Former Braves back-up catcher Alex Jackson is on the move again. On Wednesday the Marlins and Brewers hooked up for a trade that sent Jackson to Milwaukee in exchange for infielder Hayden Cantrelle and pitcher Alexis Ramirez.
The move stemmed from the Brewers originally-planned back-up catcher Pedro Severino getting suspended for 80 games because of PEDs. Just hours before acquiring Jackson, Milwaukee also traded for catcher Victor Caratini (from San Diego), who’ll likely assume the back-up role at the big league level, meaning the former Brave will probably spend the majority of this season at Triple-A Nashville.
Jackson was originally drafted sixth overall by the Mariners back in 2014, though after spending three seasons in Seattle’s minor league system, he was traded to the Braves as part of a deal that netted two prospect pitchers (Rob Whalen and Max Povse) and a PTBNL from Atlanta.
Jackson almost immediately became a trendy young player in the Braves farm system, posting a 143 wRC+ and 114 wRC+ in High-A and Double-A, respectively in 2017, to go with 19 home runs combined in 96 games overall. Problems with strikeouts in Double and Triple-A resulted in a bit of a down year during the 2018 season. But after slugging 28 homers in 85 games with Triple-A Gwinnett in 2019, the then-23-year-old earned a late-season call-up to the majors, where he played in four games with Atlanta. He also played in five more big league games during the shortened 2020 campaign.
With starter Travis d’Arnaud ingrained as the Braves primary catcher, and at the time, both prospects William Contreras and Shea Langeliers deemed as the catchers of the future, Jackson didn’t have much of a path to the majors last season. The former first rounder posted strong numbers with the Stripers in the first-half of 2021 (.287 AVG / 11 HR), somewhat improving his stock, so the Braves included Jackson in a trade with the Marlins to bring back Adam Duvall on the eve of the trade deadline, essentially cashing in on a surplus in catcher depth in order to reinforce an outfield that lost Ronald Acuna Jr. to a season-ending injury and Marcell Ozuna to a potential domestic violence charge. Jackson went on to play in 42 games for Miami down the stretch last year, but a nearly 50% K rate held him to a middling .157 AVG and 55 wRC+. In Spring Training with the Marlins this past month, Jackson finished hitless in five at-bats.
I have to say, it has been a rough recent stretch for Jackson, who’s now 26-years-old. For a guy that once had a chance to at least become a viable back-up catcher in the majors, his profile appears to be more of minor league depth at this point. One thing’s for sure, Jackson will have to cut down on the strikeouts if he’s ever to have another shot at The Show. Hopefully he can figure it out in Nashville.