SEATTLE - University of California San Diego senior outfielder Jack Larsen has signed a professional free-agent contract with the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball (MLB).
Larsen, a four-year UC San Diego standout out of Mission Viejo and Capistrano Valley High School, was not selected during the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft, which concluded on June 14. He took part in the commencement ceremony for UCSD's Muir College on Saturday evening, having just completed his undergraduate degree in communication, with a business minor. Larsen flew to Arizona on Monday to sign his contract at the Peoria Sports Complex, the spring training home of the Mariners. He will remain in Peoria and begin his pro career as a member of the AZL Mariners in the rookie Arizona League (AZL). Their season opens this Saturday against the AZL Padres 2.
Larsen absolutely saved his best for last, turning in career highs nearly across the board in his final campaign in a UCSD uniform, while producing arguably the greatest single postseason in program history. He led the Tritons to the NCAA West Region title in Azusa on May 22, in between runner-up efforts in both the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship in Stockton and NCAA Championship in Dallas, Texas. Larsen made the All-Tournament Team for all three events, earning CCAA Championship Co-Most Outstanding Player distinction.
Larsen was one of three Tritons to play in all 63 games in 2017, and one of just two to start each contest, with 60 in right field and three in center. He appeared in the leadoff spot of head coach Eric Newman's order for the first time in his college days on April 14, and made the permanent move on April 27, beginning the last 24 games in a row there. Larsen hit .362 (83-229) with 71 runs, 23 doubles, 15 home runs, 66 RBI, 153 total bases, 56 walks, a .668 slugging percentage and .497 on-base percentage, all career bests. He fielded all 155 defensive chances cleanly, leading the team for a second year in a row with his seven outfield assists.
Larsen leaves UCSD ranked in the top 10 in several categories. He broke program standards for career (144) and single-season (56) walks. The latter total made him a 2017 statistical champion for Division II. The career .332 hitter shares the No. 4 spot in home runs (27), and is No. 5 in runs (172), hits (259) and RBI (161), and No. 7 in doubles (51). Larsen ended his time as a collegian with a 45-game reached-base streak intact, a record at least for the program's D-II era since 2001, if not ever.
Larsen was chosen by league head coaches to the All-CCAA Second Team after back-to-back first-team nods, ahead of his torrid finish. He was then named to the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings and Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) All-West Region second teams. Larsen added National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) All-West Region honorable mention. He is a three-time UCSD Athlete of the Year.
For the 16-game 2017 postseason, Larsen hit .452 (28-62) and slugged .919 with 57 total bases, 19 walks, 11 doubles, six home runs, 25 runs and 21 RBI. While most everyone in Division II wrapped up the regular season by the end of the first week in May, after May 1 alone, he posted 24 walks, 14 doubles, eight home runs, 32 runs and 32 RBI, hitting .455 (35-77) and slugging .948 (73 TB) over 20 contests.
Categories in which Larsen paced the CCAA as a senior, in addition to walks, included on-base percentage, runs, hits, RBI, doubles and home runs, as he topped two of three statistics that constitute a triple crown, while placing eighth in average.
UC San Diego went 44-19 overall in 2017, achieving the second-most wins in program history, behind only the 54 from 2010, when the Tritons won their second consecutive West Region crown and also were national runners-up. This time around, they fell two victories shy of a first national championship.