Jackson was considered to be the top pure hitter in the 2014 Draft class when the Mariners made him the No. 6 overall pick in that June’s Draft. A catcher in high school, he moved to the outfield with the hope that would allow his bat to carry him more quickly through the system. After two-plus seasons of disappointing production, he was traded to the Braves as part of the return for Max Povse and Rob Whalen. The Braves moved him back behind the plate and have watched him slowly develop into a power-hitting backstop with improved defensive skills, adding him to the 40-man roster after the 2018 season and bringing him up for his big league debut in 2019, though a knee sprain ended his season in early September.
Jackson’s carrying card offensively is his tremendous raw power and he got to it often, albeit in Triple-A, in 2019, with 28 homers and a .304 ISO. He makes extremely hard contact from the right side of the plate, though it comes with a whole lot of swing-and-miss (34.2 percent strikeout rate in 2019). Even with all the K’s, he has still has the chance to hit 20 homers annually if given enough at-bats at the big league level.
To his credit, Jackson has worked tirelessly at his defense. He’s always had a strong arm and he threw out 50 percent of potential basestealers last year. His overall defensive package is still fringy, but his pitch framing metrics have improved and he calls a nice game, giving him all he needs to be a power-hitting backup in Atlanta.
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 40
Back in 2014, Jackson was considered the best bat, high school or college, in the Draft class and went No. 6 overall to the Mariners, who immediately moved the prep catcher to the outfield so his bat could carry him. He had trouble gaining any traction, and following a 2016 season in the Midwest League, the Mariners sent him to the Braves in the trade for Max Povse and Rob Whalen. Atlanta moved Jackson back behind the plate, and while he hasn't hit consistently, he did make it to Triple-A in 2018 and was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason and made his big league debut in 2019.
Since joining the Braves, Jackson's power has shown up on occasion, hitting 19 homers in 2017, then five more in the Arizona Fall League that offseason. That didn't carry over to 2018, where his approach regressed and his strikeout rate jumped over 30 percent, keeping him from tapping into his plus raw pop. On the positive side, Jackson's work behind the plate has improved markedly. He's always had a strong arm but had struggled with receiving. His blocking remains a work in progress, and given his size, he's not very agile. He has gotten better at framing after watching a lot of video of fellow Braves catcher Tyler Flowers, who is similarly built.
Jackson is still only 23 years old, but his ceiling is very limited. At this point, Jackson's best path to the big leagues is as a power-only backup backstop with decent catch and throw skills.
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 40 | Overall: 45
Taken with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 Draft by the Mariners because of what was perceived to be one of the best high school bats in the country, Jackson seemed to be on the verge of becoming a lost prospect and potential first-round bust, despite Seattle moving him from behind the plate to the outfield so he could focus on hitting. He got to wipe the slate clean via a trade for Rob Whalen and Max Povse, moved behind the plate and took a big step forward in reclaiming his prospect status by smashing 19 home runs in the Braves system before adding five more in the Arizona Fall League, though that power didn't show up in 2018.
Jackson no longer profiles as the plus pure hitter some envisioned when he was coming out of the Southern California ranks, but that might be OK because of his sheer strength. He tends to muscle up on his swing too much, so seeing him hitting for average is a long shot, but he did unlock his plus raw power in 2017. Seeing him hit .240 with 25 homers might be the best-case scenario. Jackson bought into returning behind the plate and worked tirelessly at it, with the experience in the AFL sure to be invaluable. He has plenty of arm strength, but it's erratic, with a slower release. His receiving has improved because of his efforts, and the Braves believe he'll stick there.
Jackson successfully hit the reset button after the trade, putting himself back on the prospect map in 2017. An inability to replicate that effort in 2018 adds doubt back into the equation, though he did reach Triple-A.
Jackson was thought to be the best high school hitter in the 2014 Draft class, if not the top bat overall, and was in conversations for the No. 1 overall pick. The Mariners got him at No. 6 and quickly moved the high school catcher to the outfield, thinking his bat would carry him up the ladder quickly. Instead, he made very little progress -- he did show a little more pop in his bat in 2016 -- and Seattle sent him to the Braves in return for pitchers Max Povse and Rob Whalen last November.
The first thing the Braves did was move Jackson back behind the plate, thinking he could have more value there than in an outfield corner. Jackson embraced the move back behind the plate with open arms and made early improvements with his hands and mobility, and he's always had a strong arm. There is less pressure to produce offensively compared to an outfield corner, and that could help Jackson relax at the plate, where he's been slow to make adjustments.
Jackson eased into full-time catching by splitting time between being behind the plate and DHing. It looks like a new home and new position is helping him wipe the slate clean and start over again.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
Thought to be the best high school bat in the 2014 Draft class, and maybe the best overall hitter, Jackson's name was mentioned in conversations about the No. 1 overall pick. He ended up being the third hitter off the board, taken No. 6 overall by the Mariners, and signed for $4.2 million. He struggled with a full-season assignment to the Midwest League to start 2015, hitting just .157 in 28 games, but got back on track after a move down to Short Season Everett. The Mariners held him back in extended spring training in 2016, noting that he needed to mature both on and off the field, before finally assigning him to Class A Clinton in May. While he showed some progress, the Mariners sent him to the Braves in late November in the trade that netted them Rob Whalen and Max Povse.
Jackson packages bat speed with enormous strength to generate plus power from the right side of the plate. Though he projects to hit for average once fully developed, Jackson's aggressive approach and lack of selectiveness have produced a disconcerting strikeout rate early in his career career. He moved from behind the plate to the outfield full time upon signing and spent the entire 2015 season in right field, where he shows an above-average arm and decent range but lacks overall fluidity.
After left shoulder and left hand injuries limited him to only 76 games in 2015, Jackson has remained healthy in 2016 and showed more of the offensive upside that made him a no-doubt first-rounder two years ago, especially after he toned down the big leg kick in his swing. That being said, the gap between Jackson's present ability and overall potential remains considerable, and there are many boxes he needs to check before advancing to the next level.
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 55
Thought to be the best high school bat in the 2014 Draft class, and maybe the best overall hitter, Jackson's name was mentioned in conversations about the No. 1 overall pick. He ended up being the third hitter taken, No. 6 overall, joining four other Rancho Bernardo High School alumni to be drafted in the first round. He struggled with an assignment to full-season ball to start 2015 and tried to get headed back in the right direction with a move down to short-season Everett.
Jackson has an enormous amount of bat speed and strength from the right side of the plate that allows him to generate a lot of power. He's far from an all-or-nothing hitter, though, and should eventually hit for average as well along the way once he learns to tone down his swing. Jackson caught a fair amount in high school, but also played other positions, so he was able to switch to being a full-time outfielder fairly easily upon the start of his pro career. His best defensive tool, his plus arm, will work very well from right field.
Despite the early struggle, he has the kind of offensive upside to allow him to be an impact middle-of-the-order hitter in the future.
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 60
The top high school bat in the 2014 Draft class, Jackson became the fifth first-round pick out of Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) High School in suburban San Diego in the past two decades when the Mariners took him with the sixth overall selection.
Jackson's standout tool is his right-handed power, which he generates with bat speed and strength. Jackson has enough feel for hitting that he could hit for average in the Major Leagues, though he'll have to be sure to curb a tendency for his swing to get long at times -- which causes him to miss hittable fastballs.
Jackson's arm gives him a third future plus tool. A catcher in high school who also played elsewhere, Jackson was drafted as an outfielder, meaning his days behind the plate were over. His arm and athleticism fit well in right field, and the move should allow Jackson's bat to move through the system faster.