SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Two former Cal Poly standouts — baseball outfielder Mitch Haniger and football cornerback Asa Jackson — have found homes with new teams.
The Detroit Lions, seeking a replacement for injured cornerback Quandre Diggs, signed Jackson off the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad Tuesday. Jackson is now with his fifth National Football League team since he was drafted by the Ravens in the fifth round in 2012.
Haniger was traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Seattle Mariners last month and, during this week's Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Maryland, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto told MLB.com that Haniger could be a hidden gem and what his club sorely needed to find this offseason.
Jackson appeared in 18 games for the Ravens the past four years, including six starts in 2014. The signing reconnects the 5-foot-10, 183-pounder with Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who served as the Ravens' secondary coach from 2009-13.
"Thanks so much all my Lions fans that welcomed me to the D!," Jackson, who turned 27 last week, tweeted. "Let's work!!!!"
The Ravens signed Jackson to the practice squad on Oct. 18. He was promoted to the active roster about a month later, but was not active for any games. He was waived on Nov. 26 before being re-signed to the Ravens practice squad three days later.
In 18 career games (six starts) with the Ravens, Jackson has totaled 27 total tackles (22 solo), one tackle for loss and three pass defenses. In 2012, he appeared in the team's AFC Divisional round game vs. Denver (1/12/13).
Jackson was waived by the Ravens after the final preseason game in 2015. The New York Giants claimed Jackson off waivers but he was waived two days later. Baltimore signed Jackson to the practice squad and he was re-signed to the active roster in October. He was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury and was waived off injured reserve in mid-November.
The Cincinnati Bengals signed Jackson to the practice squad on Nov. 30. Jackson signed a futures contract with Arizona last January 28.
Jackson was a four-time first-team All-Great West Conference honoree from 2008-11 at Cal Poly, including Freshman Player of the Year honors in 2008. Jackson notched 199 tackles in four seasons with the Mustangs along with eight interceptions (two in each season) and 32 pass breakups. In his senior campaign, Jackson had 54 tackles (31 solo) with two interceptions, both returned for touchdowns, and seven pass breakups.
Haniger and shortstop Jean Segura were acquired by Seattle the day before Thanksgiving for starting pitcher Taijuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte.
"For us, Haniger became a critical element of the trade," Dipoto said. "We like the player. We like the upside. We like his physicality.
"He's athletic, plays all three spots, throws very well and very accurately," Dipoto added. "He's an excellent defender, he's hungry, he's got great makeup."
Haniger, who hit .341 with 20 home runs and 64 RBI in 74 games at Reno last summer, was called up by Arizona on August 16, becoming the 17th former Mustang to play in the Majors. After playing 10 games with the Diamondbacks, he returned to Reno for two weeks before his September call-up by Arizona.
Haniger hit .229 in 34 games with the D-Backs, smashing five home runs and knocking in 17. He hit his first Major League home run Sept. 12 against Colorado and produced a 10-for-30 run at the plate with two home runs and eight RBI.
Haniger was drafted in the Compensation A round (which followed the first round), the 38th overall pick, by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012 and signed for $1,200,000. He, along with Anthony Banda, was acquired from Milwaukee in 2014 in the trade that sent Gerardo Parra to the Brewers.
The second-highest Mustang ever drafted by Major League Baseball, Haniger became Cal Poly's first All-American in five years when Collegiate Baseball newspaper placed him on the Louisville Slugger second team. He also earned second-team All-America Honors from Baseball America.
Haniger was the third Mustang to earn Big West Conference Player of the Year honors, following Kyle Blumenthal in 2005 and Grant Desme in 2007. He was the runaway Big West Conference leader in home runs (13), RBI (64), slugging percentage (.626), total bases (132) and sacrifice flies (7) in 2012.
Haniger hit .346 with 18 doubles and a triple while stealing six of 12 bases in 2012. In three years with the Mustangs, Haniger finished fourth all-time with 26 career home runs, tied for No. 3 with 47 career doubles and tied for No. 5 with 137 career RBI. He hit .274 as a sophomore and .326 as a freshman en route to Big West Freshman Player of the Year honors in 2010.
Haniger was drafted in the 31st round by the New York Mets following his senior year at San Jose's Archbishop Mitty High School (2009) and has a brother, Jason, who was a four-year catcher at Georgia Tech and drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 19th round in 2008. He never signed.