Glove first baseman.
Scott Hunter, the Seattle Mariners’ first-year director of amateur scouting, flew to Lexington, Kentucky, a few weeks ago to personally assess an Evan White workout.
Teammates and coaches had been lavishing praise on White, the University of Kentucky’s star first baseman. Hunter wanted to get a better sense of White, the person, with his own eyes, and to do so he stayed on campus an extra day, watching a practice in the rain one afternoon.
“I would say he passed with flying colors,” Hunter said Monday evening, shortly after the Mariners made White their first-round pick (No. 17 overall) in the MLB draft.
“As I told him on the phone tonight, he had me at hello. It’s a corny joke, but a true one. He’s really one of the special kids that really lit you up. … This is a kid we all can root for.”
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As a junior this year, White hit .373 with 10 home runs, 41 RBI and 25 walks with a .453 on-base percentage and a .637 slugging percentage in 53 games. Baseball America named him to its All-America second team this year.
“It’s been an incredible day,” White said in a conference call. “I really can’t put in words how much this means to me and my family. … I’m going to have to pinch myself to make sure I’m living this. It’s a dream come true and I’m very thankful for the Mariners giving me this opportunity.”
White is expected to sign with the Mariners soon. He’s scheduled to fly to Seattle on Friday for a physical exam, and will spend a day or two with the big-league club next week before reporting to the Class A Everett AquaSox.
In White, the Mariners believe they have drafted a future Gold Glove first baseman. When discussing White’s glovework, Hunter evoked the name of former Mariner John Olerud, and on a scout’s standard 20-to-80 grading scale Hunter put White in the 70 range.
White said he tries to emulate the defense of the Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, a three-time Gold Glove winner.
“When I met with him and spoke to his coaches, they rave about him — not only his routine but his dedication to the game, his teammates and also playing first base,” Hunter said. “I’ve gotten a lot of people who have compared him to major-league first basemen that are in the upper echelon, where we’re talking ‘70’ to ‘80’ defenders. … This is the type of first baseman who makes everyone around him better. He’s going to save runs for an infield.”
Hometown: Gahanna, Ohio
Noteworthy: Grandfather and uncle played in the Cincinnati Reds organization. Favorite team growing up was the Cincinnati Reds. A 2017 second-team All-American (Baseball America), and the 2016 Rawlings Gold Glove winner at first base.