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Zach Jackson: in like a lion, out like a lamb


miwokE

I know it's Spring, symbol of new life, new hope and new beginnings, but Spring dumped 6-8" of snow on Wisconsin yesterday, so I feel justified in putting the optimism on hold a little longer.

 

I think it's time we stop referring to our favorite AAA lefty starter as Zach-Jack and call him what he is...Zach Jackson, 6'-5" over-hyped lefty prospect who joined the organization with the Lyle Overbay trade. A guy who had moderate success as a college starter and has had 3/4 of a season of success in the minors, where he dominated younger, less experienced hitters in single A Dunedin. But when matched up against players closer to his own age and experience level, he has shown little promise.

 

I think we all expect more from a top ten (currently #6 on the Power 50) prospect on the brink of joining the big league club, than a 4-6 record in 18 starts with a 4.12 era and a 1.4 whip at AAA. Many excused last years struggles citing he was 'working on his mechanics' or some variation thereof. But can you really buy that rationale for more than a handfull of lackluster starts?

 

I wanted to believe as much as anyone, but more and more I'm seeing a Kyle Peterson type prospect who is riding high on the success he saw when it should have been expected of him rather than showing the improvement necessary to be a legitimate, upper level prospect.

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A couple of comments:

 

The fact that Jackson is rated the number six prospect in the Brewers organization doesn't mean he's going to be a top of the rotation guy.

 

I think most people projected him to be a middle-to-back of the rotation starter or reliever based on his stuff. That doesn't make him over-ranked, as teams need 3, 4, and 5 starters, too. I think it's too easy to see "No. 6" and think of him as a disappointment.

 

Many excused last years struggles citing he was 'working on his mechanics' or some variation thereof. But can you really buy that rationale for more than a handfull of lackluster starts?

 

I don't recall Jackson or anyone mentioning a mechanical change, but if he made one, yeah, I can understand that. It only takes three or four breakdowns per start, three or four pitches out of 100, to turn a decent start into a terrible one. Depending on the change, it could take a full season or more for the change to take hold and help him.

 

I can't even imagine how hard it would be to not only unlearn something that you have done so often that is has become almost a habit, but then learn a new way of doing things. It would almost be like being taught a different way to type after doing it a certain way for years.

 

But the most difficult part of a mechanical change isn't getting it down so you do it most of the time, it's getting the change down so you do it all the time. You've got to be able to use and trust your new mechanics all the time, even when the bases are loaded and there is only one out. The temptation or instinct to revert to how you did things before has got to be tremendous.

 

Again, I don't recall any changes being made. But if he's making them, I wouldn't be at all surprised to know that some of his struggles resulted from the changes he's making.

 

To answer the general comment, I don't think that Jackson had the kind of year he hoped for last year. But I think it's premature to write him off, especially if one kept realistic expectations.

Chris

-----

"I guess underrated pitchers with bad goatees are the new market inefficiency." -- SRB

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I suppose it harkens back to the questions of how do you define a prospect? and what makes one guy's success more important, or relevant to his prospect status, than another guy's?

 

But why is it that we are still as high on him as we are while we see more signs of life from guys like Dillard, Hammond and even Parra, injuries and all?

 

I suppose I am suggesting, in a way, that we right him off. Not as a failure or a complete disappointment but as someone deserving of the kinds of expectations given to a future spot starter/middle reliever, more than a future middle of the rotation type pitcher. If he had broken the big leagues in '99 or '00, he may well have been a decent no.3 starter for this team (relative to our alternatives). But with my, and I think most's, idea of what the Brewers' standards should be for the next five or so years, I don't see him deserving more than what Capellan or Sarfate might be given. Do you?

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after acquiring him I had him unranked in my January 2006 brewerfan.net user poll, and that was out of 20 players I think. I was likely the only one with him unranked, to the point where I was asked if I forgot him. I just felt we had 20 players I knew about, and he was one with underwhelming numbers that I knew little about.

 

Last year he had a rather rough year. Yes it was in the PCL, but he hardly performed as most here expected. Let's see how he does in year 2 in Nashville. But as of now, I'd expect contributions from Capellan, Sarfate, Gallardo, Dillard, Hammond, Parra, and Jones before Zach Jackson

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In the past I brought up the Jackson's results weren't good and that his secondary numbers were horrid, usually in response to people calling for him to make the major league team. You may have seen some people responding that perhaps his terrible stint in AAA was due to him working on something. I find that hard to believe. He has serious control issues it seems so I don't expect much out of him.
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I saw him pitch last year at AT&T/Pac Bell/Whatever it is now stadium in San Francisco. His control was a little shaky, but he allowed only four hits in five innings, none of them hit hard, and he made Bonds look silly a couple of times. I think the one K he had was on Bonds; he had Bonds set up for a high fastball and threw the change, and Bonds just about screwed himself into the dirt. He then threw the high heat right by him.

 

He has promise. Don't write him off yet.

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I also had high hopes for the tall lefty, but I also realize he is barely three years removed from the draft. And I would definitely expect more from him than Manny Parra at the moment, though I have been a fan of Manny since Beloit.
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With any success, Parra and Jones should reach AAA. I mention Jones because he's already spent parts of 4 seasons at Huntsville now. I wonder if they'll try him in the bullpen at some point. Of course, it depends on what is easier for his arm.
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He has serious control issues it seems so I don't expect much out of him.

 

You can have control issues and be relatively effective (Cabrera, Zambrano, etc.), but the thing that scares me is his inability to get K's. He doesn't seem to have an out pitch.

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