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Jeremy Nygaard

Twins Draft Preview: Alex Jackson

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As fans have endured three straight 90-plus loss seasons, it’s been obvious that one of – and probably the biggest – roots of the problem is the lack of quality starters. Essentially, the Twins have employed a collection of #4 starters and have failed to draft or sign frontline starters. We saw the late 2012 trades to acquire Alex Meyer and Trevor May followed by the drafting of Texas prep hurler Kohl Stewart as signs that the Twins recognized this issue and have started to correct it.
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Yet in the back of every fan’s mind is the idea that the Twins can never have enough “toolsy” players in their system. (They might be right.) And that the Twins love to draft those players right out of high school. (Because they do!)

So when the clock starts ticking on the Twins, which direction do they go? Well, that’s not for us to decide. But if they choose to go the way of the “tools”, you better know about this guy.

Who is this guy?

Alex Jackson has been on the prospect map since 2010, when he started at Rancho Bernardo (Escondido, CA) HS as a freshman. That’s no small feat at a school that has produced Cole Hamels and Hank Blalock, among others. He smashed 17 home runs as a sophomore and was the most impressive player at the 2012 Area Code Games… as an underclassman. His star started rising when he was only 15 years old and it continues to go up.

Jackson, who has played catcher through high school, has two plus tools: Power and arm strength.

Though there are college guys with more present-day power, no one offers more raw power than the 6’ 2”, 215-lb Jackson.

His arm strength is equally as impressive as he was clocked at 91 mph from behind home plate at the 2013 Perfect Game National Showcase, setting a Perfect Game record.

Why the Twins will pick him

The Twins would pick Jackson – just like they’d pick anyone – because he’s the top guy on their board when they come to the podium. But why he’d be the top guy on their board is much more important. His right-handed power would play perfectly at Target Field. His ability to likely be able to stick behind home plate long-term in a system that lacks a single top-flight catching prospect would be an added benefit.

In a draft that lacks a lot of hitting quality, Jackson is the cock of the walk.

None of this even mentions his character. Last summer, Jackson was one of three high schoolers who helped raise over $10,000 for a local children’s hospital.

Why the Twins will not pick him

As the introduction stated, the Twins “organizational need” is pitchers. And the next paragraph alluded to the need in the organization for catchers. Truth is, Jackson isn’t a pitcher and there’s a pretty good chance he’s not going to be a catcher either.

With a bat that is considered the highest-ceiling in the draft, there is a very good chance that the first thing Jackson does after signing his first professional contract is hang up the catchers’ gear. Jackson has the ideal power/arm strength combination to make a smooth move to right field, where his bat could reach The Show earlier. There’s also belief that if he’s athletic enough to catch professionally – and he is, with work – there is little doubt that he wouldn’t be athletic enough to play third base. In any scenario, the value is in the bat.

The Oregon-commit is being advised by Scott Boras. That’s not to say the Twins should avoid drafting him solely because of this reason; however, Boras does a great job getting his clients as much money as possible… and the #5 spot in the draft is not getting him as much money as possible. (Long explanation longer: Expect Jackson to be off the board when the Twins select.)

It should be noted that Scott Boras pushed for the Nationals to select Bryce Harper to outfield, and though that wouldn’t be a fair comparison, Jackson could simply be next in the line to make the same change, much like Wil Myers did more recently.

And the end of the day, there’s not many reasons to argue against the Twins selecting Alex Jackson, besides the fact that he’s viewed by many to be too talented to be on the board when the Twins pick.

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Follow me on Twitter at @jeremynygaard for much more draft coverage this week.

Special thanks to Justin Rinaldi for his picture of Alex Jackson featured in this article.

Comments

  1. blairpaul715's Avatar
    If we had the first pick, this would be my guy.......so of course, i would hope he drops to us.........I know Kolek has tremendous potential, but i don't want him, to much of an injury waiting to happen, plus he is not considered athletic, and I don't think he will be able to find his command.(all this on not seeing him, just reading reports and what others have said, just doesn't feel right to me)

    My Top 4 for me.....1 Jackson 2 Rodon 3 Aiken 4 Gordon.
    Updated 06-02-2014 at 10:35 PM by blairpaul715
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