Red Sox pitching prospect Gabriel Jackson was extremely efficient in his second start of the minor-league season for Low-A Salem on Saturday night.
Going up against the Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Astros affiliate) at SEGRA Stadium in North Carolina, Jackson tossed four scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and no walks to go along with four strikeouts.
Both hits allowed by the right-hander came in the bottom of the third, but he escaped that jam and proceeded to retire each of the final five batters he faced before making way for Blake Loubier in the middle of the fifth. The Salem Red Sox ultimately defeated the Woodpeckers by a final score of 5-3.
Of the 44 pitches Jackson threw on Saturday, 34 went for strikes. Through two starts with Salem now, the 20-year-old has yet to allow a run and is holding opponents to a .130 batting average against over his first seven innings of work this season.
The Red Sox originally signed Jackson for $350,000 as an international free agent out coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2018. At that time, Baseball America’s Ben Badler noted that the Samana native was “a strong, thick-boned pitcher” who featured heavy life on a fastball that reached 93 mph.
Upon signing with Boston in 2018, Jackson made his professional debut the following year in the Dominican Summer League, where he posted a 3.49 ERA and 3.97 FIP with 38 strikeouts to 27 walks across 14 starts spanning 59 1/3 innings pitched.
While the 2020 minor-league season was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jackson was at least able to participate in the Sox’ fall instructional league in Fort Myers. He spent the entirety of the 2021 campaign in the rookie-level Florida Complex League and produced a 3.57 ERA, 4.83 FIP, and 17:11 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 10 appearances (two starts) and 17 2/3 innings of work.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Jackson still has some room to grow physically and developmentally since he is still just 20 years old and does not turn 21 until September. Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the righty currently works with three different pitches: a 90-94 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, an 84-88 mph slider, and an 87-89 mph changeup.
Although he is not yet and may never be regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox farm system, Jackson will undoubtedly get to pitch plenty with Salem this season. Boston’s director of player development, Brian Abraham, said as much in a recent conversation with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings.
More specifically, Abraham told Jennings that Jackson and fellow right-hander Tyler Uberstine will get “a lot of innings as piggyback starters coming out of the bullpen and making occasional starts of their own.”
As previously mentioned, Jackson’s first two appearances of 2022 have come in the form of starts. With that, it should be interesting to see how long it will be until the Dominican-born hurler is used by Salem as a multi-inning or bulk reliever out of the bullpen.
(Picture of Gabriel Jackson: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)