• Edwin Jackson

    Posted by on March 11th, 2008 · Comments (6)

    Tonight I find myself thinking about a non-Yankee baseball thought. It’s the story of Edwin Jackson.

    In the 2004 Edition of Baseball Prospectus, on Jackson, it said: “Some people consider Jackson to be the best pitcher under 21 in professional baseball. It’s easy to understand why: After a full-season at Double-A Jacksonville at the age of 19 (where he struck out more than a batter per inning, and posted a K:BB ratio of three-to-one), Jackson debuted at Dodger Stadium on his 20th birthday.” In fact, in the same BP 2004, Rany Jazayerli ranked Edwin Jackson as the best pitching prospect in baseball and the 6th best prospect overall in the game.

    And, BP was not alone in their praise of Jackson. In Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects 2004, they listed Edwin Jackson as the top pitching prospect in the game and the 4th best overall prospect in the game.

    Lastly, in his Baseball Prospect Book 2004, John Sickels listed Edwin Jackson as the third best pitching prospect in baseball – behind Zack Grienke and Ryan Wagner. Further, in an ESPN.com feature near the end of the 2003 season, this is what Sickels had to say about Jackson:

    Although he has yet to receive much media attention, Dodgers right-hander Edwin Jackson has snuck into the upper tier of minor-league pitching prospects.

    He has one of the best fastballs in the system, hitting 95 mph at times, with movement. He also has a very good slider. His curveball and changeup are inconsistent, but both have promise. Jackson’s command is excellent. He throws strikes with regularity, and his mechanics are both clean and consistent, which helps keep his command in gear. He has a good feel for pitching, needing only additional experience to round out his package of skills.

    There are no holes in Jackson’s stat line. His K/BB, K/IP, and H/IP ratios are all significantly above league average this year. Of note is the increase in his strikeout rate between last year and this season, especially impressive since the improvement has come at a higher level against older competition. Jackson has given up just 11 homers in his professional career, another good sign. Lefties have hit him at just a .188 clip this year, another positive marker.

    Jackson has had no significant injury problems. His athleticism and clean mechanics should help keep him healthy, and he has less mileage on his arm than many pitchers his age.

    So, what happened?

    Jackson tanked in 2004 and 2005. He lost some life on his fastball and command as well. And, prior to the season of 2006, he was traded by the Dodgers, at the age of 21, to the (then) Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

    Sadly, he struggled in 2006 as well. But, then in Spring Training of 2007, Edwin Jackson, still (then) just 23 years of age – the same age as Ian Kennedy and just a year older than Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes now – got back on track.

    During Spring Training 2007, Edwin Jackson pitched in 7 games, covering 20.6 innings, allowing just 17 hits while whiffing 18 batters. On the spring, his ERA was a sparkling 1.74 – and it appeared that Edwin was back to where he was at the start of 2004.

    And, what happened?

    Jackson, in 2007, pitching in the big leagues, tanked again. Of all the pitchers to log 150+ IP in the A.L., he was the least effective pitcher in the league.

    It’s pretty interesting how a guy can go from being considered, universally, as the best pitching prospect in the game at age 20 to being the worst pitcher in the majors at age 23 – without any serious injury to tie it back to as the cause.

    It just doesn’t seem possible, does it? But, it happened. Back at the end of 2003, I bet few predicted that the next four years would be as bad as they have been for Jackson. Baseball is a funny game.

    Comments on Edwin Jackson

    1. vocallytrnsfrmd
      March 12th, 2008 | 12:53 am

      Hey..that’s scary. I hope we don’t have any Edwin Jackson’s in the Big Three.

    2. Ference
      March 12th, 2008 | 1:00 am

      Is this post a way to misdirect us into admitting that your obsession with your belief in the imminent failure of Phil Highes is a likelihood? Why dont you just come out and say that you think Hughes will fail and you dont care about the minor league track record or the success he has had at the majors already? Why try to hide it by posting about Edwin Jackson? The baseball field is littered with high prospects who have failed but we all choose to be fans with the hope that our team will be different. You seem to take pride in not being a homer or a “Pollyanna” Yankee fan but how is being hopeful that our universally regarded prospect might actually be the real thing considered being a homer? If you cant get psyched up about Phil Hughes as a Yankee fan then you might as well just call yourself a baseball fan and forget even affiliating yourself with a team.

    3. Andrew
      March 12th, 2008 | 1:30 am

      Oh, cool. So Tim Lincecum, Clay Buchholz, Matt Garza, Francisco Liriano, and Jon Lester (if he hasn’t already), are all going to fail too. Looks like most teams in the major leagues are in just as much, if not worse situations than the Yankees.

    4. Yu Hsing Chen
      March 12th, 2008 | 2:28 am

      it’s a RISK WE GET IT. YOUR NOT IMPLYING ANYTHING EXCEPT THAT YOU POSTED like 20 STRAIT POST BASICALLY HINTING THE SAME THING.

    5. Bradley
      March 12th, 2008 | 10:00 am

      So kids, the moral of this story is to be optimistic but not expectant.

    6. Sky
      March 12th, 2008 | 7:26 pm

      Jackson’s obviously not great, but he wasn’t as bad in 2007 as his 5.76 in indicated. Thanks to a disastrous Tampa Bay defense, his BABIP was .350 — that’s not him, that was the TEAM AVERAGE. His 2007 FIP was “only” 4.86. This will be his age 24 season, so there’s still time to bring down his walk rate. If he can get it under 4 BB/9, his ERA will be in the low 4.00s.

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