Jackson reassigned after big moment
After hitting grand slam Tuesday, prospect sent to Minors camp
TAMPA, Fla. -- Austin Jackson's Grapefruit League grand slam earned him congratulations from Reggie Jackson, but they didn't have much time to celebrate. Moments after leaving the field, the Yankees prospect learned that he had been reassigned to Minor League camp on Tuesday.
Though the bittersweet evening ended with a closed-door meeting in manager Joe Girardi's office, the younger Jackson said he had accomplished what he intended in camp.
"That was the goal coming into Spring Training, just to get in the eyes of Joe a little bit and show him what I'm capable of doing," Jackson said. "I'm going to work hard in the Minor Leagues, get some more at-bats and accomplish some more things before I'm ready to play at the Major League level."
Through his four seasons in the Yankees' farm system, the 22-year-old prospect has struck up a Cooperstown friendship with Jackson, a special adviser in New York's front office.
Before Jackson connected on a full-count offering from the Red Sox's Devern Hansack, sending it high into the night above the left-field foul pole, he'd heard Reggie's voice chirping, "Get him! Get him!" from the home dugout at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
"It's one of those times," Reggie Jackson was saying later, "where a guy hits a home run and you feel so good, you feel like you hit one."
Jackson's career total will stand at 563, but he was still strutting around like a proud papa.
"He's been coming to pretty much every level I've been at, just helping me out when I'm down a little bit," Austin Jackson said. "It's a good thing. He comes back and works with me in the cage, and gets me back to where I need to be when I'm struggling a little bit. It's good to have a Hall of Famer working with you."
Jackson said that he has improved since playing in the Arizona Fall League last year, where he had been "drifting" at the plate and swinging at pitches in the dirt. He made adjustments to help with recognizing offspeed pitches and being more aggressive on balls he can handle.
Ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees' top prospect coming into this year, Jackson hit .333 (12-for-36) with a double, triple, three home runs and 10 RBIs in 23 spring games.
"I think it was night and day compared to last year's camp," Girardi said. "The adjustments that he's made, he's playing heads-up baseball. He's made a lot of progress in a year. He's an exciting young player."
Jackson spent all of last season at Double-A Trenton, where he was selected as an All-Star and batted .285 with nine home runs and 69 RBIs in 131 games. He will be ticketed to begin the year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and depending on what transpires, Girardi said that the Yankees could see him sooner than some might expect.
"He could be here," Girardi said. "It's possible that we could see him at some point this year. You never know."
Jackson was one of three roster moves the Yankees made after the game. First baseman Juan Miranda and infielder Eduardo Nunez were also sent to the Minor League complex, reducing the number of players in camp to 39.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.