One Rookie Who is Beating the Odds for the Brockton Rox
Jul 05, 2011
By Paul Edwards, SABR member
The Can-Am League is a tough league for rookies who are trying to establish themselves in professional baseball. Although the league mandates that each team carry five rookies on their roster at all times; the pressure on a rookie to succeed is immediate and intense. A slow start or a prolonged slump can spell doom for a once promising career.
Rookies in the Can-Am League face challenges that first-year players in affiliated leagues rarely encounter. Typically, a first-year professional in affiliated baseball will be assigned to play at a level of competition pitting him against other first- and second-year professionals. A Can-Am League rookie, on the other hand, must contend with opponents whose baseball resumes may include noteworthy minor league careers, or even former major leaguers.
Moreover, in affiliated baseball, the emphasis is on player development, not necessarily winning. In the Can-Am League, on the field, winning is the primary objective. Therefore, when a Can-Am League rookie excels, fans take notice. One of those rookies for the Brockton Rox is a tall, left-handed relief pitcher, Reid Jackson.
On a dreary June 12 game between the Rox and the Newark Bears, Jackson was summoned to pitch in the top of the ninth. With the score tied 4-4, and the game on the line, Jackson showed why he is a rookie to keep an eye on in 2011.
Over the next two and one-third innings, Jackson set down all seven Bears that he faced in order. Among the Bears that Jackson dispatched, were former major leaguers Daryle Ward and Tim Raines Jr. Jackson’s assignment that afternoon was a tall order for any pitcher, particularly for an untested rookie.
Jackson attributes his success to having a strong team behind him. He credits his teammates and their stellar defensive skills for allowing him to be comfortable in his role. As for his seemingly unflappable demeanor, he explains, it is all about “pitch and focusing,” and most important of all, “it’s still baseball,” regardless of the opposition.
Jackson graduated with a bachelor's degree in English from Boston’s Suffolk University in 2009, where he was a standout starter for the Rams. During the offseason, Jackson played in the legendary Boston Park League, again as a starter with the Cannon Club. Last year, Jackson spent three months touring Europe and playing professional baseball in Belgium.
In 2011, he turned to coaching, serving as a volunteer assistant with the University of Massachusetts-Boston Beacons baseball team. A fellow Beacons assistant coach and former Brockton Rox outfielder, Mike Conroy, referred Jackson to the Rox for a tryout.
Since then, Jackson has excelled in his new role as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. Perhaps it is too soon tell if Jackson will follow in the footsteps of other Brockton Rox rookie standouts such as center fielder Chris Valencia, the 2009 Can-Am Rookie of the Year.
One thing is for sure: Jackson is holding his own against some tough competition and is off to a strong start in 2011.
Paul Edwards is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Learn more about SABR by visiting http://sabr.org.
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