Braves acquire hard-throwing righty Luke Jackson in trade with Rangers
The Atlanta Braves were quiet at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Oxon Hills, Md., but the front office stayed busy. On Thursday evening, it reached an agreement with the Texas Rangers to acquire hard-throwing right-hander Luke Jackson in exchange for young pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, was the 45th overall selection in the 2010 draft — five spots ahead of Jenkins in the first round — who made 15 appearances with the Rangers' parent club.
The right-hander flashes a fastball sitting in the high-90s and touches triple digits to go with three complementary pitches in need of refinement, but his biggest concern is command. In 18 innings pitched, Jackson walked five batters per nine with an unsustainable home-run rate (2.50). His ERA over that span was 8.50.
He profiles as a higher-ceiling relief piece with better pure "stuff" than Jenkins, whose role in a crowded rotation race was uncertain entering the season. MLB Pipeline listed Jackson as the Rangers' No. 15 prospect.
Jackson could factor into Atlanta's bullpen competition with a breakout spring, but with options and years of club control remaining, the Braves will likely give him the opportunity to work through his command concerns at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Jenkins was the first major prospect acquired in general manager John Coppolella and president of baseball operations John Hart's rebuild.
As the prospect piece in the Jason Hayward-Shelby Miller blockbuster in 2014, Jenkins worked his way up through the minor-league ranks with solid numbers before hitting a wall in his rookie season. The 24-year-old struggled with his own command and strikeout issues, posting a 5.88 ERA with worse peripherals.
Jenkins follows Chris Ellis, John Gant, Max Povse and Rob Whalen as mid-level prospects with limited ceilings the Braves have traded in the past 11 days.
The left-handed Feigl was quickly climbing the organization ranks before undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2015. The 25-year-old was a bargain-basement find for Atlanta's scouting department — and Bobby Cox — after tearing his labrum and going undrafted, and he could push his way into Texas' bullpen mix sooner rather than later.