Player: Alex Jackson
DOB: 12/25/1995 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 215 lbs
School: Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) High School
College Commitment: Oregon
Catcher Alex Jackson put himself on the 2014 draft radar back in 2011 as a freshman at baseball powerhouse Rancho Bernardo High School, when the then-15-year-old batting .376 with five home runs. The young slugger continued to improve his stock as a sophomore the following year, as he batted .400 with 17 home runs during the spring and then starred in all facets of the game on the showcase circuit over the summer.
However, Jackson’s overwhelming success didn’t carry over into his junior season at Rancho Bernardo; he still batted .343 with 14 home runs, but the right-handed hitter struck out 22 times and failed to barrel the ball with the consistency he showed in previous years.
Jackson, an Oregon commit, entered his senior season as likely top-10 pick, even after a good-but-not-great showing last summer on the showcase circuit, and has done everything in his power to be the first hitter off the board on June 5. In 31 games this spring, Jackson batted .382/.455/.680 with 11 home runs and only eight strikeouts compared to 25 walks.
The only question regarding Jackson’s future is whether or not he’ll stay behind the plate at the next level, whatever that may be—college or major leagues. While a move to a corner-outfield spot could ultimately accelerate his arrival in the major leagues, Jackson’s potential plus hit/power potential would offer tremendous upside behind the plate, and could make him an All-Star-caliber player.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Physically strong right-handed hitter with plus bat speed; employs upright stance and loads hands just below shoulder level; keeps upper body quiet throughout swing; has a tendency to wrap his bat but still consistently gets the barrel to the ball; swing can get long and prevent him from crushing hittable pitches; decent feel for using entire field.
Smooth weight transfer and plus bat speed fuel projection for plus power, especially to his pull side; combination of bat path and extension post-contact generates good backspin carry; should develop average power to the opposite field.
Impressive athlete; possesses average speed that plays on all sides of the ball.
Plus arm strength produces mid- to upper-80s velocity from behind the plate; would also be a clean fit in right field at the highest level.
Possesses athleticism and arm strength for either catcher or right field as a professional; behind the plate, Jackson consistently posts pop times of 1.8 to 1.9 seconds thanks to quick release and strong arm; blocking and receiving skills are fringy and will require time to develop in the minors; a move to right field could potentially elongate his career by preventing wear-and-tear injuries; could result in accelerated rise to the major leagues.
MLB Player Comparison: Catcher: Buster Posey/Outfielder: Allen Craig
Regardless of his future defensive home, Jackson will also be viewed as a bat-first player. Therefore, while the Posey comparison is based mostly on his hit/power projection, and not his abilities behind the plate, comparing Jackson to Allen Craig for his middle-of-the-order potential and serviceable defense in right field is more realistic.
Projection: Potential All-Star
Major Leagues ETA: 2017
Chances of Signing: 75 percent
Jackson has been billed as the best prep hitter—and arguably the best hitter in the entire draft class—for going on two years, and he’s expected to receive enough money as an early first-round pick to forgo his commitment to Oregon. However, signing Jackson, who is being advised by Scott Boras, could pose as a challenge should he begin to slide down the board early in the first round.