• Looking Ahead At Austin Jackson

    Posted by on November 11th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    Here are some “snips” from the recent Baseball America scouting report on Austin Jackson:

    Strengths: Jackson is a premium athlete who can do a little of everything on the diamond.

    Weaknesses: Reports on Jackson’s running ability are mixed. Some scouts say his big hack in the batter’s box leads to below-average times from home to first. He may slow down as he matures physically and have to move to an outfield corner, which would be a problem if his power fails to develop. He employs a leg kick and when his timing is off, the rest of his swing falters, leaving him late on good fastballs.

    The Future: Jackson’s greatest weakness may be what he’s not: a classic Yankees center fielder. He’s no DiMaggio or Mantle, or even Bernie Williams. Jackson lacks a standout tool but earns future grades of solid-average to plus across the board. His all-around ability fits the profile of a center fielder on a championship team, similar to Williams but with less power and better defense.

    When I digest this report, I think of a Dusty Baker circa 1972, or a Larry Herndon circa 1976, or a Shane Mack circa 1987, or a Rondell White circa 1995…

    And, if Austin Jackson turns out like these players, there’s nothing wrong with that. When you combine what the reports say…meaning that Jackson gets high marks for his “make-up” and the like…with play like that from a Baker, Herndon, Mack or White, you’re going to have a very nice player on your hands.

    In some ways, Paul O’Neill was this type of player…above average skills in some areas and average skills in others – combined with a hard-nosed approach to the game. And, we know that O’Neill was a key member on championship teams.

    Still, I wonder, if Austin Jackson is a .285/.360/.470 (BA/OBA/SLG) type player when he hits his stride at the major league level, will Yankees and their fans be happy with that?

    Or, will he been seen as the next verison of Juan Rivera and shipped off in a trade somewhere?

    Comments on Looking Ahead At Austin Jackson

    1. gphunt
      November 11th, 2008 | 10:04 pm

      I think he will be given a lot more chances than Juan Rivera to prove himself.

      also, when was the last time Yankees produced a consistent 285/.360/.470 player? I’d hope fans would be plenty satisfied with that.

    2. Scout
      November 12th, 2008 | 8:16 am

      This is not the profile of a future superstar. Others have likened him to a younger Mike Cameron — fine glove, good speed, strike-out prone. A useful piece on a good team, not the cornerstone. So it is important to keep the expectations in line with that and not to expect a savior. And also, for the impatient among us, a player likely to need several years in the majors to reach his level.

    3. AndrewYF
      November 12th, 2008 | 9:16 am

      Scout –

      compared to the OPS’s we’ve gotten from Bernie and Melky over the years, Jackson is going to seem like some kind of savior.

      Also, remember that he just started playing baseball full time 3 years ago. Jackson is still raw, but obviously extremely talented. It’s not like Mike Cameron is his ceiling.

    4. Scout
      November 12th, 2008 | 12:27 pm

      AndrewYF:
      As with so many of our conversations about prospects, only time will settle this. I hope you are correct. But players prone to striking out do not usually transform themselves into high-contact hitters. We can hope he becomes more selective over time.

    5. antone
      November 12th, 2008 | 3:07 pm

      Mike Cameron was still in A Ball at the age of 21 where he hit .248 with a .721 OPS. At 21 this past season, Jackson was in Double-A where he was hitting .285 with a .773 OPS. I think he has the potential to be a better hitter than Cameron average wise and we’ll have to wait and see if the power develops. Yes, the K rates are high but they were high for Cameron too. With similar K rates Jackson has put up a better average than Cameron, so maybe he is making the most of the times when he does put the ball in play. He is still very young and not done developing.

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