Tyler Kepner interviewed the #2 rated prospect in the Yankee system, Austin Jackson:
Q: What’s been going so well for you this year?
A: I think just working in the cage, trying to get something that feels comfortable and translates into the game. Not trying to do too much, stay within myself. I’m trying to kind of calm the game down, not make it so fast for me. A lot of working in the cage, that’s really been helping me offensively.
Q: You played two sports in high school, baseball and basketball. Now that you’ve had a chance to devote yourself to baseball, what kind of talent are you tapping into?
A: I think I’m starting to definitely become a smarter baseball player. In rookie ball, I knew how to hit, but I didn’t know how to work the count. I’d swing early in the count, maybe at a bad pitch, because I was just a ballplayer. But I’m starting to study the game a lot more, know what the pitchers have, things like that. I think I’m definitely becoming a better baseball player as opposed to just an athlete.
Q: Do you know now that you made the right decision?
A: I think I made the right choice. I wanted to make a choice and stick with it, and not go back in the past. I think I made the right decision. I’m definitely having fun now, knowing that one day I might be playing outfield for the Yankees. It’s definitely fun. It’s a grind in the minor leagues, but it’s just something everybody has to go through.
Q: You’re two levels away, but when you’re having success here and you see young guys up in the majors, do you think it’s possible that you might get a chance really soon?
A: Yeah, especially when you look at the pitchers; they’re calling young guys up and they’re making an impact. It’s kind of given them a spark. They’re definitely giving the younger guys a chance as the older guys start heading out. It’s definitely something to look forward to. You never know in this game. Hopefully nobody gets hurt, but if somebody does, they’re calling guys up to replace them all the time.
Q: Whether it’s you or Brett Gardner at AAA, what can your kind of speed do to change a game?
A: It can change the outcome of a game, one stolen base, getting yourself into scoring position, that puts a burden on the pitcher and the guy hitting behind you can drive in a run. It’s definitely good to have speed. It helps out in all aspects of the game. They say speed kills. It’s the one part of my game that I can rely on.
Q: If you’d stayed with basketball, do you think you could be in the NBA right now?
A: (laughs) I think I could. I’ve been checking out some of the talent in college basketball, I’ve been sizing them up. I think I’d have what it takes.
A-Jax is an exciting prospect; the combination of power and speed with an ability to hit for a high average puts him as a potential Bernie Williams type player.
Assuming all goes to plan, a September call-up with a spot on the 2009 opening day roster could be in the cards.