It's been a long road for Jackson since he was chosen in the eighth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, and now that he's finally in the clubhouse for his first big league camp, he's discovered that there's not many opportunities to catch his breath at this level, either.Who knows, in a couple of seasons the Yankees could have a homegrown outfield with Jackson, Melky Cabrera, and Jose Tabata.
"I think they're trying to get the players in better shape," said Jackson of Yankees manager Joe Girardi's conditioning regimen. "You need to be in pretty good shape to get through 162 games. This year, it seems like Girardi is a little bit more serious about it."
It's good for Jackson, though, he said, because the more difficult things have gotten for him, the better he seems to have performed. ... the speedy outfielder struggled with mechanics at the plate and was forced to spend more than a season at Class A Charleston, working out the kinks.
"There were a lot of things I had to work on," Jackson admitted. "It was a lot different than high school, obviously. On top of that, the pitching pretty much dominated me early on."
The nearly 800 at-bats he gathered in low-A ball would pay off, and the 22-year-old emerged with a shorter, more balanced swing that saw him hit .345 (89-for-258) with 15 doubles and 10 homers in the Florida State League before he was promoted to Double-A Trenton for the season finale.
It's there that he'll likely begin the 2008 season. Should he continue to produce, he may see time with the Yankees as early as 2009, which would create a stir in the veteran outfield. Still, it's something Jackson said would definitely make all of the work worthwhile.
"I've always wanted to be able to play in Yankee Stadium one day, and now they're starting to let younger players develop in the Minor Leagues and giving them a chance to play in the big Yankees games," Jackson said. "Younger players are starting to get more involved and be able to play at that level."
The article also has are updates on Brett Gardner and Andrew Backman.