Scouting Yankees Prospect #17: Austin Jackson

Considered a first round talent, the Yankees drafted Austin Jackson in the 8th round of the 2005 MLB Draft out of Ryan High School in Denton, Texas. He started off the 2006 season with a bang but fizzled down the stretch in his first taste of long-season league baseball. One of the top athletes in the farm system, here's a scouting report on Austin Jackson.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Austin Jackson
Position: Outfielder
DOB: February 1, 1987
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"I'd say so-so," Jackson said of his performance in 2006. "They told me I did pretty good for my first full season. I think I could have done a little better. I wasn't really prepared for a full season but now I know how it's going to be. I've been working out so I think I'll be more prepared for this upcoming season."

He hit just .260 with four home runs in a team-high 535 at-bats with the Charleston Riverdogs last season. But after hitting .321 in the first month of the season, he hit just .248 the rest of the way as the season wore on.

"That was pretty much the whole thing," he said if he wasn't physically ready for the long season. "Actually that's one thing. On the mental side, I don't think I was as focused a lot of the times. Like I said though, now I know what to expect out of a full season. I don't think I've ever had that many at-bats at one time. I think I'll be a lot more focused and a lot more prepared this year."

While it was quite apparent in his overall numbers that the demands of a long season got to him, nowhere was it more evident than in his team-high 151 strikeouts.

"I think it did a little bit," he said if wearing down affected his strikeout numbers, "but I don't think it was as much of a factor as the mental side. The mental part, I'd get myself out a lot of times before I'd even go up to at-bat. You can't do that. I think a little bit of it was me being tired but me not being mentally strong caused a lot of those strikeouts."

Another reason for his waning offensive production and accumulating high strikeout totals was due to the fact he had a drift in his swing that caused him to get fooled on offspeed pitches, a flaw that Jackson worked extremely hard on correcting towards the tail-end of the season and into the Instructional League.

"I wouldn't say I fully stopped doing it," he said of drifting in his swing, "I think I minimized it a little bit. As I've been working out this offseason, working out with a hitting instructor, I think I pretty much got it down. Every once in a while I'll drift a little bit to try and stay inside on the ball."

"That's one thing I learned, I drift to stay inside," he continued. "We've been working on me using my hands more so that's taken away that drift a little bit. I feel real comfortable at the plate right now. I don't feel like I'm getting fooled on my pitches."

After hitting .304 in his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2005, and after being among the South Atlantic League leaders in batting after the first month of the season in 2006, Jackson has shown he has the ability to hit for average.

But after hitting just .248 in his final 421 at-bats with the Riverdogs last season, Jackson's critics have come to the forefront doubting his ability to be a .300 hitter.

"I definitely think I can be a .300 hitter," Jackson told us emphatically. "There's no doubt in my mind. Just talking with the hitting instructors and the big league players that I worked out with this offseason, they've all been saying there's no reason why you should have as many strikeouts as you did, that I should be hitting for a better average, and hitting for more power."

"I was getting away from the basic things. I started drifting, and when you start doing that, it takes away a lot of your power right there. I got fooled on a lot of pitches I don't normally swing at. I would get in a bad count early."

Considering 2006 was the first year in his life where he solely focused his attention on playing baseball, the former high school basketball standout chalks up his first taste of long-season league baseball to a learning experience.

"I can't go back and change anything about last season," said the 19-year old. "I know what to look forward to. I know what I need to change my body and what I have to do to prepare mentally for it. I think I'm going to do a lot better this year."

"Of course I'd like to have not as many strikeouts, "he listed as his goals for 2007. "I'd like to show people I've got a lot more power than they think I've got. I know a lot of people say I don't have pop or whatever, but I'd like to show them I've got a little more pop."

"I'd like to steal a few more bases and I'd like to hit for a better average. I think with a lot of the things I've been working on, the strikeouts will go down. I think I'll make a lot more contact."

He has been preparing for his second full season by working out hard and getting physically stronger so he can better equipped to handle the demands of a 142-game schedule.

"I've put on some weight," he said of this offseason. "I've put on seven or eight pounds this offseason. I was at 195 [pounds] and now I'm 202 or 203. I've put on some pounds and I've gotten a lot stronger. I think that's one thing that should help me a little bit. My body won't break down as much. If I continue to work out during the season, I think my body will hold up a lot more."

Not exactly thrilled with his overall production in 2006, he says his critics have not seen the real Austin Jackson yet.

"I think this year you'll see a big difference from last year," said Jackson. "What I was doing at the beginning [of 2006], I got away from that. It just wasn't me at all. I was doing something I never did before. I think with me just working out with the hitting instructors, I'll be more confident and I think a lot more people will be impressed with me this year."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2006 Charleston .260 535 24 4 47 90 37 61 151 .340 .346
2005 Gulf Coast .304 148 11 0 14 32 11 18 26 .374 .405


Batting and Power. His decreasing offensive production as the season progressed and his high number of strikeouts disguised the fact that he actually made progress in becoming more selective at the plate last year. His strikeout totals would also suggest he's a hacker, but he truly isn't. He employs a somewhat patient approach and possesses very good bat speed. Once he learns to use his hands more in his swing instead of cheating by drifting at the plate, he will begin to use the whole field more and his natural power should take over. If he can consistently repeat that approach, he has the innate ability to be a solid average hitter with good power.

Base Running and Speed. Jackson has stolen over 77 percent of his attempts in his career thus far, a scary sign for a base runner who still is quite raw in stealing bases. He gets by with his athleticism and natural speed, enough to be a 30+ stolen base threat each year. But once he learns to read pitchers' moves better, his base running game could improve dramatically.

Defense. Jackson's defensive game is solid right now. He has a strong arm for a centerfielder and while he has made improvements in his positioning, he could get better. But considering his plus range in the outfield, he has the ability to be a better defender than he has shown thus far. He has raw Gold Glove defensive ability but hasn't shown it on a consistent basis just yet.

Projection. Jackson's numbers in 2006 didn't really scratch the surface of his talent. And while that can be disappointing in one regard, it's also a good sign of his potential. He's more of a raw athlete learning to become a professional baseball player right now. Despite the fact Jackson has batted either first or second in the lineup in all but eight of his professional games thus far, he projects to hit further down in a big league lineup. He'll continue to bat leadoff at the minor league level to get as many at-bats as possible, and his plus speed certainly gives the Yankees the option of batting him atop the order, but his developing power and propensity to strikeout profile him better as a sixth or seventh hitter. He compares favorably to Torii Hunter of the Twins style-wise if he can cut down on his strikeouts but that comparison could shift to Mike Cameron if he can't.

ETA. 2010. Jackson did more than enough in Charleston last year to open up the 2007 season with the Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League and he appears to be on the one level per year track towards the big leagues.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n \r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Austin Jackson
\r\nPosition: Outfielder
\r\nDOB: February 1, 1987
\r\nHeight: 6'1\"
\r\nWeight: 185
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\n\"I'd say so-so,\" Jackson said of his performance in 2006. \"They told me I did pretty good for my first full season. I think I could have done a little better. I wasn't really prepared for a full season but now I know how it's going to be. I've been working out so I think I'll be more prepared for this upcoming season.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe hit just .260 with four home runs in a team-high 535 at-bats with the Charleston Riverdogs last season. But after hitting .321 in the first month of the season, he hit just .248 the rest of the way as the season wore on.
\r\n
\r\n\"That was pretty much the whole thing,\" he said if he wasn't physically ready for the long season. \"Actually that's one thing. On the mental side, I don't think I was as focused a lot of the times. Like I said though, now I know what to expect out of a full season. I don't think I've ever had that many at-bats at one time. I think I'll be a lot more focused and a lot more prepared this year.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile it was quite apparent in his overall numbers that the demands of a long season got to him, nowhere was it more evident than in his team-high 151 strikeouts.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think it did a little bit,\" he said if wearing down affected his strikeout numbers, \"but I don't think it was as much of a factor as the mental side. The mental part, I'd get myself out a lot of times before I'd even go up to at-bat. You can't do that. I think a little bit of it was me being tired but me not being mentally strong caused a lot of those strikeouts.\"
\r\n
\r\nAnother reason for his waning offensive production and accumulating high strikeout totals was due to the fact he had a drift in his swing that caused him to get fooled on offspeed pitches, a flaw that Jackson worked extremely hard on correcting towards the tail-end of the season and into the Instructional League.
\r\n
\r\n\"I wouldn't say I fully stopped doing it,\" he said of drifting in his swing, \"I think I minimized it a little bit. As I've been working out this offseason, working out with a hitting instructor, I think I pretty much got it down. Every once in a while I'll drift a little bit to try and stay inside on the ball.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"That's one thing I learned, I drift to stay inside,\" he continued. \"We've been working on me using my hands more so that's taken away that drift a little bit. I feel real comfortable at the plate right now. I don't feel like I'm getting fooled on my pitches.\"
\r\n
\r\nAfter hitting .304 in his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2005, and after being among the South Atlantic League leaders in batting after the first month of the season in 2006, Jackson has shown he has the ability to hit for average.
\r\n
\r\nBut after hitting just .248 in his final 421 at-bats with the Riverdogs last season, Jackson's critics have come to the forefront doubting his ability to be a .300 hitter.
\r\n
\r\n\"I definitely think I can be a .300 hitter,\" Jackson told us emphatically. \"There's no doubt in my mind. Just talking with the hitting instructors and the big league players that I worked out with this offseason, they've all been saying there's no reason why you should have as many strikeouts as you did, that I should be hitting for a better average, and hitting for more power.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I was getting away from the basic things. I started drifting, and when you start doing that, it takes away a lot of your power right there. I got fooled on a lot of pitches I don't normally swing at. I would get in a bad count early.\"
\r\n
\r\nConsidering 2006 was the first year in his life where he solely focused his attention on playing baseball, the former high school basketball standout chalks up his first taste of long-season league baseball to a learning experience.
\r\n
\r\n\"I can't go back and change anything about last season,\" said the 19-year old. \"I know what to look forward to. I know what I need to change my body and what I have to do to prepare mentally for it. I think I'm going to do a lot better this year.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Of course I'd like to have not as many strikeouts, \"he listed as his goals for 2007. \"I'd like to show people I've got a lot more power than they think I've got. I know a lot of people say I don't have pop or whatever, but I'd like to show them I've got a little more pop.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I'd like to steal a few more bases and I'd like to hit for a better average. I think with a lot of the things I've been working on, the strikeouts will go down. I think I'll make a lot more contact.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe has been preparing for his second full season by working out hard and getting physically stronger so he can better equipped to handle the demands of a 142-game schedule.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've put on some weight,\" he said of this offseason. \"I've put on seven or eight pounds this offseason. I was at 195 [pounds] and now I'm 202 or 203. I've put on some pounds and I've gotten a lot stronger. I think that's one thing that should help me a little bit. My body won't break down as much. If I continue to work out during the season, I think my body will hold up a lot more.\"
\r\n
\r\nNot exactly thrilled with his overall production in 2006, he says his critics have not seen the real Austin Jackson yet.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think this year you'll see a big difference from last year,\" said Jackson. \"What I was doing at the beginning [of 2006], I got away from that. It just wasn't me at all. I was doing something I never did before. I think with me just working out with the hitting instructors, I'll be more confident and I think a lot more people will be impressed with me this year.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

Year

\r\n

Team

\r\n

AVG

\r\n

AB

\r\n

2B

\r\n

HR

\r\n

RBI

\r\n

R

\r\n

SB

\r\n

BB

\r\n

SO

\r\n

OBP

\r\n

SLG

\r\n 2006\r\n Charleston\r\n .260\r\n 535\r\n 24\r\n 4\r\n 47\r\n 90\r\n 37\r\n 61\r\n 151\r\n .340\r\n .346
\r\n 2005\r\n Gulf Coast\r\n .304\r\n 148\r\n 11\r\n 0\r\n 14\r\n 32\r\n 11\r\n 18\r\n 26\r\n .374\r\n .405

\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power. His decreasing offensive production as the season progressed and his high number of strikeouts disguised the fact that he actually made progress in becoming more selective at the plate last year. His strikeout totals would also suggest he's a hacker, but he truly isn't. He employs a somewhat patient approach and possesses very good bat speed. Once he learns to use his hands more in his swing instead of cheating by drifting at the plate, he will begin to use the whole field more and his natural power should take over. If he can consistently repeat that approach, he has the innate ability to be a solid average hitter with good power.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed. Jackson has stolen over 77 percent of his attempts in his career thus far, a scary sign for a base runner who still is quite raw in stealing bases. He gets by with his athleticism and natural speed, enough to be a 30+ stolen base threat each year. But once he learns to read pitchers' moves better, his base running game could improve dramatically.
\r\n
\r\nDefense. Jackson's defensive game is solid right now. He has a strong arm for a centerfielder and while he has made improvements in his positioning, he could get better. But considering his plus range in the outfield, he has the ability to be a better defender than he has shown thus far. He has raw Gold Glove defensive ability but hasn't shown it on a consistent basis just yet.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Jackson's numbers in 2006 didn't really scratch the surface of his talent. And while that can be disappointing in one regard, it's also a good sign of his potential. He's more of a raw athlete learning to become a professional baseball player right now. Despite the fact Jackson has batted either first or second in the lineup in all but eight of his professional games thus far, he projects to hit further down in a big league lineup. He'll continue to bat leadoff at the minor league level to get as many at-bats as possible, and his plus speed certainly gives the Yankees the option of batting him atop the order, but his developing power and propensity to strikeout profile him better as a sixth or seventh hitter. He compares favorably to Torii Hunter of the Twins style-wise if he can cut down on his strikeouts but that comparison could shift to Mike Cameron if he can't.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2010. Jackson did more than enough in Charleston last year to open up the 2007 season with the Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League and he appears to be on the one level per year track towards the big leagues.
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