Acquired from the Braves in exchange for Adam Duvall prior to the 2021 trade deadline, Alex Jackson was seen as a contender to provide short-term help for the Marlins’ catching situation. Jackson didn’t play much with his former team, hitting 1-for-23 in 10 major league games earlier in the season. But his production with their Triple-A affiliate was extremely good (21 R, 31 H, .287 BA, .366 OBP, .694 SLG, 1.060 OPS).
That minor league success did not translate at all in his first partial season with the Marlins (11 R, 17 H, 3 HR, .157 BA, .260 OBP, .278 SLG, .538 OPS). However, he flashed some interesting power-hitting potential and demonstrated an understanding of what it takes to hold down the job defensively.
Sandy Alcantara may have been one of the best pitchers in baseball during September/October, and he didn’t do it all by himself. Alex Jackson was his catcher for 6 games down the stretch. Their results together were unbelievable: 45.0 IP, 4 ER, 0.80 ERA, 51 SO.
Jackson has a lot of power waiting to be unleashed, but like many other Marlins players this season, he often hurt himself with an impatient approach and got himself into bad hitter’s counts. Going after the right pitches is so important for him.
Jackson had a max exit velocity of 114.3 miles per hour, which was one of the highest numbers on the team. On the other hand, according to FanGraphs, his 25.6% swinging strike rate was the worst in all of baseball among players with at least 100 plate appearances. Guys like Javier Báez and Salvador Pérez show that it is possible to overcome lots of whiffs to do well, but Jackson still has a long way to go just to get into the same ballpark as them.
On the defensive end, Jackson’s presence seemed to scare opponents away from running. As a Marlin, he caught 3 runners attempting to steal and there were only 10 attempts in his 260 2⁄3 innings behind the plate. Jackson was consistent when it comes to blocking and was charged with only 2 passed balls. His pitch framing was shaky on pitches up in the zone, but okay everywhere else.
Until Jackson can truly get it going offensively, he is at best a backup option for the team. He has nothing left to prove at AAA, but it was clear from August-October that MLB pitchers can strike him out without breaking a sweat. Based on what we have seen, you can’t expect him to be a part of the Marlins’ long-term plans. In the meantime, history suggests that Jackson will be given more chances entering his age-26 season to prove he can contribute, just like Alfaro and Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra and Isan Díaz before him.
Right now, it’s a tough look for the Marlins to trade away a valuable veteran in Duvall only to get such a flawed player in return.