The Blue Jays’ 3rd-rounder made five starts in 18 appearances for the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2016
The Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Zach Jackson, their third-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, according to a report from Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi late Tuesday night.
Jackson was one of the Blue Jays’ most intriguing early-round selections given the immense ceiling of his raw potential. His ability to reach that potential has been hampered, however, by inconsistencies in his game and difficulties controlling his fastball.
Davidi adds that the Blue Jays are planning to use Jackson as a starting pitcher initially in hopes that a steady role will benefit him after bouncing back and forth between the rotation and bullpen at Arkansas. Details of the agreement have not yet been released, but Jackson is reportedly expected to sign close to the slot value of $585,100.
Jackson’s designation as a starter – for the time being – is important because he was initially considered to have one of the quickest paths to the major league level of Toronto’s draft picks. The volatility of his game did not make that path a guarantee, of course, but with a high-powered fastball and an excellent curveball, there was at least a chance he could help the Blue Jays bullpen in the near future if everything clicked.
He now becomes a unique mix of experience and “project”, with the organization’s pitching coaches looking to hone in his mechanics and delivery.
Last season with the Razorbacks, Jackson struck out 66 batters over 53.0 innings, but walked 40 and recorded an ERA of 5.09. The year prior in 2015, he recorded a mammoth 89 strikeouts over 60 innings with 38 walks and an ERA of 2.10.