When Andre Jackson toed the rubber Monday night at Dodger Stadium, one can only imagine what was going through his mind. Jackson just got called up to Triple-A OKC on July 31, and, less than 3 weeks later, was making his MLB debut in one of the most iconic settings in all of sports.
Jackson proved to be up to the task as he gave up just 2 hits and no runs in 4 innings of work and struck out 5. This was an experience that Jackson surely will never forget and one that was everything he had hoped for.
“It was everything I thought it was going to be and more,” Jackson was quoted as saying. “It was weird, I didn’t have the nerves I thought I was going to have, so I’m very grateful for that. But that last pitch I threw, I really felt like the energy of the crowd, it really was awesome. I don’t have the words.”
Jackson’s start with L.A. came as a surprise to many considering that his call up to Triple-A had been so recent. Jackson still hasn’t even made a start at Oklahoma City’s home Ballpark, The Bricktown Ballpark, and his profile picture on the MILB roster still has him wearing a AA Tulsa Drillers hat.
Surprise Start in L.A.
Earlier this week I made the familiar trip to OKC to take in some Triple-A Dodger baseball and I was especially excited because Andre Jackson was scheduled to pitch for the first time in the Bricktown Ballpark. Upon arrival, though, the skies opened up and the game got rained out. So, I assumed that his start would be pushed back to the next day, and that I would have to wait to see him until then.
But, to my amazement, when I turned on the Dodgers game later that night, there he stood, on the mound at Dodger Stadium, ready to make his MLB debut.
Jackson is the Dodgers’ #7 prospect according to MLB Pipeline and has made it to Triple-A, so, the fact that he got called up wasn’t a total surprise. But, I don’t think anyone expected it to be this soon.
How’d He Do in His MLB Debut?
As amazement slowly turned to excitement, my focus started shifting to Jackson’s last start, which was with OKC, but in Albuquerque.
In that outing, Jackson gave up just 1 run and 3 hits in 3 innings of work in a game that saw 21 runs scored. It was a game that was part of a series where 11-10 scores were the norm, so, giving up just 1 run in 3 innings was an exceptional outing.
The first thing that is of most relevance when breaking down Andre Jackson is how much his motion resembles Walker Buehler.
Walker Buehler side by side with Andre Jackson, full speed and slowed down pic.twitter.com/LoUHTVODAQ
— Josh Thomas (@jokeylocomotive) August 17, 2021
Jackson’s fastball can reach up to 96, so, like Buehler, the ball seems to jump out of his hand. And, it has a ton of “arm side” movement. Watch the “arm side” run on the fastballs in this next video
Andre Jackson with fastballs up here is gonna be the blueprint. pic.twitter.com/PCRb7ICYlo
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) August 17, 2021
Although Jackson’s motion resembles Walker Buehler, his change-up is along the lines of Greg Maddux. Like Maddux, Jackson’s change-up has a screwball effect to it. Jackson likes to start this pitch off the plate inside to lefties and let it tail back over the inside corner. Jackson got his first strikeout in the Big Leagues with this pitch.
Andre Jackson had some nice run to get his first strikeout.pic.twitter.com/UESc6E5CSG
— Dodger Blue (@DodgerBlue1958) August 17, 2021
Now, compare that to Greg Maddux in the following video throwing that exact same pitch. Start with the 2nd pitch in the video.
Adding to his arsenal of a tailing fastball and a “Greg Maddux” type change up, Jackson can also sink the change up to give it a 12-6 downward “bite” to dive under the strike zone.
Andre Jackson doubles up on the changeups for a strikeout. pic.twitter.com/YixN0pIgxN
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) August 17, 2021
Jackson does have a curveball and a slider, but they are not as refined as his tailing fastball and his two differently shaped change-ups so he doesn’t use them as much.
As he gains more experience hopefully he will become a guy that can trust four pitches, but as of now, he relies heavily on his tailing fastball and the two shapes to his changeup.
Keep in mind, he didn’t pitch all that much in college, so his breaking stuff has a good break, but it’s a little raw in terms of command.
Outfielder in College
Jackson was mainly an outfielder at Utah, and, with an era of 6.53, didn’t have a whole lot of success pitching in college. He also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017 and had to miss all of that year.
But, despite all of that, the Dodgers still drafted him in the 12th round, and, needless to say, haven’t regretted it a bit.
Jackson is 2nd in the Dodgers organization in ARA and batting average against, and, having played so much outfield in College, is obviously an above-average athlete for the position.
He also showed intangibles like poise and swag beyond his age and experience, and, it can’t go unsaid, that he has the best hair on the team.