TCN 2013 Cardinals Prospect #15: Ryan Jackson

Jackson debuted on August 11

The shortstop made his Major League debut in August but promptly disappeared. What will 2013 bring?

The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
13 SS 5/1/1988 6-3 180 R R 2009 5th

School: University of Miami (Fla.)

Selected 2012 stats

Tm AVG BABIP AB R H 2B HR RBI BB SO SB wOBA OBP SLG OPS
MEM 0.272 0.306 445 60 121 23 10 47 43 75 2 0.325 0.334 0.396 0.730
StL 0.118 0.143 17 2 2 0 0 0 1 3 0 0.137 0.167 0.118 0.284

Jackson
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (11): When drafted, Jackson was said to be an outstanding defensive shortstop. One of my disappointments in his development is that, while constantly referred to as above average, he seldom gets accolades above that level.

Thankfully, his bat has been better than expected. Jackson has proven himself a solid .700+ OPS shortstop in the minors that should translate to an average offensive major league shortstop. With an above-average glove, too, he should eventually end up a starting shortstop in the bigs.

Jackson's reputation was somewhat tarnished as he languished on the major league bench down the stretch in favor of Pete Kozma. But just as I did not put too much weight on Kozma's performance, I put little weight on this tidbit as well.

Jackson is certainly in the mix for a major league bench job in 2013. Given the fragile state of starting shortstop Rafael Furcal, that could easily lead to a starting role. However, he could just as easily end up back at Triple-A Memphis for more seasoning.

Message board community (17): Jackson was 13th on the community list last year, sliding to 17th this year despite a strong Triple-A season. Jackson was the starting shortstop for Memphis, with Pete Kozma sliding over to second. But when the Cards needed a shortstop for the big league club, Kozma took control, and that likely influenced the community rankings, which were being developed just as Kozma went on his tear.

When Jackson was drafted, he was seen as a good glove man but with a bat that would need to develop. He managed a respectable .334 OBP and .396 SLG for Memphis last year. His numbers have been very similar in all four full-season leagues, with his OPS ranging from .714 to .749. They were similar before (.732) and after (.723) the all-star break last year. The right-handed hitter handled lefty pitching (.844) better than righty (.673).

Given that Kozma's Triple-A OPS's have been just .569 and .647, Jackson would seem the more likely future Cards shortstop. But there's that lack of playing time down the stretch to understand. I would think Jackson would be back at short with Memphis this year, though he could be pushed by Greg Garcia. -Gagliano

Brian Walton (21): In trying to understand Jackson's disappearance upon reaching St. Louis, I went looking for possible clues in his numbers. I didn't find too much.

In his Memphis stats, I did see something that surprised me. While most players will put up better results when hitting while ahead in the count versus behind, Jackson's difference between the two is huge - 1.086 OPS compared to .447. It seems like that gap could be exacerbated when the pitching is better, such as when moving up a level.

In looking for Jackson's name among the 2012 Pacific Coast League leaders, he appears in just two places. His 12 sacrifice hits placed him in a tie for third, just ahead of his teammate, pitcher Brandon Dickson. Jackson's 18 ground into double plays ranked fifth in the Triple-A league.

I have no idea why the Cardinals had Jackson starting at short all season in Memphis while Kozma manned second base only to flip the two players upon their arrival in the major leagues. It has the appearance of player development not being in sync with the major league staff.

Regardless of the position, I have to believe the Cards had a good reason to keep Jackson bolted to the bench in St. Louis. I have no idea what it was, though. Specifically, they kept him away from short, while also giving him very few opportunities to even play at second base. I have to admit that behavior affected his 2013 ranking.

It appears he will have to work even harder in the future to remove whatever stigma has been attached to him. His results on the field to date indicate he has deserved a chance. Or, if the organization does not see Jackson in their future plans, I hope they trade him while he still has value rather than turning him into the shortstop version of Bryan Anderson.




Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.



There's more! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.



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