School: University of Arkansas; Class: Junior
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-3; Weight: 195
Previously Drafted: N/A
Background: In the typical mold of your hard-throwing, bat-missing, Wild Thing look-a-like, Jackson continues to do two things exceptionally well: miss bats and struggle to find the strike zone. The well-built right-hander, who hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma, posted an impressive 42-to-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio with a 2.53 ERA in 42.2 innings as a true freshman. Jackson followed that up with another solid season in 2015: throwing a career-high 60.0 innings, he fanned a whopping 89, walked 38, and tallied a 2.10 ERA.
He also made five appearances for Team USA last summer, throwing 5.2 innings with eight punch outs and another half-dozen walks.
This season, though, his strikeout rate took a noticeable step back – it dropped from 13.35 K/9 to 11.21 K/9 – and his walk rate continues to climb well past red flag territory (he’s walked 40 in just 53.0 innings of work – or just under 7.0 BB/9).
Projection: Here’s the thing: Hard-throwing collegiate relievers with bloated strikeout and walk rates are certainly not uncommon, but Jackson’s basically been one-of-a-kind – and not in a good way. Between 2011 and 2015 there are zero pitchers of note to throw more than 50 innings and average at least 11 K/9 and 5.5 BB/9. Jackson, by the way, has now accomplished the “feat” twice.
Obviously, the ability to miss bats looks like a premium, possibly hinting at the potential to be a late-inning big league reliever. But at this point there’s absolutely no reason to suspect him being able to cut his walk rate down to a manageable total.
Still, though, the fastball and swing-and-miss ability will entice some team to draft him in the third or fourth round.
Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player
Floor: Replacement Level
Grade: Fourth Round