Written by Mark Firkins Photo by Twitter.com
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jeremiah Jackson, the June 2018 2nd round draft selection by the Los Angeles Angels.
Jeremiah is an exciting young Short Stop from Mobile, Alabama who by his sophomore year of high school had committed to playing college baseball at Mississippi State. However, when the Angels came calling with the 57th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Jeremiah knew it was time for his professional debut.
He’s best described by most scouts and publications as an all around complete player. He features an athletic build and is smooth defensively. He has good range, a strong arm and quick hands making him an ideal double play man at SS. He gets good extension when swinging the bat, makes solid contact, and hits to all parts of the field. He flashes full power when he sees his pitch.
Jeremiah was very polite and personal on the phone. He was polished and honest in his answers about his new life in professional baseball. The following interview took place on Wednesday, July 18th.
MF: Congratulations on your selection by the Angels. They have one of the finest development, training, and coaching staffs in baseball. I can see you excelling in their environment.
JJ: Thank you, it’s a dream come true. I’ve always admired the Angels and now I get to call them my team and hopefully one day my teammates. I am blessed to be in the same organization as Albert Pujols, Upton, Trout, and so many other baseball greats.
MF: You just dropped a few, but can you tell me some of the other big names the Angels have brought into camp and you’ve been introduced to?
JJ: I’ve met so many great people. Jose Molina, Alexis Gomez. I was invited to Anaheim and was introduced to everyone, Mike Scioscia, Eric Hinske, Pujols, Trout, Kinsler, Upton, everyone, my head was spinning meeting everyone being so young.
MF: My head would’ve been spinning as well in that group.
MF: What’s the best advice you’ve been given by someone in the Angels organization that you truly take to heart?
JJ: Everyone is consistent with their message. Work hard and be dedicated. You have to work to get to the next level, nothing is ever given. You have to go out and play every day as if it may be your last day.
MF: You’re playing with and against a great diverse mix of young professionals, new draft picks, international players, and some players with a year or two of professional experience. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced so far?
JJ: You’re right, the talent level is amazing. There are a lot of Latino players and we all have to learn to communicate with each other. We don’t all speak the same language so we have to get to know each other, learn each others signals, use our body language. It’s been an adjustment working together with the 2nd basemen on defense. I’m picking up and understand some Spanish and he’s learning English. We’re all growing together and getting to know each other out on the field together.
MF: Speaking of defense, tell me something about defense you’ve found challenging?
JJ: Working out that communication with my 2nd baseman has been the first. The game is speedier. I take a lot of reps with the defense coaches. I take about 50 reps in practice with the coaches hitting it as hard as they can.
MF: With such a deep and talented pool of pitching prospects on all teams and with young pitchers most likely on a smaller pitch count, you’re seeing 3-5 pitchers per game. Do you find hitters have the disadvantage facing so many frequent pitching changes?
JJ: The pitchers always have the advantage, no matter what level or how many pitchers you may bat against each game. They know what pitch they’re throwing, you don’t. I try to pay attention to the pitcher in his warm ups, read him and look for anything different in his delivery. Once I see a curve or change up I try to remember something in his wind up that I can use so I can recognize it the next time I see it. The coaches tell you what to look for in certain situations and certain counts. I always try to stay ahead in the count, be aggressive, and try not to get behind in a count giving the pitcher back the advantage.
MF: How hard of an adjustment has it been for you swinging a wood bat now in a professional league?
JJ: I’ve trained with a wood bat since high school. I’ve used it in the cages and during BP. I started training with wood very young in case this day ever came. It did and I’m so grateful that I decided to train that way.
MF: You’re batting .295 so far with some extra base hits and a HR. I’d say your training has paid off.
MF: What brands of bats do you prefer?
JJ: Right now my gamers are Marucci. I use an AP 5 model. I also have some Dove Tail and Victus bats that are 271 models that I like.
MF: Did you know that you are the first middle infielder from an Alabama high school to be drafted within the first three rounds of the MLB draft since 1982? Do you know who the 1982 pick was?
JJ: Bo Jackson was the last Alabama pick back then.
MF: Overall, what’s it like being a professional baseball player in the Angels organization?
JJ: Awesome. I play baseball for a living, an absolute dream come true. I love this game and I get to play and improve my game every day. I can’t thank the Angels enough for this opportunity.
MF: I’m an old school guy who still gets the most out of my writing by talking with the players, visiting the ballpark and seeing them in action. I still pay more attention stat lines like AVG, RBI, OBP, FPCT. What do you think about all of the new stat categories, sabr metrics, and technology that a computer can figure out about a player without ever seeing him play?
JJ: The game is always changing. All I can do is work hard and give my best every day. At the end of the game the numbers are what they are. Technology is great though. It has really improved my swing and allowed me to see and learn new things about that part of my game.
MF: In a lot of the minor leagues the players can’t afford their own apartments or can’t find short term rentals, and therefore live with host families in that community. What’s your living situation in the Arizona League?
JJ: The Angels provide us with two bedroom apartments. Right now I have just one roommate and that’s what I expected with an apartment like that. It was funny when I first got out here. I moved into my place and there were already two other players living there as well. So four of us shared a two bedroom unit. That didn’t last too long though. Those guys were promoted to A ball and now it’s just me and my teammate.
MF: You’re from Mobile, Alabama. A long way from home at a young age. What do you miss most about home?
JJ: My family & friends. I grew up in my Grand Dad’s and Mom’s house and they took good care of me. I’m on my own now so I’m responsible for myself. I have to make sure I get up on time, follow my schedule, eat right, and take care of myself.
MF: After a long day of practice, instruction, then a night game, what do you do to unwind and relax in your limited free time?
JJ: My days are long. I’m at the field most days around noon. We take fielding practice, bating practice, shower, eat, then get ready for our game which usually starts at 7:00. I don’t get home until around 11:30 and when I do, I usually shower then get my sleep and rest because I have to do it again the next day.
MF: Do you have any good luck charms, rituals, or baseball superstitions?
JJ: I used to. If I had a good game maybe I’d wear the same socks or compression sleeves again, but I’ve outgrown that. I work and play hard, what happens, happens out there.
MF: I’d like to ask you some quick and fun baseball questions. Answer as many as you can as fast as you can, ready?
– Favorite sport other than baseball?
– Day games or night games?
– Spring baseball or Fall baseball
– Favorite ballpark food or treat?
– Favorite MLB ballpark?
– Favorite baseball player?
– Why is it called the foul pole?
I don’t know, it’s a sight line for me. It’s fair if you hit it.
MF: Jeremiah, thank you for taking the time to speak with me and Real McCoy Minors. It was truly a pleasure chatting with you. Best wishes to you this season in Arizona and your future with the Angels. I hope someday our paths cross at a game and if they do I’ll be sure to introduce myself.
JJ: The pleasure was all mine. You guys do a great job. I look forward to meeting you someday.
Jeremiah Jackson. Professional, polite, mature beyond 18 years old, and hopefully one day in the near future; The Los Angeles Angels Short Stop, teammate of Mike Trout and his idol, Angels 1b/DH, Albert Pujols.