Jackson burst into the Minors last season, finishing as the Class A Northwest League MVP, and showing a strong bat to match his plus speed, defense and arm.
Last weekend against San Jose, Jackson showed a short, quick swing from a slightly open stance. He stands tall and holds his hands high around the shoulder with a small load that creates consistent gap power. He won’t be a big home run hitter, but his swing balance allows the bat to stay in the hitting zone leading to high contact. He has patience on pitches out of the zone, and looks for fastballs to drive early in the count. At times he drops the bat head, leading to a small loop, and swinging through off-speed pitches away.
His plus speed (4.17 HP-to-1B, 4.3 on the turn to 2nd) helps him beat out ground balls and allows him to take chances on the base path, like he did tagging and getting to 3rd on a sac fly to the left field. I’d like to have seen the same base-stealing ability he had last year (47 stolen bases in 51 attempts) but his smart, aggressive baserunning puts defenders on their heels, and allows him to go 1st-to-3rd with ease.
Defensively, Jackson was smooth and has great body control that shows off his lean-muscled, athletic build. He’s a natural shortstop that covers a ton of territory with a quick-twitch first step to get to balls up the middle and in the 5.5 hole. He showed a 70-grade arm, first zipping the ball across the diamond from a backhand in the 5.5 hole, and then again on a play up the middle where he slid on his hip, turned and threw.
Overall, Jackson profiles as an above-average defensive shortstop that can hit early in the lineup, get on base, and score runs. I expect him to be pushed up to Double-A after the All-Star break to test his talent against more polished competition.