Edwin Jackson Finally Living Up to the Hype

Jesse Reynoso@JesRey7Contributor IJune 11, 2009

SEATTLE - APRIL 18:  Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson #36 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners on April 18, 2009 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Jackson has been an inconsistent pitcher ever since he was brought up to the Major Leagues in 2003 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Six years and two teams later, Jackson is becoming the pitcher most proclaimed him to be when he was drafted out of high school.

In 2001, the Dodgers took Jackson in the sixth round out of Shaw High School in Georgia. Originally drafted as an outfielder, Jackson was converted into a pitcher right away.

In his first Minor League season, Jackson went 2-1 with an ERA of 2.45 and started as the designated hitter in eight games. In addition to lighting up hitters from the mound, he was a force at the plate, hitting .308 with a home run.

Jackson was named the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Year in 2002. He was considered the Dodgers' best prospect in 2004 and was ranked fourth in the entire league, though he dropped to the third best prospect for the Dodgers the following year.

Jackson made his Major League debut on his 20th birthday against the Arizona Diamondbacks and earned his first career victory.

Though he posted a respectable 6-4 record during his three years in Dodger blue, it was his ERA, which ranged from 2.45 to 7.30, and his poor control that led to his trade to Tampa Bay.

In January of 2006, the Dodgers announced they would be sending Jackson, along with Chuck Tiffany, to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in exchange for Danys Baez and Lance Carter.

In his first full year with the Devil Rays, Jackson appeared 23 times as a middle reliever. His ERA was over five in only 36 innings.

The following year, the Rays decided to give Jackson a crack at the rotation, though it wasn't the start that anyone was hoping for.

Jackson started the season 1-9 and his starting job was in jeopardy. But after finally finding the strike zone, he was able to string together consecutive victories, and on Aug. 11 he pitched his first career complete game shutout against the Texas Rangers.

His career took a turn for the better in 2008. No doubt feeling more comfortable in the Majors after finally having a full season under his belt, Jackson was ready to perform the way scouts expected him to when he was drafted.

Last season, Jackson led the American League Champion Rays with 14 wins, a mark that tied the record for most wins in a season in franchise history. After the All-Star break, Jackson recorded nine wins, good for second most by any pitcher in that time span.

Two months after losing the World Series, the Rays decided to sell high and ship Jackson to the Detroit Tigers for young outfield prospect Matt Joyce. The trade received mixed reviews and fans in Detroit were angry to see Joyce go to another team.

But it didn't take long for Jackson to became a fan favorite in Detroit.

In his first start for the Tigers, he pitched into the eighth inning, giving up only one run and receiving a no-decision. His second start was even better, going 7.67 scoreless innings against the Seattle Mariners and earning his first win as a Tiger.

Jackson is now second in the American League in ERA at 2.16 and is proving all of his doubters wrong.

This year has certainly been an All Star caliber season for Jackson, and with Justin Verlander in the same rotation, Detroit easily has the best one-two punch in the Majors.

The Tigers have a very special player and it would be smart to give him a long-term deal. Jackson’s 2009 season will be one to remember for the city of Detroit.