- Full name Edwin Jackson
- Born 09/09/1983 in Neu-Ulm, Germany
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Shaw
- Debut 09/09/2003
- Drafted in the 6th round (190th overall) by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Jackson was dominant at times in his September 2003 big league callup, beating Randy Johnson on his 20th birthday in his first outing. A prime Rookie of the Year candidate for 2004, he struggled in spring training and never got untracked. His confidence suffered and he missed a month with a strained forearm. Though his velocity fluctuated last year, Jackson's lively fastball sits at 93 mph and touches 97 when he's healthy and pitching downhill. His slider was also inconsistent, but at times showed the tight, late break that makes it a potential out pitch. He has outstanding makeup and work ethic. The Dodgers tweaked Jackson's delivery and he seldom repeated the same free and easy motion. He was primarily an outfielder until 2002 and still lacks an advanced feel for pitching despite his meteoric rise. He needs to hone his control and consistency, especially of his offspeed stuff. While Jackson regressed a year ago, he remains a premium prospect. The Dodgers had him rest during the offseason and hope he makes a better showing in spring training this year. Unless he's lights out, he'll open 2005 back at Triple-A Las Vegas.
First spotted by Dodgers scouts Jim Lester (now with the Pirates) and Lon Joyce when he was a center fielder at Shaw High in Columbus, Ga., Jackson also was the No. 3 starter behind Nick Long, now an Expos prospect, and Steven Register, now Auburn's closer. Jackson reached 91 mph at the time, but Joyce's first instinct was to make the most of his athleticism and bat potential in the outfield. The Dodgers weren't sure which direction his career would head, so they allowed him to DH when he wasn't pitching during in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2001. They abandoned any thoughts of developing him as an outfielder the following spring, and his career took off. After beginning 2002 in extended spring training, Jackson jumped to low Class A South Georgia. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his first start and fell seven innings short of qualifying for the South Atlantic League ERA title, which he would have won. Jackson skipped another level to start the 2003 season as one of the youngest pitchers in Double-A. He became the youngest pitcher since Dwight Gooden to win his major league debut when he beat Randy Johnson in September. Jackson's picturesque delivery, clean arm action and premium athleticism aid him in making 98 mph fastballs look effortless. He sits between 91-97 and can maintain his velocity deep into games. His slider and changeup both have come a long way since he made the full-time conversion to pitching, and while he's not consistent with his secondary pitches he flashes above-average potential with both offerings. Each of his three pitches features plus life, with his fastball boring up into the zone, his slider showing hard bite and depth at times, and his circle changeup fading and sinking. Jackson demonstrates an advanced feel for pitching too, not afraid to pitch inside or double up on sliders and changeups. The Dodgers have done a fine job limiting Jackson's workload. He was limited to around 100 pitches a start, and he was scratched from the Arizona Fall League to avoid putting more innings on his arm. Jackson has been unfazed by his rapid ascent. He still needs to gain consistency and confidence with his slider and changeup. Like many strikeout pitchers, he can amass lofty pitch counts. With three potential out pitches and plus command, that shouldn't be an issue for long. Jackson is the complete package, and fits the profile of a top-of-the-line starting pitcher to a tee. He established himself as one of the elite prospects in baseball even before his September callup, and his performance all but guaranteed him a spot in the Los Angeles rotation for 2004. He's the best homegrown pitching prospect the Dodgers have developed since Pedro Martinez, and they don't plan on letting this one get away.
Jackson's story is the opposite of James Loney's. Most teams coveted Jackson's bat when he was in high school, but the Dodgers drafted him as a pitcher. They allowed him to DH between starts during his pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. They wanted his athleticism on the mound, however, and he began concentrating solely on pitching last spring. He started the season in extended spring training, joined low Class A South Georgia in May and was named the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. Jackson throws 91-94 mph with a picture-perfect arm action, and he can get to 96 with heavy, late action up and in on righthanders. His slider has slurvy action, showing hard, tight spin and late bite at times. He's one of the best athletes in the system, with the makings of an easy, repeatable delivery. Though he throws two types of breaking balls, Jackson might be better off abandoning the curve to help him improve his slider. The Dodgers say he'll be more efficient with his pitch counts once he gains consistency with his mechanics. His changeup has potential but still needs more work. The Dodgers project Jackson as a frontline starter. After an impressive showing in instructional league, he might make a move to Double-A this year.
Minor League Top Prospects
After a breakthrough 2003 that included beating Randy Johnson in his major league debut on his 20th birthday, Jackson was primed for a run at Rookie of the Year. But he quickly pitched his way out of the Dodgers rotation in spring training and later missed a month with a strained forearm. Jackson's pure stuff is still unquestioned. When he was 100 percent, he pitched at 93-97 mph with his fastball and showed a nasty slider. He developed so rapidly a year ago that he's still learning how to pitch. He gets into trouble when his fastball and slider flatten out and he leaves them up in the zone. Jackson doesn't throw his changeup enough, and his command slipped a notch this year. At times he tries to be too fine with his pitches rather than just overpowering hitters with them. He may not have enough feel for pitching to become a true No. 1 starter, but he should be at least a No. 2 or a possible closer.
The Dodgers had planned to curtail Jackson's workload toward the end of the season after he ranked second in the SL in starts and strikeouts. When injuries opened a spot in the big league rotation in September, however, they couldn't resist the temptation of Jackson's explosive fastball, darting slider and advanced composure. The league's youngest player until teammate Greg Miller and Orlando's B.J. Upton arrived--neither qualified for the list--Jackson was able to thrive using a fastball regularly touching 97-99 mph and usually sitting in the 93-95 range. His fluid mechanics give him easy velocity, and his fastball has excellent life, especially down in the zone. "His fastball just stood out so much. He had good command of it, mound presence, and just threw it so hard so easy," Greenville manager Brian Snitker said. "I never saw his breaking ball be a plus pitch, but with his motion and age and athletic ability, you can see how it will improve, and his changeup too." Jackson, who outdueled Randy Johnson to become the youngest pitcher since Dwight Gooden to win his major league debut, earns comparisons to Gooden for his fastball but throws a slider instead of Gooden's big curveball. When it's on, it's a power breaker in the mid-80s with late bite. Jackson showed late in the season that he had developed a feel for a changeup.
No player in the league improved his status more than Jackson did with the Dodgers. He didn't make his first appearance with South Georgia until May 17, yet looked like a seasoned veteran. One manager rated him as one of the top three pitching prospects on the circuit. Jackson shocked the competition early in the season with his 94-96 mph fastball. He overpowered hitters up in the strike zone and locked them up by pitching inside. Though he showed signs of tiring toward the end of his first full season, he continued to work hard on improving his secondary offerings, and had developed a decent changeup by the end of the year. "He's got a good, athletic body and a great feel for all of his pitches, especially when you consider how inexperienced he is," Beyeler said. "You can tell he's headed in the right direction."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Fastball in the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Pacific Coast League in 2004
- Rated Best Fastball in the Pacific Coast League in 2004