It appears John Coppolella has continued his trend of finding diamond in the rough relievers on the trade market. From Arodys Vizcaino to Jose Ramirez, Coppy has been great at finding cost controlled upside arms for pennies on the dime. He may have struck gold again with Luke Jackson.
Remember Tyrell Jenkins? For those wondering, he is now pitching for the Padres AAA affiliate. He has a 6.71 ERA in 12 starts. Yikes. Before Jenkins was claimed off waivers by multiple teams this offseason, the Braves traded him and Brady Feigl to the Texas Rangers for Luke Jackson. Essentially, they got a return for Jenkins before they were going to just release him.
Jackson, a 2010 1st rounder, came up as a starting pitcher, and media outlets were quick to name him a top-10 prospect for the Rangers. However, they eventually had to move him to the bullpen, where he has performed much better. He is a hard-thrower, but could be limited going forward by control issues. The Braves bought low on this kid for his baggage, but so far, so good.
In ten relief appearances for the big league team since being promoted, Jackson has given up just two runs. It is a microscopic sample size, but he currently has the lowest walk rate at any level in his career. The 25-year old has had other big leagues stints with the Rangers, including a bad stint in 2016, but never “stuck”. He is currently in a low-leverage role in the Braves bullpen, but if he continues to have this type of success the team will ultimately use him more in crunch time.
His career professional numbers look flukey, but so did Jose Ramirez’s. It is all about “stuff” and upside, and Jackson has it. He did not start pitching until his junior year of high school, so he not only has a fresh arm but also has a ton of room to still grow. The Braves are notorious for turning no-names into great relievers, and Jackson could be next in line. In a topsy-turvy year for the Braves’ bullpen, Luke Jackson has been a pleasant surprise.
The good news Braves fans? If he does in fact stick, he is not a free agent until 2023.