School: Rancho Bernardo HS (CA)
Height/Weight: 6‘2”, 220
College Commitment: Oregon
Baseball America loves Jackson’s ability to use the whole field and calls his bat speed “electric” with a “knack for making hard contact”. That would certainly be a refreshing change from the likes of Courtney Hawkins and Jared Mitchell. They also say that he could become “solid” defensively at catcher if given the time to develop, but has also shown promise at 3B and could play corner OF spot too (most likely RF where he could make best use of his plus arm strength). Baseball America also calls Jackson’s power potential “plus to plus-plus”, though most other outlets merely call his power potential plus.
“Jackson’s standout tool is his right-handed power, which he generates with bat speed and strength. He has enough feel for hitting that he could produce .280 batting averages in the Major Leagues. To do that, he’ll need to curb a tendency for his swing that gets long at times which causes him to miss hittable fastballs”. –MLB.com
“Jackson’s a very physical kid, 6-foot-1 or so and probably pushing 220 pounds at this point, with a mostly clean, potent right-handed swing that should generate line-drive power to his pull side and at least doubles power to the opposite field”. –Keith Law, ESPN
“Huge power, very good bat. Physically maxed. Defensive questions. Has seemed to have given up on catching. 3B is an option. RF likely but bat has MVP type potential”. -MinorLeagueBall
Note: these grades are my summations based on all readily available scouting information from sources such as Baseball America, MLB.com and ESPN (Present/Future, 20-80 scale):
Prospect Overview and Future Outlook:
Alex Jackson is the first offensive prospect that we have previewed here at FutureSox and while the general consensus is the Sox are targeting a pitcher at #3, Jackson cannot be ruled out. He’s the top hitter in this draft, and probably the only hitter who deserves to go this high based on talent level. He offers a good combination of ability to hit for both power and average as well as a strong arm. If you were convinced of his ability to stick at catcher then he would look a lot better in my eyes. Personally, while I do like Jackson, I worry that he doesn’t quite have the superstar potential that you look for from a #3 pick if he has to move to the outfield. He has very good bat speed but his overall package doesn’t excite me if he’s moved from behind the plate.
I think that Jackson’s ability to hit may also be somewhat overstated, especially by Baseball America. A few scouting reports have noted that his swing can get long and his timing isn’t always great (perhaps a by-product of his high leg kick). If he can clean this up a bit then I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes a plus hitter, but I think there’s a strong chance he ends up with a K% in the 22-25% range. Admittedly you can live with this if he’s hitting 30+ bombs a year, but an average in the .260-.270 range is certainly nothing special.
For Jackson’s ceiling there are a wide range of possible outcomes depending on what his eventual home is defensively. At best he could become a .290 hitting catcher with 30 home run ability. That would make him one of the best players in baseball. On the lower end of the spectrum he could be a .260 hitting corner outfielder with 20+ home run ability. Still a good player, but not quite #3 overall pick calibre. This is of course assuming he doesn’t flame out in the minors and can at least get somewhere close to his ceiling. I do like Jackson, but given that the Sox are guaranteed to have one of the big three pitchers available to select (Carlos Rodon, Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek) I am hoping that Jackson’s name is not called on draft day.
If you like comparisons there have been two recent high profile draftees with a similar C/OF profile to Jackson and they are Bryce Harper and Wil Myers. Now Jackson doesn’t have close to the same power potential as Harper, but Myers could be a reasonable comp.