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Mariners expect big things from young Boog

Prospect Powell projects as on-base machine
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- When new Mariners skipper Scott Servais and general manager Jerry Dipoto preach to their players this season about the need to control the strike zone, work pitchers and ultimately do whatever to get on base more often, they'll find a ready pupil in Boog Powell.

And that, of course, is a big reason the young outfielder is now part of the Mariners' organization, working out daily in Peoria, Ariz., already in preparation for the start of Spring Training later this month.

SEATTLE -- When new Mariners skipper Scott Servais and general manager Jerry Dipoto preach to their players this season about the need to control the strike zone, work pitchers and ultimately do whatever to get on base more often, they'll find a ready pupil in Boog Powell.

And that, of course, is a big reason the young outfielder is now part of the Mariners' organization, working out daily in Peoria, Ariz., already in preparation for the start of Spring Training later this month.

• Mariners Spring Training info

Seattle acquired Powell, 23, as part of a six-player trade with the Rays in November, the first deal Dipoto made as he began reworking the Mariners' 40-man roster to better fit his vision of a team equipped to compete in Safeco Field.

Video: Prospects Powell, O'Neill talk at Mariners FanFest

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Californian has shown a penchant for a high on-base percentage, the ability to run and defend and generally be the kind of baseball player Dipoto wants.

The Mariners held a hitting summit in Peoria a few weeks ago for 15 of their top young prospects during which the new "controlling the strike zone" philosophy began being drummed into the players' heads. And Powell, the Mariners' No. 6 prospect, couldn't help but smile as the message played out.

"That's what I believe in," he said at last weekend's FanFest. "Getting on base, working counts, that's me. And I'm happy to be here with that philosophy. Hopefully it works during the season. It's all already been in my mind since I got drafted. That's the game I play."

Powell split last year between Double-A and Triple-A in the Rays system, and if things go as expected this spring, he'll likely open this year in Triple-A Tacoma. But the youngster certainly will get a long look in Cactus League play and figures as next in line behind Leonys Martin in center field as well as a contender for a corner spot if he proves he can hit Major League pitching.

Video: Minor Leaguers Boog Powell, Drew Jackson join FanFest

"This is a very important camp for me," Powell said. "I'm hoping to be with the Mariners for a long time. I hope I get the callup during the year so I can play my game and see where that takes me."

If that call comes in time to make the road trip to Baltimore in mid-May, well, that would be even better still. Powell has spent much of his life explaining why he's called "Boog" Powell, the same name as the former Orioles slugger who now owns a restaurant on Eutaw Street just outside Camden Yards.

The Mariners' version was born Herschel Mack Powell IV, but it turns out those names were taken.

"They called my grandpa Herschel. They called my dad Mack and I needed a name when I was a kid," he said. "I went by Little Mack for a little, then Boog just stuck. My dad started calling me that and my dad coached me in baseball. I went to school with baseball friends and they would call me that in school, and then everybody just started calling me Boog. ... I know what comes with it, but that's what I go by and I love it."

Video: Powell, Jackson discuss upcoming season at FanFest

The original Boog Powell was a 6-foot-4, 230-pound slugger who won the American League MVP in 1970 and finished his career with 339 home runs.

The younger Boog Powell has totaled six homers in four Minor League seasons in the A's and Rays organizations, but caught Dipoto's eye with his .308 batting average and .401 on-base percentage.

"I'm a complete opposite player," he said. "I get on base, he hit home runs. That's how it is."

And he's more than happy to embrace that role.

"Yeah, that's what I pride myself on, my speed and getting on base, working counts," he said. "That's my goal. I won't get very far if I don't do all that stuff."

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seattle Mariners, Boog Powell