- Full name Conor Sims Jackson
- Born 05/07/1982 in Austin, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School California
- Debut 07/28/2005
Drafted in the 1st round (19th overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2003 (signed for $1,500,000).
View Draft ReportJackson has had a tough year physically. He injured his right ankle rounding second base in the first game of the year and later was shelved with an arm injury. He started slowly at the plate but lifted his average to almost .400 by May, even though he was pitched around. He hasn't shown the consistent power he did in 2002, when he homered 16 times. But a big weekend against Stanford was seen by a lot of influential scouts. Jackson takes huge hacks at the plate and can put a charge in the ball, though not quite like Xavier Nady, his predecessor at third base. He is one of the draft's top power hitters, and yet leads the Pacific-10 Conference in on-base percentage. He walks almost three times as often as he strikes out--stats that are sure to endear him to a team like the Athletics, who have three of the first 33 picks and value plate discipline. Where Jackson plays is another matter. Though he makes throws on the run exceptionally well at third base, his actions and range are just average. He'll likely end up at first base, where he spent most of his sophomore year. Jackson's father John is an actor, and has portrayed "JAG" leader Admiral A.J. Chegwidden on the CBS drama. Jackson himself has had bit parts growing up.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Jackson has hit at least .300 at every minor league stop in his brief pro career, and his .354 average at Triple-A Tucson represented a career high when he was called up in late July. He was unable to replicate his success with Arizona due in part to his inconsistent playing time. While Jackson's bat is his only above-average tool, it's exceptional. His simple mechanics and contact-oriented approach allow him to spray line drives into the gaps seemingly at will. His pitch recognition is off the charts, and he's strong enough to hit at least 20 homers annually. Drafted as a third baseman, he now projects to be an average first baseman. Jackson can be too passive at times at the plate, waiting for the perfect pitch instead of hammering one he could drive. Arizona straightened his stance at the end of 2004, but returned to a pronounced wide setup in 2005, sapping him of some power. Despite Tony Clark's 30-homer season, the Diamondbacks want Jackson's bat in their lineup. He should be their everyday first baseman in 2006.
Jackson's power and patience made him one of the most desirable college hitters in the 2003 draft, and he has shown why so far in his brief pro career. He set a short-season Northwest League record with 35 doubles in just 68 games during his pro debut. He followed Carlos Quentin's path in 2004, splitting the season between high Class A and Double-A while producing every step of the way. Jackson is one of the best pure hitters in the minors. He has above-average bat speed and makes sharp contact to all fields. He rarely swings at bad pitches and rarely misses good ones. The Diamondbacks have worked on straightening his stance in order to produce more power, and he responded by tying for the Arizona Fall League lead with eight homers. Jackson's bat will be good enough for any position, good news considering his defensive skills. Primarily a third baseman in college, he has been disappointing as a pro left fielder. His below-average speed is only complicated by poor instincts and routes, and his arm is lacking. Like Quentin, Jackson will begin the season at Triple-A with the hope that he'll be ready for full-time duty in 2006. He eventually may have to move to first base.
After signing for $1.5 million, Jackson set a short-season Northwest League record for doubles and led the circuit in RBIs. Arizona moved him from corner infielder to outfielder because of its infield depth. His father John plays admiral A.J. Chegwidden on TV's "JAG." Jackson is as polished as any hitter from the 2003 draft. He has a quick bat and swings only at pitches he can hit. He was called out on strikes a few times early in his pro career, and Diamondbacks officials said it was because he knew the strike zone better than the umpires. He has an average arm. Shoulder tendinitis forced Jackson to DH for most of the summer, so he's still adjusting to the outfield. He's working on reading balls and taking better routes. The Diamondbacks want Jackson to put more backspin on the ball, which they hope will add carry to take more of his doubles over the fence. He doesn't have great speed but won't clog the bases. Jackson projects as a .300 hitter with 20-30 homers a year. He likely will begin 2004 at high Class A Lancaster.
Minor League Top Prospects
Weeks has a faster bat and Fielder has more strength, but no one in the PCL could match Jackson's pitch recognition. He picks up the ball so quickly out of the pitcher's hand that he's almost never fooled or loses his balance. Tacoma manager Dan Rohn said Jackson has the best concept of the strike zone he'd seen in his five years in the league. Jackson doesn't chase bad pitches and he doesn't miss the ones he should punish. He uses an all-fields, line-drive approach rather than selling out for power, and one scout said the ball jumped off his bat more in the Arizona Fall League last offseason than it did this year. But even the most conservative projections give him average home run production in the majors. "You get the feeling he's going to get a hit every time up," another scout said. "There's not a pitch he can't hit. He has great hand-eye coordination and great feel for the barrel of the bat. He must have Superman vision or something." Jackson spent his first two pro seasons as an outfielder but lacks the speed to play there in the majors. Though his inexperience at first base showed in 2005, he should be solid there in time.
Jackson, like Quentin, was a first-round pick in 2003 out of the Pacific-10 Conference. Unlike Quentin, Jackson is new to the outfield, having played third base and later first for California. He's not as polished defensively as Quentin and profiles more as a left fielder, which is one of the ways managers can tell them apart. Jackson also has a more pure stroke and less raw power. He makes solid hard contact to all fields, has excellent bat control and a good feel for hitting. He has excellent plate discipline for his experience level as well, so managers expect the power numbers to climb as he continues to adjust to wood bats and learn pro pitching patterns. Jackson isn't overly athletic and is limited to left field or first base defensively. He has an average arm and shouldn't have problems becoming an adequate outfielder.
Drafted 10 slots ahead of Quentin last year, Jackson teamed with him in Lancaster and again in Double-A. They figure to patrol Arizona's outfield corners together for several years, likely starting sometime next season. Jackson reached base in all but six games he played for Lancaster, thanks to what was considered the Cal League's best strike-zone recognition. He has a quick bat, a willingness to use the entire field and developing power. He should hit for average and produce 20-30 homers annually. "He doesn't swing at bad pitches," Inland Empire manager Daren Brown said, "and he doesn't miss good ones." Seen by many as the offensive mirror image of Quentin, Jackson doesn't offer as much with the glove. His below-average speed and arm strength had some observers predicting an eventual move to first base, where he'd still have enough bat.
The Diamondbacks shifted Jackson, a corner infielder at California, to the outfield. Shoulder tendinitis kept him from getting too much work in left field, where his adequate arm and speed give him a chance to be average at best. But his bat was more than enough to shoot him up the prospect list. Jackson belted a league-record 35 doubles, or one in every seven at-bats, and led the league in RBIs. "He hit a ton of doubles, and a lot of those doubles just missed being home runs and bounced off the wall," Spokane manager Darryl Kennedy said. "He'll also hit for average. He's going to put up some monster numbers down the road." Jackson's quick bat can catch up to any fastball, and he makes adjustments on breaking balls. Jackson is still mainly a pull hitter and needs to work on going the opposite way. While many project more power from Jackson, some managers said he was more likely to hit for a high average without ever developing standout power.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Pacific Coast League in 2005
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the California League in 2004