School: University of Miami (Florida)
Selected 2009 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (34): This past winter when I was researching amateurs eligible for the 2009 MLB Draft, Ryan Jackson was a player of interest for the Cardinals in the early rounds of the draft. Jackson was considered to be one of the top defenders in the country and a player that was sure to stay at the shortstop position (rare for a college player at the position). The jury was out at on his bat and unfortunately for him, but not the Cardinals, he did not do anything to discourage the naysayers during his final season at the University of Miami.
Jackson has a major league frame. He's 6-foot-3, and has great range and soft hands. Scouts love his fluidity and the way he makes even the hard plays look easy.
At the plate, a lot of scouts like neither his setup nor his swing. He possesses below average power while possessing average speed at best, not a good combination.
A veteran of Team USA, Jackson provides the Cardinals with tremendous upside if he can develop his hit tool. The day he was drafted he became the best defensive infielder in the Cardinals' system. If the team can rebuild his swing and approach at the plate, he could be your shortstop of the future. But admittedly, a lot would have to fall perfectly into place.
Message board community (44): Ryan Jackson was the Cards fifth round pick in 2009 and will come to spring training at 21 years of age. His best tool is his defense, which is hard to detect for those of us who don't actually see him much. (I caught him in just one game.) A knowledgeable poster who has seen him play describes him as the best defensive SS this side of Brendan Ryan. Maybe there's something about one of one's names being "Ryan." [Maybe if I change one of mine, I can still make it?]
Jackson got a vote to be 24th in the community rankings, but otherwise was not voted for in the top 40. The .538 OPS in 245 AB at Batavia is probably what has pushed him down the rankings. He did a good job of drawing a walk, with 29 in just 245 AB's. Thus his OBP (.297) though too low was not that terrible. But he had very little power, with just four doubles and a triple in those AB's, and SLG of .241.
The same poster I mentioned before suggested that there was a lot of movement in his swing. In principle, that's coachable. Here's hoping. Jackson also could use some weight. He's listed at 6-foot-3, 180, but he seems thinner than that. He did manage a .271 BA, .392 OBP in 98 AB's with runners on. But that could well just show that he does well against pitchers who have been struggling (and so allowing runners…).
Sometimes it helps to compare prospects at the same level of play. Here are the stats for three middle infielders in their first seasons at short season A-ball. Pete Kozma had a .401 OPS at Batavia, though in just 27 AB and at age 19. Brendan Ryan put up a .363 OBP and .788 OPS in 193 AB's at age 21. Donovan Solano posted a .341 OBP, .653 OPS in 77 B's at age 17. So, on the offensive side, at least, Jackson's first season lagged behind those of Ryan and Solano. Here's hoping for lots of meat and milkshakes in his diet, and minimalism in his batting stroke. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (33): I really want to be a Jackson backer. He comes from a major program with a solid pedigree and was drafted relatively early. Jackson was the first infielder taken by the Cardinals this past June, but fell to the fifth round after having been projected by some to be a first- or second-round talent. Since his career has been so limited to date and he is still just 21 years of age, I am willing to rank him fairly aggressively – this time.
On the other hand, when I spoke with him this summer, Jackson readily acknowledged his struggles, mentioning the step up to using wooden bats at least three times. He also noted there was a necessary adjustment to the speed of professional competition. There is no denying the Cardinals placed Jackson at a level at which he should have been more effective, so measurable progress in 2010 will be important.
Link to video (On right menu, scroll down, click "Draft Prospects A – M", then locate Jackson's name.)
Our 2010 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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