Moment #11 – The Emergence of Austin Jackson
2007 Eastern League Playoffs
Ever since Austin Jackson was picked by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2005 draft, people had been waiting for that breakout year that showed he could turn potential into progress. In his third professional season, Jackson finally provided that year.
For many who follow the farm system closely, Jackson’s emergence was a significant one. As time went on, people became more and more frustrated with the results of the 2005 draft class, as C.J. Henry never really got going and J.B. Cox went down with an elbow injury. It’s still early, but none of the Yankees picks from that year have played in the big leagues yet.
But it looks like Jackson may have one of the best shots at being among the first.
While fellow ’05 pick Alan Horne had his coming out party in Trenton last season, Jackson didn’t arrive until the playoffs. Nobody knew what to expect from the 20-year-old Texas native, but even on his fourth team of the season, Jackson showed everyone why he was making steady progress through the Yankees system.
The numbers don’t tell the tale, not even close: .200, 0 HR, 4 RBI in nine games.
But his clutch single in the seventh inning of Game One of the Championship Series drove in the winning run, and he made several key throws to nail runners at the plate throughout the playoffs.
“They’ve moved me around a little bit, but it’s been fun so far. It’s still the same game I’ve been playing for a long time,” said an exhausted Jackson after the game.
Jackson had played for Single-A Charleston, Single-A Tampa and Triple-A Scranton prior to joining the Thunder. But it’s the 2008 version of the Double-A Trenton outfield that’s got everyone talking.
Unless there’s some major shuffling in Tampa or Scranton, Jackson will be joined by Jose Tabata and Colin Curtis in Trenton this season, a group which many are calling the most talented outfield in Thunder history.
After a strong showing in Hawaii Winter Baseball, Jackson has all the momentum to lead him to a strong showing in 2008. But he also has more eyes watching him than ever before, now a legitimate prospect instead of just a project.
With little to gain this year, it may be Jackson who has the most to lose in 2008.
Recapping the Top 20 so far…
#11 – The emergence of Austin Jackson
#12 – Tony Franklin named Thunder manager
#13 – Matt DeSalvo’s MLB debut
#14 – Phil Hughes rehab appearance
#15 – Tyler Clippard’s MLB debut
#16 – Brett Smith’s no-hitter
#17 – Chase Wright’s MLB debut
#18 – Chase Wright’s opening night start
#19 – Paul Lo Duca and Endy Chavez rehab in Trenton
#20 – Jeff Karstens rehab appearance
Only the Top 10 moments from the 2007 Thunder season remain in the countdown. Moment #10 is set to be unveiled this week, so check back to re-live some of your favorite memories from the year.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com