Alex Jackson, Rancho Bernardo H.S (CA)
Last week we took a look at high school shortstop Jacob Gatewood. We’ll keep it in the high school ranks this week and take a look at a fellow Californian in Alex Jackson– a high-ceiling, potential top five pick that I’ll be hoping the Mets can get their hands on.
Jackson is listed at 210, but he’s probably bigger than that– and not in a bad way. He’s a monster of a kid — built like a man already. He enters his senior season coming off a year that ended with him being named Baseball Prospectus’ Prospect of the Year. Already widely considered a top-10 pick and the best high schooler in the 2014 class, Jackson looks to add to his résumé and solidify his draft spot. He has verbally committed to attend Oregon University (not likely to happen).
Alex is a veritable tool-shed, and this may be his finest tool. Jackson has a smooth swing with above-average bat speed and strong hands. He demonstrates excellent plate coverage and an approach that is considered advanced for a player his age. He keeps his lower half quiet which allows him to stay balanced. Alex has a deep load and tends to wrap his bat, which can lead to his swing becoming long at times– a mechanical issue which can be fixed and shouldn’t be a problem long term.
Scouts are somewhat split on Jackson’s power. Some see plus raw power that could be his carrying tool, others think it’s above-average and is aided by his advanced hit tool. He uses his big frame and sturdy lower half to spray the ball out of the ballpark to all fields. Development and physical maturity may allow the power to play up in games, but it’s at least above-average power.
Before putting any grades on his defense you first have to decide where Jackson will play on the diamond. Most scouts like his chances to stick behind the dish. He’s athletic for a kid his size, and a hard worker as well. It’s definitely a work in progress, but the makings of an average catcher are there. Some scouts simply don’t think his defense behind the dish will be enough of a factor to risk keeping him there– a similar situation to that of Bryce Harper. Unless he’s going to be a game-changer, why risk all the foul-tips, collisions and the mental workload required of a catcher? I guess that question will be answered by the team drafting him. His most likely spot is right field where he figures to be at least average.
Current: 30 at C
Future: 50 at C, 55 in RF.
One reason scouts like the idea of keeping him as a backstop is his arm. Jackson has an absolute cannon– posting sub 1.80 pop times to second base. He likes to show his arm off as well, often attempting to back-pick runners. Should Alex move to the outfield, his arm would still be an exceptional weapon.
Jackson runs pretty well for a kid his size. The speed certainly isn’t a weapon, but he moves well and should handle right field just fine if need be.
Much like Gatewood, Jackson looks the part of a certain top five pick, making it unlikely he gets to the Mets when they pick 10th. His tools, combined with his excellent makeup has scouts drooling. However the draft is a long way off and there’s plenty of time for other players to pop-up and jump ahead of said players. There’s also the chance a player like Jackson falls due to expected demands considering the new draft budget and his college commitment.