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MLB Draft: Blue Jays Select RHP Zach Jackson With 102nd Pick

For analysis and scouting reports on the Blue Jays earlier picks, click here

The Blue Jays have made their first selection of the second day of the 2016 MLB draft, picking RHP Zach Jackson out of Arkansas in the third round. The 21-year-old righty stands at 6’3″ and weighs 195 lbs. MLB Network said he could be one of the fastest movers in the draft if the Blue Jays put him in the bullpen.

Jackson was ranked as the 58th best prospect available in this draft class by Baseball Prospectus‘ Chris Crawford, and 66th by MLB Pipeline.

Jackson received the following grades from MLB Pipeline:

Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 65 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

From Chris Crawford’s MLB Draft book is the following report:

“Jackson is the Razorbacks closer, but this could be a Tyler Jay-type situation where someone gives him a chance to pitch in a rotation. There are two plus pitches, starting with a fastball that can get to 97 mph and sits 93-95. He will make hitters look foolish with a hammer curve that isn’t usually a strike, but the deception from his spin and arm speed makes it an easy 60-grade offering. He doesn’t have to use his change out of the bullpen, though he has shown a competent one that flashes average. There’s a substantial amount of effort in his delivery, so that likely keeps him from starting, as it’s doubtful he’ll have the command or stamina to handle the workload. Someone might be tempted to give him a chance, however, and there’s a chance he’s a third starter if it works.”

MLB Pipeline had the following to say:

“Jackson contributed immediately in Arkansas’ bullpen as a freshman, then took over as closer in 2015 and pitched the Razorbacks to the College World Series. Despite an inconsistent junior season that has included some time in Arkansas’ rotation, he figures to be one of the first relievers drafted in June.

Jackson’s best pitch is a hammer three-quarters breaking ball with curveball break and slider velocity in the low 90s. He usually operates at 93-95 mph with his fastball and can hit 97, though it can get straight at times. Jackson doesn’t need a changeup much as a reliever, but he has shown some aptitude for throwing one.

While Jackson has the size and athleticism to make it as a starter, scouts question whether he has the mechanics to pull off the transition. There’s a lot going on with his delivery, which features a long arm path and a deep shoulder tilt, and it hampers his control and command. If Jackson can’t cut it in the rotation, at least he can fall back on having the upside of a closer.”

Here’s MLB Pipeline’s scouting video featuring Jackson.

The Blue Jays have seven more picks today. We’ll have coverage on the picks in the next two rounds moments after they happen, and rounds six through ten at the end of the day.

Lead Photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Crawford’s MLB Draft Book can be purchased on iBooks for just $4.99. It’s a must buy for anybody looking to learn more about all the top players in the 2016 draft class. 

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