An often overlooked prospect, Blue Jays bullpen prospect Jackson Rees could play an important role for New Hampshire in 2020
In his year 24 season, Jackson Rees made a name for himself with a breakout season. Signed as a non-drafted free agent on June 13th, 2018, Rees split his rookie season between the Gulf Coast Blue Jays and Bluefield. The former College starter made 16 relief appearances, finishing with a 2-2 record and a 5.06ERA.
The native of Aliso Viejo, CA. was assigned to Lansing to kick off the 2019 season. He dominated with a 2-0 record, 2SV, and 0.36ERA between April and May. Rees struck out 44 and walked 4 in 25.1IP. The reliever was promoted to the Florida State League on June 6th where he would make 25 relief appearances.
The 25-yr-old righty picked up 3 wins, 2 losses, and 7 saves while posting a 0.99ERA. He struck out 44 and walked 11 across 36.1 innings from June to September.
June was this reliever’s least effective month. He made 6 appearances with no record and no saves as a member of the D-Jays bullpen. Rees walked 3 and struck out 13 in 11.0IP for a 1.64ERA and 0.97 WHIP. It was the only month with an ERA over 1.00. July was the only month with a WHIP over 1.00 (not counting a 2 appearance September).
Fangraphs tells us that Jackson Rees did a great job of generating groundballs. He posted a 67.4GB% with Lansing and a 58.6GB% with Dunedin. As a member of the D-Jays, Rees posted a tidy 10.90K/9 and 2.72BB/9 while holding opponents to a .205BA. His 2.46xFIP suggests there was the potential for regression but that is still a very effective RP.
For his efforts, the 6-foot-4 pitcher was assigned to the Arizona Fall League where he further improved his resume. Against some of the best talent in the leagues, Jackson Rees went 1-0 with a 3.24ERA with 13K and 1BB in 7 relief appearances.
After the dust had settled on the 2019 season, the Hawaii alumni struck out 88 total batters while walking 15 in 61.2IP and received the following honors:
- MiLB.com Staff Choice for best RP
- MiLB.com fan’s choice for best RP
- MiLB.com Organization All-Star
- Rising Stars (AFL)
The logical next step for Jackson Rees would be to join the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats bullpen. He should have finished the 2019 season in AA. Rees relies on a 4 and 2-seam fastball (more of a sinker with a high spin rate) and a slider. He will mix in the odd change (to LHB) and curve. His FB is a low to mid-90’s FB and his slider, which he throws a lot, is a plus-plus pitch. Rees has a deceptive delivery with some funk and nothing is straight.
Rees will provide the Fisher Cats with depth at the back end of their bullpen. He will see time pitching in high leverage situation, late in games.
You have to count your blessings any time you can develop an undrafted free agent into a quality minor leaguer. In Jackson Rees, it appears the Blue Jays have a bullpen arm in the making. Rees should get a chance to pitch this spring but we shouldn’t be surprised when he is assigned to the Fisher Cats. His slider maybe MLB ready but he may need to wait his turn.
It is possible he gets assigned to Buffalo but I expect that won’t happen until May or June. Jackson is not Rule V eligible until the end of the 2021 season; therefore, Rees has some time to wait and the Blue Jays can afford to take their time with him in 2020.
My main concern with Rees is his checked injury history. On October 16th, Scott Mitchell wrote (full post):
Rees had to take two medical redshirt years. One due to a shoulder impingement, and one thanks to a stress fracture in his lower-back.
Fingers-crossed this behind him and a decreased workload will keep him healthy.
Featured image credit: R.Mueller
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