- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 190 lb.
Outfielder Jackson Melián was signed as a free agent on July 3, 1996 at the age of 16 by the New York Yankees. He received a $1.6 million signing bonus, which was a record at the time for an international free agent. He was named the Yankees #3 prospect by tools-focused Baseball America before he even played a professional baseball game. Jackson was named after Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson as his father Vincent was a longtime Yankee fan. He was compared to Ruben Rivera, then considered the top prospect in the Yankee system by Baseball America.
1997-1999: Early years in the Yankee system
Melián made his debut in 1997 with the Rookie GCL Yankees. In 213 at-bats, he batted .273/~.326/.376 with 3 home runs, and 9 stolen bases in 10 tries. His 110 putouts led GCL outfielders as he showed good range. Baseball America picked him as the #6 prospect in the circuit. Despite a less-than-jaw-dropping season, he was named the Yankees' #2 prospect and baseball's #40 prospect after the season according to Baseball America. He moved up to Single-A with the Greensboro Bats in 1998. He batted .255/~.315/.353 with 8 home runs and 120 strike outs. He stole 15 bases, but also got caught 12 times. While Baseball America continued to boast about how he impressed scouts, he didn't make the SAL's top 10 prospect list, which featured four other outfielders including Milton Bradley and Vernon Wells. It was a horrible year personally for Melián as his parents died in a car crash after having watched him play a game. Some have argued that this severe loss caused some of his later struggles on the field.
Jackson began to mature at the plate in 1999. He began to cut down his strikeouts (to 98) and batted .283/.358/.431 with 6 home runs with Single-A Tampa. He stole 11 bases in 18 attempts and his 13 triples were tops in the Yankees organization.
2000-2002: Bouncing around AA
Still only 20 years old, Melián made his AA debut in 2000 in Norwich and was selected to play in the 2000 Futures Game, going 0 for 3 as the starting right fielder for the World team. His power and speed numbers began to improve as he had 9 home runs and 17 steals in 18 attempts, but his average and on-base percentage fell to .252 and .299 respectively. He slugged .400 and fielded just .954 in the outfield. In July, he was traded by the Yankees with 3B Drew Henson, LHP Ed Yarnall and RHP Brian Reith to the Cincinnati Reds for LHP Denny Neagle and OF Mike Frank. He only played two games in the Reds system that year, going 1 for 6 for the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Jackson returned to AA in 2001 with the Reds with the Chattanooga Lookouts. He hit a career-high 16 home runs, but batted only .237/.311/.401 and was caught in 7 of 17 steal attempts. Defensively, he tied for the Southern League lead with 15 outfield assists but was also one shy of error leader Joe Borchard with 11. He played for two more Southern League teams in 2002, the Huntsville Stars and West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, after being picked up on waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers and traded to the Chicago Cubs for C Robert Machado. He hit .223/.362/.364 in 56 games for Huntsville and .308/.375/.432 for West Tenn. His overall line read .270/.369/.402 with 20 steals in 29 tries and 125 strikeouts in 418 AB.
2003- : Recent seasons
In 2003, Jackson batted .258/.318/.397 in 79 games for the Diamond Jaxx and made his AAA debut, hitting just .178/.226/.279 in 43 contests for the Iowa Cubs. Melián signed with the Yankees as a free agent following the 2003 season and again split time between AA (.264/.343/.438 in 41 games for the Trenton Thunder) and AAA (.300/.400/.567 in 11 contests for the Columbus Clippers. In June, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named later. Jackson was ineffective with the Greenville Braves, producing at a .193/.271/.335 clip.
Jackson played the 2005 and 2006 seasons in the Detroit Tigers organization. In the first year, he only played seven games for the Erie SeaWolves, batting .261/.280/.348. In 2006, he batted .269/.323/.478 for Erie with 15 homers and made brief appearances with the Lakeland Tigers and Toledo Mud Hens.
Through 2006, Jackson Melián has a career line of .254/.329/.394 in 1,000 career minor league games over 10 seasons. He has yet to appear in a Major League game, but will only be 27 years old in 2007. He has resigned with the Tigers organization for 2007.