Jackson Needs To Be Aggressive

MANCHESTER, NH - Justin Jackson can't hit. Or can he? Upon following the former first round draft pick, one might wring their hands in frustration as he goes hitless in three straight games, like he did last week. Then, the young centerfielder will enjoy back to back three-hit performances, also like he did last week against the Trenton Thunder.

On nights like those, it looks Jackson might just have it in him. Where does he go on the three game batting slumps, then?

For a guy who is starting develop into a capable centerfielder and base runner, the lack of a bat might be what holds Jackson back in the near future. New Hampshire hitting coach Jon Nunnally says it all has to do with confidence in his plate, because, to him, it seems very apparent that Jackson possesses the ability to hit.

"We know he's got a pop in his swing," Nunnally said Wednesday morning. The problem, he says, is to get him confident enough to swing his bat at the right pitch.

Confidence is something Jackson has struggled with in the past, and Nunnally and Fisher Cats manager Sal Fasano told Futurejays.com back in April that the centerfielder was finally showing signs of overcoming the timidity that he carried with him seasons before. That month, his average was peaking above .400.

This kind of production has gone down since then. Friday night against the Bowie Baysox, he got first base hit in seven games.

Jackson has simply been slipping back into his old, timid self. Many times, Jackson takes too many pitches. He'll wait and wait until his pitch comes. Sometimes, he'll draw a walk, like he has 21 times this year. Often, though, he will strike out, as he has 44 times in 2012.

Jackson has gotten good wood on the ball plenty, but Nunnally says a lot of those solid knocks have gone right into the fielder's glove. Jackson's problem is that he will watch "his pitch" sail by him, and he won't swing again until he sees another one just like it. In Double-A, those pitches don't come around a second time very often.

Jackson, originally a shortstop, is starting to fit well in centerfield. This is his first full season as a starting centerfielder, and, early on, the growing pains stood out obviously. In the opening home series against the New Britain Rock Cats, Jackson had a couple missed reads, including a dropped ball.

He now has six errors on the year, but steadily over the last two and a half months, moments like these have vanished. Jackson still misses a read here and there, but he has learned how to use his brilliant speed to make up for it. Friday, June 8th, against the Baysox, Jackson caught up with a slow read by laying out for a crowd stirring diving catch. Recently, not many balls have hit his outfield grass.

"Well, his reads are actually getting better and that's the thing," Fasano said. "The better jumps, he's actually making better decisions out there. So he's starting to understand when to take a chance and when not to take a chance."

Jackson has been making good use of his quick release and powerful arm. That same game, he nearly gunned down a runner at home plate, averted by no less than a spectacular slide by the Baysox runner.

"He's always had that," Fasano said. "That's one of those tools that he's always been able to nurture. He's got a great arm. He can throw with anybody. It's one the tools, and when he lets it shine he shows everyone what it can do."

Jackson has also developed as a base runner. Right now, he is tied for first on the team with nine stolen bases, along with shortstop Ryan Goins and left fielder John Tolisano.

"On the bases, it's just, once you take the fear out of the equation, you're able to let your ability shine, and that's what he's been able to do in all aspects of the game," Fasano said.

All aspects, it seems, except at the plate. Nunnally said that Jackson's problem can't be solved by simply hacking away at breaking balls and changeups. Most hitters can't connect well on those. Nunnally's philosophy has always been to wait for that special pitch to knock out of the park.

If Jackson wants to succeed, he's going to need to pick up on that pitch earlier than he has been. His two hits Friday night were nice to see, but if he continues his trend, he may not hit for another three, four, or even six games.


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nOn nights like those, it looks Jackson might just have it in him. Where does he go on the three game batting slumps, then?
\r\n
\r\nFor a guy who is starting develop into a capable centerfielder and base runner, the lack of a bat might be what holds Jackson back in the near future. New Hampshire hitting coach Jon Nunnally says it all has to do with confidence in his plate, because, to him, it seems very apparent that Jackson possesses the ability to hit.
\r\n
\r\n\"We know he's got a pop in his swing,\" Nunnally said Wednesday morning. The problem, he says, is to get him confident enough to swing his bat at the right pitch.
\r\n
\r\nConfidence is something Jackson has struggled with in the past, and Nunnally and Fisher Cats manager Sal Fasano told Futurejays.com back in April that the centerfielder was finally showing signs of overcoming the timidity that he carried with him seasons before. That month, his average was peaking above .400.
\r\n
\r\nThis kind of production has gone down since then. Friday night against the Bowie Baysox, he got first base hit in seven games.
\r\n
\r\nJackson has simply been slipping back into his old, timid self. Many times, Jackson takes too many pitches. He'll wait and wait until his pitch comes. Sometimes, he'll draw a walk, like he has 21 times this year. Often, though, he will strike out, as he has 44 times in 2012.
\r\n
\r\nJackson has gotten good wood on the ball plenty, but Nunnally says a lot of those solid knocks have gone right into the fielder's glove. Jackson's problem is that he will watch \"his pitch\" sail by him, and he won't swing again until he sees another one just like it. In Double-A, those pitches don't come around a second time very often.
\r\n
\r\nJackson, originally a shortstop, is starting to fit well in centerfield. This is his first full season as a starting centerfielder, and, early on, the growing pains stood out obviously. In the opening home series against the New Britain Rock Cats, Jackson had a couple missed reads, including a dropped ball.
\r\n
\r\nHe now has six errors on the year, but steadily over the last two and a half months, moments like these have vanished. Jackson still misses a read here and there, but he has learned how to use his brilliant speed to make up for it. Friday, June 8th, against the Baysox, Jackson caught up with a slow read by laying out for a crowd stirring diving catch. Recently, not many balls have hit his outfield grass.
\r\n
\r\n\"Well, his reads are actually getting better and that's the thing,\" Fasano said. \"The better jumps, he's actually making better decisions out there. So he's starting to understand when to take a chance and when not to take a chance.\"
\r\n
\r\nJackson has been making good use of his quick release and powerful arm. That same game, he nearly gunned down a runner at home plate, averted by no less than a spectacular slide by the Baysox runner.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's always had that,\" Fasano said. \"That's one of those tools that he's always been able to nurture. He's got a great arm. He can throw with anybody. It's one the tools, and when he lets it shine he shows everyone what it can do.\"
\r\n
\r\nJackson has also developed as a base runner. Right now, he is tied for first on the team with nine stolen bases, along with shortstop Ryan Goins and left fielder John Tolisano.
\r\n
\r\n\"On the bases, it's just, once you take the fear out of the equation, you're able to let your ability shine, and that's what he's been able to do in all aspects of the game,\" Fasano said.
\r\n
\r\nAll aspects, it seems, except at the plate. \r\nNunnally said that Jackson's problem can't be solved by simply hacking away at breaking balls and changeups. Most hitters can't connect well on those. Nunnally's philosophy has always been to wait for that special pitch to knock out of the park.
\r\n
\r\nIf Jackson wants to succeed, he's going to need to pick up on that pitch earlier than he has been. His two hits Friday night were nice to see, but if he continues his trend, he may not hit for another three, four, or even six games.
\r\n
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