At first glance, Bralin Jackson's intriguing combination of speed, power, and overall athleticism makes it seem like the Rays may have landed themselves a steal in the 5th round of this year's draft. But like any player just drafted out of high school, he is a long way away from reaching his full potential.
Fortunately for Jackson, the GCL is the perfect place for him to hone his skills and become more than just an athletic center fielder with power potential. To make that transition, he has already identified several key aspects of his game that he wants to get better at.
"The areas in my game that I think need improvement," Jackson said, "are my batters eye being more selective at the plate, and working counts. Defensively, it would be getting better breaks on balls in the outfield. They're hit a lot sharper and have more backspin."
He has already gotten help of course, but to this point there hasn't been anything too new or radical. In fact, a simple batting practice approach seems to be working just fine.
The work so far seems to be paying off, as Jackson has posted respectable numbers early. He is currently sporting a line of .278/.307/.375 to go along with 11 runs scored through twenty games.
Aside from continually working to improve in all areas, Jackson has also brought the right mentality when it comes to his development, and it certainly factors into his early success.
"I came into pro ball with a mindset to be aggressive out of the gate and to develop along the way," he said. "I have a competitive side and feel I have to prove myself at times, but this is not a race, it's a marathon."
Despite the inevitable ups and downs that come with rookie ball, Jackson is enjoying the ride so far.
"The pro experience so far has been really fun, and humbling," he said. "There are days where you struggle, but you have to dig deep and find your confidence, and just be grateful to even play pro ball."
It could be several years before he reaches the major leagues, but the process of turning into a true pro has already begun for Bralin Jackson. If all goes according to plan, he'll be an everyday, complete player patrolling the outfield for the Rays some day in the future, with hopes of helping them to a World Series title.
"The type of player I want to be for the Rays down the road is a player who gives his everything on the field," he said, "who executes, respects the game, is an all-around professional."
Brad Lymburner is the GCL Rays beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @_BradL.
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