Q&A with Brett Jackson

From "I'm On A Boat" to being an art major, left-handed hitting outfielder Brett Jackson likes to do a little of everything. He also likes to hit and play baseball. Jackson, 20, batted .321 with 17 doubles and eight home runs in 53 games for the University of California in 2009 before being tabbed with the Chicago Cubs' first-round (31st overall) selection in the amateur player draft.

Q: How does it feel to be drafted in the first round by the Chicago Cubs?

A: I'm absolutely thrilled. To be honest, we were pulling for the Cubs the whole way and weren't sure if we could get there or picked there. When the time came, we hadn't even gotten the call and I was completely shocked, my family was shocked, and I think even my advisor was shocked. We're excited and what better organization to be drafted by than the Cubs. There's so much history and tradition, and I've been a Cubs fan and always followed them and enjoyed watching them. It's a dream come true and I thank the organization for giving me the opportunity.

I grew up a Giants fan as a Bay Area kid, but always liked the Cubs. There's something about the Cubs that is contagious. I spent the summer after my freshman year in Wisconsin and actually went for my 19th birthday to Wrigley Field with some buddies from the team, and that was an experience altogether. I sort of fell in love with the Cubs then and this is a dream come true.

Q: Are you ready to start your professional career right away?

A: Yeah, I feel blessed to be given this opportunity by this organization and am going to do my best to make them proud of their pick. I look forward to the future and helping out the Chicago Cubs, and I can't wait to get started and see if I can make an impact.

Q: You had a strong season at Cal. The Cubs believe you can really add some power as you get into the system. Is that what you're hoping for as well?

A: I think with experience and time, those are the sort of things that are going to work out for me. I think my family and my coaches in the past have instilled a work ethic in me and I think that work ethic is going to pay off and eventually turn me into a player that belongs and can make an impact on an organization. I'm just excited to get that opportunity with the Cubs.

Q: You stole 11 bases in 16 attempts last season. Do you run a lot, and did you get a chance to show off your speed on the bases at Cal?

A: I think speed is one of the biggest aspects of my game and is something I'm constantly working on; working on technique and base-stealing techniques. I really want to make that a big part of my game. I think it can be, and I think it will be with time and experience. It's another aspect of your game that can excel your game. Fortunately I have speed on my side and I think with the Chicago coaches, I can steal a few bases and change games with my speed.

Q: When the Cubs drafted Tyler Colvin a few years ago, they now say they hoped he could play center. They say they know you can play center. Is center field where you plan to play in the outfield?

A: Absolutely. It's my spot and I've grown accustomed to playing it here at Cal and am confident in my range in the outfield and in my arm. Defensively, I am a center fielder and I belong there.

Q: The Cubs also said they had about seven to nine guys scout you, either by coming to actually see you play or by breaking down video. Picking you, they said, was a pretty unanimous decision. Did you know the Cubs had that much interest in you?

A: I honestly had no idea. We'd seen on a couple of mock drafts that I was projected to be picked by them, but we hadn't had a lot of contact to be honest. It was a high hope for me, but not something I was going to fall back on and expect to happen by any means. When it did, I was thrilled and still haven't come back down yet.

Q: Another thing that Tim Wilken said was that they didn't want to compare you to anybody, per se, but that you had a little Jim Edmonds in you in the sense that you're a hard-nosed player; maybe not reckless with your body but you aren't afraid to sacrifice yourself to get to some tough plays. Do you agree with that assessment?

A: It's flattering to hear that. Yeah, I play the game hard. I play to win and that's the way I've always been and always will be. As far as recklessness, I don't know. But I take pride in the way I play and how hard I play. I plan to keep playing the same way and I'm flattered to be compared to Jim Edmonds in that regard. He was a role model to me growing up and a hell of a ballplayer.

Q: You drew a fair amount of walks (29) and had a solid on-base percentage (.407). Are the strikeouts (61) something you're overly focused on eliminating right now?

A: I think it's going to work itself out. It's a product of being over-aggressive in college baseball, and I honestly don't think strikeouts are a problem. I've never been a (heavy) strikeout hitter and I don't think I will be at the next level. It was just sort of that kind of year for me. I'm an aggressive hitter and you tend to swing at some pitches early and get yourself in deep counts. But I think with experience and coaching, strikeouts aren't going to be a problem and I don't worry about it being a hole in my game in the future.

Q: What are some things people don't know about you, away from the field?

A: We do some weird things out here, man. I'm an art major. That's usually the first thing I tell people. I really enjoy art and focus on painting ceramics. I love going to Lake Tahoe and it's a home away from home for me. I enjoy the lake and the boat. Other than that, I enjoy my family. One of the reasons I went to school close to home was so I could see my younger siblings grow up and be close to my family.

Q: Have you ever had any art published?

A: I've never published anything. I've taken some classes at Berkeley and plan to take more (in the future). I'm a student of art, just as I'm a student of baseball. It gives me another thing to focus on and something to get away from the game and enjoy in my off-time.

Q: Boating – are we talking fishing or more of an "I'm on a Boat" thing?

A: [laughs] That's great. I enjoy the area of Tahoe. I like being there and we have a 1992 or '93 Cobalt that I grew up on, and I just enjoy spending time out there and soaking in the sun. I'm not very good at fishing, but I think everyone loves Lake Tahoe. If you've been, you love it and it's a place I always look forward to going to.

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