Rancho Cucamonga, California —— At the top of this post, watch one of our 2017 scouting videos of Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop prospect Drew Jackson, taken from a set of his at-bats for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on April 24, 2017 in the California League (High-A) against the visiting San Jose Giants.
To visit Drew Jackson’s player page, please click here. And please subscribe to the Baseball Census YouTube channel here for hundreds more videos like this one.
Drew Jackson scouting report notes
When Drew Jackson spent 2016 with the now-defunct Bakersfield Blaze in the Seattle Mariners‘ organization, he struggled to find a rhythm at the plate and ended up with an underwhelming .258/.332/.345/.678 slash line over 124 games there. Fast forward to March, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Chase De Jong deal, and the Stanford University product is starting to completely shed his “Stanford swing” and take an entirely new approach at the plate that should benefit his career immensely.
First, let’s get the defensive side out of the way: Jackson is a plus defender across every aspect of the shortstop position. His footwork is great, his range phenomenal, his hands soft and his arm strong and accurate, and it’s just short of a certainty that he’ll stay at the position throughout the majority of his career—no small feat. Knowing how many guys are moved off shortstop between where Jackson is now, in High-A, and where he wants to ultimately be, it’s notable that he should remain a plus defender at short for the rest of his career. He was the best defensive infielder in the California League in 2016 by a mile, and he brings those same skills to the Dodgers’ organization this year.
Now, back to the meat of this report: Jackson’s rapidly evolving offensive outlook. The stats early on in Rancho Cucamonga show some of what’s going on: over his first 33 games, Jackson is struggling to hit for average but his power numbers are through the roof, with a .254/.389/.441/.830 slash line and five home runs already in 118 at-bats. He’s doing it through a new approach at the plate that has him better-prepared to hit line drives and drive the ball in the air.
Here’s Drew Jackson, 2016 version, hitting a line drive single in Bakersfield:
And here’s the 2017 version of Drew Jackson on a home run swing in Rancho Cucamonga:
The Dodgers have Jackson more squared up to the pitcher from the start. Last summer, in an open stance, he struggled to stride straight on to the pitcher, often staying open with his front foot upon swinging, which then forced him to either lunge out over the outside corner and flip the bat out for weak contact, or left him unable to cover a large portion of the plate.
Last year, Jackson took a fair amount of swings like this, lunging out and losing his leverage while releasing early with his top hand after the point of contact:
Suddenly, it’s no secret his OPS was so pedestrian.
This year, Jackson is already taking a lot of swings like this, driving through the ball with both hands on the bat and finishing high with authority (and balance!), as opposed to flailing out to reach the ball and then finishing off-kilter:
More than orienting himself far better towards the pitcher and the plate, though, Jackson’s new swing plane is far more conducive to hitting gap-to-gap line drives compared to the Stanford swing he left college with that gave him sustained trouble in Bakersfield a year ago.
Here’s a swing Jackson never would’ve taken last summer:
Talk about finishing high; Drew Jackson is swinging for the fences here. That swing in and of itself isn’t the only end-result of his changes at the plate, but it’s a good, late April visual example of an explicit focus on hitting the ball in the air (line drives) to take advantage of some gap-to-gap power and develop a much-needed offensive asset in his game. He has enough raw strength to project moderate power, especially of the gap-to-gap variety, and a more level plane with a high finish this year actually gives him the opportunity to do that.
Drew Jackson’s defense is good enough to stick at shortstop regardless, but these changes in his offensive approach might make him a very interesting sleeper prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ loaded system. Sure, the youth movement is right now focused on guys who have graduated (Corey Seager), are graduating (Cody Bellinger), and will soon graduate (Alex Verdugo, Willie Calhoun, etc.), and Jackson is a newcomer to the organization and a bit removed from that list in the minds of most fans. But there’s immediate growth after adjustments here in the Cal League relative to last summer, and that should bode well for his future.
To visit Drew Jackson’s player page, please click here.
Drew Jackson scouting report: 140 characters or less
An exceptional defender at shortstop, wholesale changes at the plate should only increase Drew Jackson’s value with his new organization.
Drew Jackson scouting report video
Here’s a look at our most recent Drew Jackson baseball video, taken during a late April game for the Quakes against San Jose in the Cal League:
Here’s Jackson’s home run swing, pulled out from that April 24 game and slowed down to get a look at his mechanical changes compared to 2016:
And here’s some Drew Jackson baseball video from his 2016 season spent with the Bakersfield Blaze, before he was traded to the Dodgers and made massive swing changes entering 2017:
For more Drew Jackson baseball video, and video of hundreds more baseball prospects, subscribe to our YouTube channel here.
Drew Jackson scouting report GIFs
In addition to our video clips, we broke out some Drew Jackson baseball GIFs for a deeper look at his swing mechanics new and old, etc.:
For more Drew Jackson baseball GIFs, you can follow our GIPHY account here.
In this Los Angeles Dodgers / Drew Jackson scouting report: