Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): Jackson has an abundance of average to above-average tools and he should be a good everyday player for a long time.
The Player: Brett Jackson (OF, Chicago Cubs) – Jackson was a late first round pick (31st overall) by the Cubs in 2009. He played his college ball at California and stepped right in to rake across three levels that summer. He did the same across two more levels in 2010 and continued that trend with a strong showing at both Double-A and Triple-A in 2011. For the year Jackson posted a .274/.379/.490 line in 115 games with 20 home runs and 21 steals.
Body: Built very well with a strong body all the way around. Fills out his frame and uniform well (6-2, 210). Looks the part.
Makeup: Handles highs and lows well, remains calm throughout the game. Tireless worker that is routinely taking extra swings in the cage and shagging flies in the OF. Plus makeup overall.
Hit: Balanced stance, maintains balance through swing, moderate leg kick as part of trigger, has some noise in hands during setup but gets the bat to the zone quickly and routinely with only occasional bouts with length. Shows plus bat speed but lacks ability to adjust to pitches. Pitch recognition lags and is susceptible to getting way out in front of slower breaking balls and change-ups. Shows improved approach and willingness to work deep into counts. Grade – 30/40
Power: Plus bat speed and natural strength allow him to drive ball to all fields. Has added loft to swing and can get the ball over the fence with ease. At his best when he trusts swing/strength to drive the ball deep rather than muscling up for it. Grade (raw power) – 50/60
Arm: Can make all throws from all three spots, gets rid of the ball quickly and generates plenty of carry on his throws. Accuracy has improved greatly. Grade – 50/50
Fielding: Good jumps and routes, reads ball very well off the bat at all three outfield positions. Defense is better in the corners but can handle center field easily for now. Tracks better to his left than right. Grade (center field) – 50/50
Speed: Good runner once underway, can be a little slow out of the box at times. Speed plays well in the outfield. Picks spots to run well but must improve jumps from first base. Has flashed 3.98-4.05 times to first base. Grade – 60/60
Summation: Very capable in all facets of the game. Can handle center field in the short term (and possibly longer) with enough hitting ability for power and approach to play against MLB pitchers. Profiles as an everyday guy that hits in the middle of the lineup with 20+ home runs, 60+ walks, a fair average and good defense.
Relative Risk: Low. Jackson’s game requires only minor tweaks before he is ready for the big leagues. His makeup should allow him to shrug off any early struggles he encounters as he adjusts and his broad skill set should allow him to be a big league regular without trouble.
Future: Jackson will have a slim chance of breaking camp with the Cubs in the spring. The more likely scenario has him returning to Triple-A Iowa to finish polishing his skill and prepare for an extended big league trial in the second half of the season. It is doubtful Jackson ever develops into a star but he should be a consistent player that Cubs fans can count on as the new regime re-shapes the franchise.