Thunder Thoughts month long look at the New York Yankees top 30 prospects, as rated by Baseball America, wraps up with a look at Austin Jackson, who spent all of last season in Double-A Trenton.
#1 Austin Jackson
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 185 lbs.
Age At Start of 2009 Season: 22
Career statistics: 433 GP, 26 HR, 189 RBI, 100 SB, 183 BB, 399 K
Highest Level Reached: AAA
Jackson has been under the watchful eye of Yankees fans ever since he was picked in the eighth round in 2005 after spurning a scholarship to play basketball at Georgia Tech. Rated as both the best athlete and defensive center fielder in the Yankees system by Baseball America, Jackson does many things well, but does not necessarily have a standout tool. Likely ready for the big leagues right now, many would like to see Jackson develop a little more power before he debuts in Yankee Stadium, a debut that’s very, very possible to occur by the All-Star break this year.
Thunder ETA: Played for the Thunder in 2007 and 2008, unlikely to return in 2009
It was a pleasure getting to watch Austin Jackson play for a full season in 2008. It was also a pleasure getting to know him as well, and getting an insider’s perspective on what made him such a highly regarded prospect. Jackson is an easy going kid with a strong work ethic who is liked by his teammates and is rarely seen without a smile on his face. On the field, Jackson would occasionally go through stretches of inconsistent play, but still put together his best full season numbers, hitting .285 with nine home runs and 69 RBI. But just like in 2007, when he joined the team late in the year, it was the postseason where the blue-chipper shined. He seemed to make dazzling defensive play after dazzling defensive play, and set the tone for the Portland series by taking no less than Clay Buchholz deep in a crucial game. Jackson is set to start 2009 in Scranton, and barring a colossal series of struggles, is highly unlikely to ever set foot in Double-A again.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com