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The Big Trade: The Pitchers

Received LHP Zach Jackson and RHP Robert Bryson from Milwaukee

If I were to rank the four players received in the deal, Jackson would be #4 (despite being the only one of the four to appear in a major-league game) and Bryson #3.

Zach Jackson was drafted in the Sandwich Round of the 2004 Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. His stuff out of college was a fastball (low 90s), slider, and change. He was a pretty big guy (6'5", 220 lbs), especially for a left-handed pitcher, and one of his strong points was his durability. He struggled in the New York-Penn League, but rocketed all the way up to AAA in 2005. He appeared in the Futures Game that season, but struggled in AAA, which at the time could have been chalked up to being rushed.

The Blue Jays traded him, along with RHP David Bush and OF Gabe Gross to the Milwaukee Brewers for 1B Lyle Overbay. He was subsequently ranked by Baseball America as the Brewers' 10th-best prospect. Jackson made 7 unimpressive starts for the Brewers in the middle of the 2006 season, allowing 48 hits and 26 runs in 38.1 innings of work. He was optioned back to Nashville in mid-July with Tomo Ohka coming off the Disabled List, and finished the season poorly. He made all 28 starts of the 2007 season with Nashville, showing no signs of progress.

Before the 2008 season, he developed a split change to try to keep hitters off his fastball, and though he got more ground balls, saw his strikeout rates tank and hit rates skyrocket. He made a couple appearances for the Brewers, but I imagine that he was promoted merely because the Brewers needed an arm in the bullpen.

Jackson's a project. There isn't much about his stat line that recommends him for any major-league contribution this season. Perhaps a major mechanical overhaul is in order. Between Jackson and Jeff Weaver, Buffalo pitching coach Scott Radinsky is going to be a busy man over the next couple weeks.

Robert Bryson was selected by the Brewers in the 31st Round of the 2006 Draft. He elected to go to a junior college, and then signed with the Milwaukee organization the next spring. He started his professional career in the Pioneer League, and dominated his peers both in the bullpen and as a starter. This season, he's retained the high strikeout rates (73 in 55 innings), but has a mediocre ERA. 

The reason the Indians had an interest in him is his upside. Bryson's fastball sits in the mid-90s, and he has a very good slider; that combination screams relief ace. As with any young arm that far down in the system, the risk of him not even making the majors is likewise high. Remember the name, but also understand he has a long way to go.