The Rays cannot get enough athletes in their system. Welcome, Bralin Jackson.
Jackson forces a Rickey Henderson comparison because he bats righty and throws lefty. Unlike some of the Rays’ previous selections (Spencer Edwards and Alvin Toles), Jackson, coming out of Raytown (MO) South High School is not really that type of player. But he has plenty of raw ability. Jackson is an athletic 6’1″, 185 with very good but not elite speed. He moves well in centerfield but lacks instincts at this point, something he will have to develop to stay there. He does have a good centerfielder’s arm. Jackson also has not had the type of instincts you would like to see on the basepaths. But where Jackson stands out and the reason he is being picked here is his bat. Jackson shows extremely good bat speed with power. His approach at the plate is a complete work in progress. His plate discipline is non-existent. He can’t handle facing good breaking balls. But when he gets misplaced fastballs, he drills them for line drives and even some home runs. Jackson’s offensive potential makes him really stand out here.
Jackson is a complete work in progress. But he has some nice upside all over. Jackson is a player who is going to need to start from the very beginning at Rookie ball and methodically work his way through the minors. His chances are not very good. But he has the upside of a centerfielder who hits .280 with 25 homers, 25 steals, and good defense. He may have the power and arm strength to handle right field if he can’t handle centerfield. Jackson is a very interesting upside pick given his power and hitting potential to go along with his speed and athleticism. Once again, it’s unlikely that he works out. But Desmond Jennings was a similar player coming out of junior college and look how good he is now. The later in the draft you get, the more these players become longshots. But Jackson has legitimate talent and the potential to be a good major league player someday. Jackson is starting from the beginning and will need a lot of time to develop and there’s a good chance that he won’t work out. But the upside is clearly there and it’s clear that’s what the Rays are going for with this pick.