SDI Prospect Rankings – #6 Luke Jackson
After making his Major League Debut (finally!) last season,the 24-year-old right hander Luke Jackson is the oldest prospect on our list but he won’t be a prospect for long. Standing at 6′-2″, LuJax, as they call him, logged 6.1 total innings down the stretch in 2015.
- SDI Prospect Rankings – #7 Yohander Mendez
- SDI Prospect Rankings – #8 Josh Morgan
- SDI Prospect Rankings – #9 Ryan Cordell
- SDI Prospect Rankings – #10 Yeyson Yrizarri
- SDI Prospect Rankings – #11 Michael Matuella
- SDI Prospect Rankings – #12 Andrew Faulkner
- SDI Prospect Rankings – #13 Jairo Beras
- SDI Prospect Rankings – #14 Eric Jenkins
- SDI Prospect Rankings – #15 Brett Martin
Jackson looked like he could end up as a front half of the rotation starter through the end of the 2014 season. In his two half-seasons in the Texas League, Jackson dominated hitters, winning the Rangers pitching prospect of the year award in 2013. However, after his promotion to AAA late in 2014 Jackson struggled mightily.
In AAA Jackson couldn’t command his fastball as well as he did in the Texas League, leading to a huge increase in walks and meatballs left over the plate. Pacific Coast League umpires were not as forgiving as those in AA, forcing Jackson to be more precise. Hitters at that level were patient enough to lay off of his borderline pitches which lead to frustration and higher pitch counts.
After a rough end to 2014, the Rangers put him back in Round Rock to begin 2015 as a starter, but the results would be the same as the year before. After a month, the Rangers moved Jackson to the bullpen and it was a big success.
His electric mid to upper 90s fastball and offspeed repertoire worked well out of the pen, plus the command was not as big of an issue. In addition to that lively fastball, Jackson also pulls out a hammer-curveball with excellent late break. Out of the pen it works quite well to compliment the fastball. Jackson also has a slider and a changeup that both could be average pitches for him in the future.
With his stuff the move to the pen was always an option, but not every pitcher takes to the move as well as Luke Jackson did. He didn’t hesitate or question the authority; he just did as he was told and kept on grinding. This speaks volumes to his maturity and dedication to the team.
With the offseason bullpen acquisitions, Jackson could have a hard time earning appearances early in the season. If he has success early in the season it’s likely that confidence will fuel excellent and fairly consistent performance allowing him to carve out a defined role in this hopefully dominant bullpen.
Because he is young, talented, and controllable, Jackson is a critical piece to the Ranger’s organization. If he can build on a solid back half of 2015, Luke Jackson could be a staple of this Ranger bullpen for years to come.