Age: 22[image title="lvzvsysz" size="full" id="2752" align="right" ]
Weight: 185 lbs
2008 Team: Double-A Trenton Thunder
Current Team: Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees
The good: Austin Jackson fits most people’s definition of an all-around player. He possses above-average tools across the board. What does this mean? It means that he’ll take his walks, hit his home runs, maintain a respectable batting average, and do his job in the field. His minor league career has operated in fits and starts, but he has been a very strong hitter a the times that he has put all of his physical pieces together. His hitting skills resemble those of Derek Jeter, but with less ability to hit for average.
The bad: Jackson has some flaws. He strikes out a lot, which has hurt his batting average. Luckily, he also has a strong line drive stroke and speed, which has enabled him to keep his minor league BABIP around .357. That won’t last in the majors, but its a sign that the ball jumps off his bat. Reports on Jackson’s fielding skills have been mixed. At times, he gets praise being being a superb center fielder. At times, scouts say that he takes terrible routes to balls, and only looks respectable thanks to his athleticism. Jackson is not blazingly fast, and won’t be a tremendous asset as a base stealer.
Projection: There is reason to believe that Jackson still has a lot of room for improvement. He didn’t start playing baseball full time until he was drafted by the Yankees. He is currently (along with the rest of Scranton) tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A, hitting ,480/.563/.560 to start the season. The Yankees would probably prefer to let him develop in Triple-A for now, since he still has learning to do. He’s still got defensive skills to learn, and power to gain.
Reasons to be optimistic: I think that Austin Jackson has a lot of Bernie Williams in him. He’s an athletic center fielder without tons of fielding sense, but lots of hitting skills. Bernie struggled in the minors to hit for power like Jackson often does. Jackson may be one of those “The whole is greater than the sum of their parts” guys. When Jackson has clicked, he has dominated minor league pitchers. He takes his walks, and should maintain a high OBP regardless of power. Jackson has also been exceptionally healthy in the minors, and rarely misses a game.
Reasons to be pessimistic: Really, we’re just hoping for the power to develop. Except for a half-season in A-Ball, Jackson has never looked like a slugger. Realistically, we can’t expect him to hit home runs outside of the 10-15 per year range. He probably can’t play with that power in a corner outfield position. This means that Jackson needs to prove his critics wrong and play a strong defensive game. Can he do it? I wouldn’t bet against him.
Bottom Line: He he his flaws, but Austin Jackson is still pretty good. In a few months, he could be ready for the Bronx.
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