MLB.com released their annual top 100 prospects list on Friday, and somewhat surprisingly, M's OF prospect Alex Jackson has been rated as the 28th best prospect in the game. This is surprising not because anyone necessarily doubted Jackson or his skill set, but because he's played in just 24 games in the Arizona Rookie League after transitioning from his natural position at catcher into the outfield. Also because he's 19 years old, and something about all of this is starting to sound a little familiar. This is by no means an entirely new development for an organization that recently had a trio of pitching prospects named after a creature out of ancient Greek mythology, but it's certainly encouraging considering said organization was recently ranked with the tenth-worst farm system in all of baseball.
If you haven't been keeping up on Jackson, he was drafted sixth by the M's in last year's draft straight out of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego--a school nicknamed "The Factory" in Michael Lewis' Moneyball due to it's track record of producing quality major-league talent. In addition, Rancho Bernardo's Wikipedia page lists a series of controversies such as the "Underwear incident" and the "Broomstick incident," which makes me kind of glad that my teenage years were spent sleeping through Mr. Morris' College Algebra Prep class instead of playing baseball. Then again, I don't have four million dollars right now, so what do I know.
Jackson is on track to open the year in Class A Clinton, according to M's Minor League director Chris Gwynn, and will certainly be a name to watch as this strangely well-built major league club looks to transition past Austin Jackson, Seth Smith, and Justin Ruggiano sometime in the next couple of years. Which is pretty encouraging when you think about it: in all likelihood, Alex Jackson will soon be playing in a Major League baseball game with Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, Felix Hernandez, and probably even Nelson Cruz. Things could be worse. They really could.
Following Jackson on the list is the former M's golden boy, D.J. Peterson, coming in 50th in his third year in the M's system. I would say something damning about face injuries here, but Jackson suffered a similar fate last season after getting walloped on the cheekbone while trying to get out of the way of a line drive. Either way, you'll be seeing Peterson get a crack at third and first during spring training this year, and if Jesus Montero something something frozen dessert product again, there's a fair chance Peterson could crack Safeco for some coffee by the end of the 2015 season.
Here's a well-thought out video of Jackson fouling off some BP pitches from last year's draft:
and here's Jack Z and M's director of amateur scouting Tom Mcnamara in the draft room when he was chosen:
You can see the rest of the top 100 prospects here.