Mariners' first-round draft pick Evan White talked about growing up a fan of Ken Griffey Jr., his lack of power and the Mariners' player who left him in awe.
The Mariners introduced Kentucky first baseman Evan White, the team’s first-round pick, on Friday. Here are five things to know about White after he spent the day at Safeco Field:
1, The first player he met was also the one he was most in awe of: Nelson Cruz.
“He is a big, big boy. You see him on TV, and you realize he’s a very strong guy,” White said. “But you don’t really realize his size until you meet him.”
2, He took batting practice with the Mariners before Friday’s game.
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And he was nervous. White put on a Mariners jersey for the first time at a press conference and took swings at Safeco Field.
“The first two rounds, I was a little nervous as I’m sure you guys could tell,” White said. “But after that I settled in pretty well.”
3, Speaking of batting practice, White talked about the perceived hole in his game: his lack of power.
So White took batting practice and one of his observations was just how big Safeco Field is.
“It’s huge,” White said. “I found that out during BP as well. The ball, at least with my power right now, it’s not going too many places.”
One of the knocks against White is that he doesn’t hit for much power, especially for a power-hitting position like first base. Even White has acknowledged this. He said he wasn’t going to try to hit 40 home runs with Class A Everett; he was just going to remain who he is.
“It was funny because when I did meet with him before I watched him play in a game,” Mariners scouting director Scott Hunter said. “I said, ‘Tell me why I’m here, and are you any good?’ Just to joke around and see what he says. I said, ‘Give me your scouting report.’ And he ran down every part of his game. I said, ‘What’s the one knock you think scouts have against you?’ He said, ‘Probably my power, but I stay with my approach,’ which is something we really value here as an organization.
“That night, God’s honest truth, I went right down to the on-deck circle, and he comes out, and I’m sure he saw me because I was standing right there. The first pitch he saw that night he went one about 420 (feet). And I went, Hmm, he just wanted to show me something. I don’t think we’re going to be talking about our questioning his power as he grows into his body.”
4, He is a really good defensive first baseman.
White won the collegiate gold glove award on Wednesday, the second straight year he won the award. That’s one of his strengths.
“Our area scout, Jackson Laumann, who identified him is still selling him to me even though we already signed the contract,” Hunter said. “But he had 1,500 attempts in college baseball, and he only had two errors in those 1,500 attempts. I wish Jackson would have told me that prior to the draft.”
5, He grew up a fan of Ken Griffey Jr. — with the Reds.
White is from Ohio, and both his grandfather and uncle played for the Reds organization, so naturally he grew up a Reds fan. That meant he was also a fan of Griffey Jr.
“He was someone I really looked up to,” White said. “When we were playing whiffle ball in the front yard, I hit lefty and tried to do his little stance. He’s definitely a guy I really looked up to.”