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Draftee Bishop devoted to Alzheimer's cause

Mother of Mariners' third-round pick diagnosed with disease at 52

SEATTLE -- For University of Washington center fielder Braden Bishop, getting drafted by his hometown Mariners in the third round Tuesday was a double dose of good news.

Not only will Bishop get a chance to begin his professional baseball career in the same city where he's played the past three seasons, he can continue a project near and dear to his heart -- a 4MOM charity to raise funds and awareness for early-onset Alzheimer's, a disease his mother, Suzy, was diagnosed with last fall at 52.

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"It's very important to me," Bishop said from the UW campus, where he is preparing for his last final exam of the school year on Wednesday. "My mom is my biggest advocate, so I'm going to be hers as well. It's tough to see her struggle, but it definitely puts things into perspective for me.

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"If I struggle, I know she's going through a lot worse," he said. "For her to bring [her battle with Alzheimer's] to light has been very important for me. It provides motivation for me every day. Every difference I can make to fight this and show her this is not going to win is important to me."

• Draft Central

Through Bishop's urging, all the UW and Arizona players penned "4MOM" on their arms in black ink in a Mother's Day game -- an undertaking joined by Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker as well -- and he's held a charity weightlifting competition already and organized a charity softball game in September to help raise funds. He's hopeful his entry into the Mariners' organization further helps raise awareness and money for the cause.

• Draft Tracker

"I'm excited to be in an area where I can join with other players to advocate for me and with me and this whole thing," he said. "I think a platform of being a pro athlete definitely changes it and brings it to light a little more than it already has, which was pretty good already."

Suzy Bishop was a track standout at UCLA who went on to a successful career as a producer, working on the shows JAG and Law and Order and winning an Emmy for Separate But Equal, the story of Thurgood Marshall. Bishop's father, Randy, played college baseball at UNLV before entering a career in law enforcement.

Video: Draft Report: Braden Bishop, College Outfielder

Now the 21-year-old is carving out his own niche and was thrilled to hear his name called by the Mariners.

"It's an honor to be picked in the MLB Draft at all," he said. "I definitely don't take that lightly -- both to be chosen and by a team I'm familiar with right here in town. I love Safeco Field and watching them play. I'm really excited."

Bishop has a reputation as a defensive stalwart who needs to improve offensively after hitting .295 with a .385 on-base percentage, but he's ready to prove there's more to his game than expected.

"I have heard a lot through the Draft process that's been made pretty public that I have a weak bat, but I never believed that," he said. "I bought into a role here at UW that called for me to get on base any way I could.

"I sacrificed power numbers to get on base for guys that could drive me in, and that was a stereotype that was put on me," Bishop said. "But I'm going to work with the coaches to take my bat to the next level. I'm willing and eager to do that."

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

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.
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