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Attention seems to find Jackson

08/08/2013, 11:22am PDT
By John Maffei

Rancho Bernardo catcher shuns spotlight that comes with being a top pro prospect.

Rancho Bernardo's Alex Jackson is swarmed by teammates after hitting a home run in the San Diego Section Division I championship game.

All the attention bothers Alex Jackson.

“I’d rather be in the background,” the Rancho Bernardo High catcher said.

It’s hard to hide, though, when you’re as talented as Jackson.

Going into his senior season, he has 36 career home runs.

“Jackson has that rare power we’re all looking for,” one major league scout said. “Plus, he plays a premium position.”

Jackson is one of 50 stars slated to play in Sunday’s Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park.

Last year’s game produced 13 first-round draft picks.

Perfect Game has Jackson rated as the No. 1 high school prospect in the 2014 draft.

“My summer has been a great experience,” Jackson said. “But I try and not get too caught up in all the talk, all the attention. If I do, it’s only going to bring me down. The attention can get overwhelming.

“I get to do what we all loved to do as little boys — play baseball. It doesn’t get any better than to wake up and know I’m going to go out and play baseball. So I refuse to put a lot of stress on myself.”

Jackson has been all over the country this summer — Georgia for the World Wood Bat Tournament, Minnesota for the Perfect Game Nationals, Georgia again for tournaments with his summer team the San Diego Show.

He just returned from Long Beach, where he played in the Area Code Games with more than 200 pro scouts and college recruiters in attendance. And he’s slated to play in the Under Armour All-American Game on Aug. 24 in Wrigley Field.

Rancho Bernardo has produced three major leaguers — Cole Hamels, Hank Blalock and Danny Putnam as well first-round draft picks Allan Dykstra, John Drennen, Matt Wheatland, Scott Heard and Jaime Jones.

Second baseman Gosuke Katoh was taken in the second round in June by the Yankees.

“We’ve had some great players,” said RB baseball coach Sam Blalock. “Alex has a chance to be right there with the best we’ve had.”

This summer, Jackson has worked at improving his catching skills.

“Catching prospects normally appear in two forms: Throwers who can’t hit or hitters who can’t throw,” said SI.com’s Dave Perkins. “Jackson is the rare backstop who does both at the highest level.

“He has tremendous power and the ability to get the ball to second base in 1.8 seconds, which is above the major league average.”

Jackson has also been tried at third base and the outfield this summer.

“If it was up to me,” Jackson said, “I’d take catching or the outfield over third base.”

While the draft will be the talk of the Perfect Game Classic, Jackson has given a commitment to play at Oregon after considering offers from UCLA and Arizona.

“The draft gets brought up a lot,” Jackson said. “I have no idea, not a clue what’s going to happen.

“Oregon or the draft? Right now, I’m leaning toward college because the coaches and team are amazing there. I felt comfortable there.

“Whatever decision I make, I’ll get to keep playing baseball.”

What: Perfect Game All-American Classic
Where: Petco Park
When: Sunday, 5 p.m.
Format: East and West all-star squads compete in the 11th annual game showcasing the nation’s top high school seniors of 2014
Local players: Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic), Sean Bouchard (Cathedral Catholic), Alex Jackson (Rancho Bernardo)
Local coaches: East’s Eddie Johnson (Mater Dei Catholic), West’s Manny Hermosillo (Montgomery) and Luis Lorenzana
TV: MLB Network
Radio: ESPN 1700
Tickets: $6
Proceeds: Benefit Rady Children’s Hospital
Online: pgallamerican.com


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