Defense Is Jackson's Trademark
When you mention Ryan Jackson’s name to scouts you might be surprised with the first word that comes out of their mouth. No, Jackson will not hit for thirty home runs in the major leagues and no, Jackson will not steal thirty bases in the major leagues. However, the high school senior ranks as the top defensive shortstop in the country and his defensive abilities are drawing praises from college coaches and scouts.
“My defensive game has always been the premier tool of my game,” said Jackson. “I’ve heard a lot of scouts say I have fast and quick hands, and have a good arm. I just love to play the infield.”
Jackson wowed scouts in the stands during this summers AFLAC Classic. Jackson played a brilliant shortstop, getting an “A” grade in every aspect of the position. He showed the proper range, arm, speed, quickness, and transfer ability. He made accurate throws to first, got the double play started quickly and even threw out multiple runners at home plate after receiving the cut-off throw from left field.
“I was honored when I was announced as a member of the AFLAC All-American Team and got to participate in the AFLAC Classic,” the shortstop said. “It was fun to meet new players and interact with players from all around the country. It gave me a taste of what it feels like to play professional baseball. We also visited hospitals and spent time with patients – the entire event was tremendous.”
Jackson grew up playing shortstop and never knew another position. From a young age he was working on his defensive game, knowing it could catapult him to big things.
“It was the position I grew up playing,” the senior said. “I guess it was my freshman year in high school that I began to realize I was playing the position well.”
Jackson made his varsity team as a high school freshman and won the shortstop position on his team.
“I was making all the correct plays and didn’t have a problem handling the position. It was at that point that I knew I had a good shot of sticking as a shortstop.”
Jackson, who has transferred from Gulliver Prep to Florida Christian, will be looking to help his high school team win a state championship for the third consecutive season.
Last season Jackson began making a minor experiment with his game offensively. He was struggling at the plate late in the season and trying to break out of a long slump, he stepped to the plate – but took position in the left-side of the batters box. Jackson finished the game 3-for-4 and went 5-for-12 from the left side of the plate on the season. Since then has tried working on his switch-hitting approach.
“It’s two totally different swings,” Jackson said. “I still need to work on it a lot and it takes a lot of time to master switch hitting. You can’t focus on just the left side, because then your right hand swing will suffer.”
Jackson has not decided if he will continue to switch hit this season, but knows he will not fool around with it for any reason.
“Either I will or I won’t,” the natural right-hander said. “I’ll make a definite decision shortly.”
Jackson’s entire focus is on his high school season and nothing else, and that includes the upcoming June First-Year Player Draft. The Florida native is maintaining his concentration on improving his game on offense and continuing to work on his defense skills, in hopes of winning a state championship.
“Right now I am focused on my senior year of high school,” Jackson said when asked about the June draft.
The slick fielding shortstop has already committed to the University of Miami and is looking forward to playing shortstop for the Hurricanes. Although he had offers from Georgia Tech and LSU, Jackson chose Miami since it’s fifteen minutes away from his home in Florida.
“I grew up watching Miami play since I was little. It was always at my top list of schools and when they called me to make me the offer I knew it was not worth passing up.”