Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Justin Jackson was a supplemental first round selection of the Blue Jays in the 2007 draft.  Jackson played in the Gulf Coast League in 2007 and is now a member of the Lansing Lugnuts.  Jackson has made a good start to the 2008 season and is playing well for a 19 year old.  Recently Batters Box talked with Jackson in Lansing.

BB:  Coming up to the draft last year did you know the Jays were the team after you?

JJ:  There were a lot of different teams on me but the Jays showed a special interest and I am really excited to be with the Blue Jays and it has been a great situation.

BB:  You had already committed to college, was there a lot of thought about going pro or were you already committed?

JJ:  There was definitely a lot of thought went into it and a lot before the draft which made my decision easier leading up to the draft.  I made a good decision and I am very excited about what happened.

BB:  What was it like for an 18 year old to move away from home and essentially get a full time job and in the GCL too?

JJ:  It's definitely a tough adjustment but life is about learning and there was a lot of learning going on last summer, and a lot of good things happened that's helping me right now.  A lot of the things we did  and got out of the way made it easier for this year.

BB:  Was there a big difference between playing in the GCL and playing your high school ball?

JJ:  Yeah it's a big difference, you figure out now that this is a job and you take more pride into it now because you are doing it for a living now.  That was the biggest thing and learning a routine and things like that will incorporate into how you do because a lot of different things are involved in playing pro ball and it is different than playing amateur ball.

BB:  Did you see much of a difference between the pitchers in the GCL and in amateur baseball?

JJ:  In amateur baseball you see a good pitcher here and there but once you step into the pro circle it's going to be a good pitcher, the best of the best, everyday and that's a big difference.

BB:  Did you learn a lot in the instructional league last fall or do you learn by going through the grind of a season?

JJ:  Instructional league was really good, there was a lot of one on one instruction and I learned a lot of things about myself down there and I learned a lot of things that helped me in the off-season working and getting prepared for this season.  Definitely going through that half season helped me with a lot of different things pertaining to baseball on the field and off the field.  This whole last six months has been a big learning curve and it has been really exciting and a lot of tough times and a lot of hard times also.

BB:  I believe you added some weight in the off-season?

JJ:  I put on 12-15 pounds, I decided to go and dedicate myself to the weight room because I knew that would help me this season.  The Jays gave me a program and I stuck to the program and tried to do a little extra too.  I tried to build up that extra strength and agility and I can feel it paying off for me.

BB:  Did you have to get a personal trainer to help you out?

JJ:  I had a buddy who is training to be a personal trainer and we worked out just about every day together.

BB:  In spring training this year you got to spend some time with the big leaguers, what was that like?

JJ:  That was awesome, the big league guys, McDonald and Eckstein especially, worked a lot with me at shortstop, they thought me a lot of things, showed me some good work habits and they teach you the right way to go about the game because they have been doing it for a long time.  It was really special to get out there and get that opportunity.

BB:  Did you get into a few big league games?

JJ:  Yes, I got into I believe three and it was a lot of fun.

BB:  Did you face any big league pitchers?

JJ:  I faced Juan Rincon and a couple other guys.  It was really cool because less than a year before I was playing high school baseball and all of a sudden I am playing against some of the best players in the world.  It was a really good experience that thought me a lot and let me know it can be done one day and it gave me more to work for.

BB:  Coming into 2008 were there some goals you had?

JJ:  This year I just wanted to continue to play solid baseball and go about it the right way.  The numbers will be there if I play team baseball.  We stress playing as a team and trying to win every day and I think that brings the best out of each player.

BB:  Obviously your numbers are a lot better this year than last, it that a comfort thing or are you doing something different?

JJ:  It's all of the above, I learned a lot of things and a lot more about myself and about the game.  It's all coming together a little bit and there is a lot more work to be done and we will just keep doing that and see where it goes.

BB:  In last night's game you had some nice hits and showed good pop off the bat, is that something you always had or have you got better at it?

JJ:  I have definitely gotten better at it, it was a big adjustment to the wooden bat, it's starting to come around.  I had it with the aluminum bat but now it's coming with the wood. 

BB:  Were you surprised to get sent to Lansing this season or was that one of your goals?

JJ:  That was definitely one of my goals.  I wanted to break camp with a full season team so I could get a full season under my belt this season so that's what I was working hard for it ended up working out and I am pretty happy about that.

BB:  Had you played in the cold before, was that much of an adjustment?

JJ:  I played in the cold a little back home in North Carolina but nothing like this, that was a big adjustment to start with, hopefully that weather is just about out of here.

BB:  I guess the crowds here are a big difference from the GCL?

JJ:  In the GCL my Grandpa came to some games and that was about the only fan we had.  It's a lot of fun to play before a bigger crowd and it gets you amped up to play all the time.

BB:  Do you see much difference in the pitchers this year versus last year?

JJ:  The guys this year control their stuff a lot better, they will throw different pitches in the zone on different counts and that's the biggest thing.  They are more competitive in the zone.

BB:  You had an injury and missed some time, is everything OK now?

JJ:  I just took a bad swing and had a litle tweak in my shoulder but it's fine now and I am ready to play ball.

Batters Box would like to thank Justin Jackson for taking the time to talk with us.

An Interview with Justin Jackson | 13 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Tuesday, May 13 2008 @ 09:43 AM EDT (#185112) #
Great, Gerry.  Jackson seems disciplined and focused.  He might want to consider (and the team ought to encourage) him to get a certified trainer, remembering Brandon League's troubles.
S P - Tuesday, May 13 2008 @ 11:11 AM EDT (#185120) #
Looks like another great pick by JP and I was a big fan of this pick from the start. His .295/.396/.453 through 26 games in A ball is looking nice so far and he looks to be the real deal. It's about time this organization had a SS prospect to be excited about. And apparently he has 5-tool talent as well!

Question: I've read some places that he would be a Boras client. Is this true?
Pistol - Tuesday, May 13 2008 @ 11:29 AM EDT (#185121) #
I don't believe Jackson is a Boras client.  (Boras typically just has the elite of the draftees, particularly HS players (of the few he has), and Ricciardi generally avoids Boras).

Other than a shift to more strongly consider HS hitters in the draft I'm not sure there's a lot of credit for JP to take with Jackson.  (Ricciardi typically only has his hands in the first pick).  The credit would be to Jon Lalonde & his crew.

John Northey - Tuesday, May 13 2008 @ 12:21 PM EDT (#185124) #
Jackson looks to be one of those guys who just loves to play and can't believe he is getting paid for it from the sounds of it.  Great attitude.  I agree that he really needs to be watched carefully in the offseason as a poor trainer could easily screw him up.  Hopefully his friend is well on his way to being a pro-trainer and has the skills but is just missing certification.  I know if I was in the Jays shoes I'd be talking with the trainer and seeing that he matches up with the Jays goals for Jackson.
ChicagoJaysFan - Tuesday, May 13 2008 @ 12:35 PM EDT (#185127) #
I wouldn't be too concerned at all about the friend trainer.  League didn't hurt himself working out - he was already hurt after the 2006 season.  The problem was the he ignored the team's advice and continued to lift weights while he was told to rest.

The article linked earlier wasn't the best one I read at the time, just the only one that I can find now.

Also, muscle imbalance is more of an issue for pitchers than it is for hitters.  As long as Jackson doesn't do anything too crazy, I wouldn't be concerned at all ... meaning as long as he doesn't follow the workout habits David Wells or someone similar, he'll be fine.

Mylegacy - Tuesday, May 13 2008 @ 01:21 PM EDT (#185132) #

When drafted Justin was 6' 2" 175. Lansing's site has him at 186 - he and his "personal" trainer have added 11 pounds to his chiselled physique. Defensively, I imagine him as a cross between JMac and Tony Fernandez; offensively - I hope and pray he's another Tony F.

Gentlemen - I think we've got a keeper.

Barry Bonnell - Tuesday, May 13 2008 @ 04:15 PM EDT (#185150) #
Can anyone provide a link to a picture of Jackson?
FisherCat - Tuesday, May 13 2008 @ 04:40 PM EDT (#185153) #
westcoast dude - Tuesday, May 13 2008 @ 09:39 PM EDT (#185165) #
When Justin was drafted there was video floating around, it's in cyberspace. When I saw it, I said to myself, a say hey shortstop. Delighted the personal trainer is working out.
S P - Wednesday, May 14 2008 @ 02:22 AM EDT (#185182) #
I think this is the video you are thinking of:

They nailed his weaknesses: long swing and slow first step. But with time and strength training those two things will be fixed.

westcoast dude - Wednesday, May 14 2008 @ 08:11 AM EDT (#185188) #
Thanks, S P. You got it. "Ask and ye shall receive."
soupman - Wednesday, May 14 2008 @ 07:06 PM EDT (#185264) #
Thanks for this!
I've been hoping to get some more info on Justin Jackson - everytime I look the guy is having a 3/4 night, or making a solid contribution. How long before they move him up to double A do you think - or will he likely spend the whole season in Lansing regardless of his performance?

Lugnut Fan - Thursday, May 15 2008 @ 12:08 AM EDT (#185283) #
Jackson is going to spend the whole season in Lansing unless he absolutely blows up.  There is no chance he will be in double A this year, but I won't totally discount high A although that seems unlikely.  He is struggling a little bit with the bat at the moment.
An Interview with Justin Jackson | 13 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.