Consistency The Final Step For Jackson

Austin Jackson spent his first four professional seasons turning himself from a raw athlete into a more polished baseball player. Now at the Triple-A level and on the brink of becoming big league ready, the only thing standing in his way is proving his consistency.

[Interviews conducted by Chuck Hixson]

"Spring went well," said Austin Jackson, who hit .333 in 23 games in big league camp. "I learned a lot of new things and I just learned some things that I can bring into the season."

Two of the biggest lessons he has learned over the years has been staying back in his swing and not abandoning his approach at the plate when things aren't going well, and he knows he'll need to do both consistently at the Triple-A level this season.

"I'd say the pitching and sticking with my plan when I start struggling," he listed as his biggest challenges in 2009. "It's a long season so you're going to struggle. I think the pitching is the main thing though. As you move up they kind of find your weaknesses out."

Jackson, who went 1-4 with an RBI in his season debut with the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees on Thursday, has come a long way to get where he is today.

"This is really the first year I've had a chance to see A.J. play," said Scranton hitting coach Butch Wynegar. "I've talked to a lot of folks about him and I like where he's at right now.

"I thought he was a little jumpy tonight with it being Opening Night. He was probably a little bit antsy up there tonight. I've seen him make good adjustments though from what I've heard of him in the past.

"He used to have a big leg-kick and now he's away from the leg-kick. Now he's trying to get into a good hitting position consistently and he's got such good hands that – me personally, I've talked to him a lot about his hand path – he's got a bright future. I'm excited about seeing him play the rest of the year."

He made big strides in the consistency department last season at the Double-A level, hitting a solid .285 with 33 doubles for the Trenton Thunder. And while he had some success in big league camp this Spring, he's not exactly ready for prime time just yet.

"It's hard to say," Wynegar opined. "I'd like to see him stay here for most of the year. I think he needs it. He's still a young pup and I'd hate to see him rushed too quick.

"The way we get these guys to the big leagues and keep them there is by being consistent, and being able to repeat their swing night in and night out. That's why the good ones stay there.

"Right now he's not quite to that point. He'll get there but he'll lose it quick. He needs that consistency. Maybe by the All Star break he'll be fine, but right now he needs the seasoning and a good solid year here."

While Jackson would of course welcome a jump to the majors, he admits he knows he has a little more to prove before making that final leap in his development.

"I think I need to accomplish some more things and get some more at-bats before I'm ready to make that step," Jackson admitted. "We've been working in the cages on a lot of things and just being consistent with that. Just at the plate, I want to be more consistent."

Consistency is the name of the game and it's what separates the minor leaguers from the big leaguers, and Wynegar is pleased to hear that Jackson knows it all too well.

"There's no doubt," Wynegar said. "We saw it in Spring Training, when he got to a good hitting position and he allowed his hands to work for him to get to the ball, this kid was dynamite.

"Then all of the sudden he'll let his body seep into his swing and he'll get down on his front side a little bit, and there's no rhyme or reason for it. It just happens. Maybe he gets a little bit giddy and trying to do a little bit more.

"But he's right, if we can get him to that consistent hitting position and staying within himself, he'll be fine."

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\r\n \r\n\r\n[Interviews conducted by Chuck Hixson]
\r\n
\r\n\"Spring went well,\" said Austin Jackson, who hit .333 in 23 games in big league camp. \"I learned a lot of new things and I just learned some things that I can bring into the season.\"
\r\n
\r\nTwo of the biggest lessons he has learned over the years has been staying back in his swing and not abandoning his approach at the plate when things aren't going well, and he knows he'll need to do both consistently at the Triple-A level this season.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'd say the pitching and sticking with my plan when I start struggling,\" he listed as his biggest challenges in 2009. \"It's a long season so you're going to struggle. I think the pitching is the main thing though. As you move up they kind of find your weaknesses out.\"
\r\n
\r\nJackson, who went 1-4 with an RBI in his season debut with the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees on Thursday, has come a long way to get where he is today.
\r\n
\r\n\"This is really the first year I've had a chance to see A.J. play,\" said Scranton hitting coach Butch Wynegar. \"I've talked to a lot of folks about him and I like where he's at right now.
\r\n
\r\n\"I thought he was a little jumpy tonight with it being Opening Night. He was probably a little bit antsy up there tonight. I've seen him make good adjustments though from what I've heard of him in the past.
\r\n
\r\n\"He used to have a big leg-kick and now he's away from the leg-kick. Now he's trying to get into a good hitting position consistently and he's got such good hands that – me personally, I've talked to him a lot about his hand path – he's got a bright future. I'm excited about seeing him play the rest of the year.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe made big strides in the consistency department last season at the Double-A level, hitting a solid .285 with 33 doubles for the Trenton Thunder. And while he had some success in big league camp this Spring, he's not exactly ready for prime time just yet.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's hard to say,\" Wynegar opined. \"I'd like to see him stay here for most of the year. I think he needs it. He's still a young pup and I'd hate to see him rushed too quick.
\r\n
\r\n\"The way we get these guys to the big leagues and keep them there is by being consistent, and being able to repeat their swing night in and night out. That's why the good ones stay there.
\r\n
\r\n\"Right now he's not quite to that point. He'll get there but he'll lose it quick. He needs that consistency. Maybe by the All Star break he'll be fine, but right now he needs the seasoning and a good solid year here.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile Jackson would of course welcome a jump to the majors, he admits he knows he has a little more to prove before making that final leap in his development.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think I need to accomplish some more things and get some more at-bats before I'm ready to make that step,\" Jackson admitted. \"We've been working in the cages on a lot of things and just being consistent with that. Just at the plate, I want to be more consistent.\"
\r\n
\r\nConsistency is the name of the game and it's what separates the minor leaguers from the big leaguers, and Wynegar is pleased to hear that Jackson knows it all too well.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's no doubt,\" Wynegar said. \"We saw it in Spring Training, when he got to a good hitting position and he allowed his hands to work for him to get to the ball, this kid was dynamite.
\r\n
\r\n\"Then all of the sudden he'll let his body seep into his swing and he'll get down on his front side a little bit, and there's no rhyme or reason for it. It just happens. Maybe he gets a little bit giddy and trying to do a little bit more.
\r\n
\r\n\"But he's right, if we can get him to that consistent hitting position and staying within himself, he'll be fine.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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