In trading Chase De Jong to the Mariners, the Dodgers dealt from a position of strength to add major league roster flexibility and worked to shore up an organization weakness up the middle, though they likely moved the superior player in the deal. De Jong in turn finds a soft landing spot in Seattle, where favorable parks and less competition could help him realize his big league career. For Los Angeles, the Dodgers acquire a shortstop in Drew Jackson that strengthens the Dodgers depth at a position of weakness, and an enticing raw arm in reliever Aneurys Zabala. Perhaps of most immediate importance, the Dodgers also created an opening on the 40-man roster in moving De Jong, but a long-term return might be tougher to gain from this move.
Drew Jackson was my 200th-rated draft prospect in 2015 as a shortstop out of Stanford before some late additions to the rankings. In reviewing him as a prospect, Jackson has all the physical tools you want to see in a shortstop — quick-twitch athleticism, elite speed, and arm strength. However, Jackson was light as a hitter in college and despite some swing improvements with Seattle, his bat is still a major question mark.
Jackson’s prospect status is largely buoyed by his defensive skills, where he should be able to stay at shortstop. He isn’t overly smooth and fluid with his movements, but he’s plenty quick and can make any throw. Should the Dodgers want to try him as a utility player, his arm strength should carry over to center field, where his plus speed should also be an asset.
As a hitter, Jackson lacks the power his athletic 6’2, 200 lb.-frame would suggest. His offensive game is derived too much on putting the ball on the ground and legging out hits. He has shown some swing improvements from his Stanford video, but his mechanics are a little stiff and slow. He’s already 23, so a complete swing tear down may be tough to complete at this point, but Jackson’s offensive game will need to be retooled to see him as a viable major league candidate.
Despite his age, Jackson was overmatched offensively for the Arizona Fall League, and may similarly struggle in the Texas League without the proper offensive adjustments. There is no urgency to move Jackson any quicker up the ladder with Corey Seager at the major league level, so the Dodgers can still take it slow developmentally with Jackson. As an added benefit, his defensive should be an asset to the pitching prospects at the Double-A level.
Aneurys Zabala is a greater unknown, having spent two years in the Arizona Rookie League as a hard-throwing reliever. Zabala looks much larger than his listed 6’2, 175 lbs. and he delivers high-90s fastballs with little effort. Zabala’s arm action is long and his slot and release point will waver from pitch to pitch. Zabala’s curveball shows promise, but given the inconsistencies in his delivery, it doesn’t always appear sharp on video. He’s only twenty, and given his stuff, he will have a greater margin of error as he develops, but at this point, he remains a raw arm.
Jackson rates as the Dodgers’ 29th-best prospect, with Zabala checking in at 50th. Here is the revised list, with the traded De Jong and Jose De Leon included.