Ryan Jackson enters his fifth season in the Reds organization, his third as the hitting coach at Double-A Carolina. He began his professional coaching career in 2007 as the hitting coach at Class A Sarasota and performed those same duties for the Sarasota Reds in 2008. Originally drafted by the Marlins in 1994, Jackson enjoyed an 11-year professional career that included parts of 4 seasons at the Major League level with Florida (1998), Seattle (1999) and Detroit (2001-02). In his Major League debut on 3/31/98 vs the Cubs, he collected 2 hits and 2 RBI. Jackson played collegiately at Duke University. Ryan, 39, resides in Sarasota, Florida. He has 2 sons, Jakob, 8, and Luke, 5.
Carolina Mudcats: Having attended Cardinal Mooney High School in Sarasota, what was it like to coach for the Sarasota Reds in 2008 and 2009?
Ryan Jackson: It was very comfortable to be in my hometown and coaching with a childhood friend (Joe Ayrault). You really can't beat rolling out of your own bed and driving to the ballpark. In 2007, we had an amazing team to start the season. Jay Bruce would be the first future major leaguer that I would have the opportunity to work with.
Mudcats: As a Duke student from 1990 to 1994, were you or any of your friends one of the Cameron Crazies?
Jackson: No....but they're quite entertaining
Mudcats: Do you still follow Duke sports?
Jackson: I still get nervous about Duke-UNC basketball games...I'm looking for the football program to take a step in the right direction...and Sean McNally is now the head baseball coach. We played together on a couple of successful Duke teams (1993, 1994)
Mudcats: What are some of your favorite moments from college?
Jackson: We had a continuation game to be played at Jack Coombs field against UNC...I ended up pitching the final four innings and got the win....I also hit a walk-off grand slam in extra innings to sweep the doubleheader...good times
Mudcats: Having been a two-way player in college, do you believe that your experience on the mound helped you with your approach at the plate?
Jackson: Yes...It helped me identify how the pitchers were trying to get me out...I know how I would've pitched myself...
Mudcats: After not pitching in a game for almost six years, what was it like to toe the rubber back in 2000 and throw one inning of shutout baseball?
Jackson: I got an adrenaline rush...I was with Durham pitching against the Bats...Pat Borders was catching...Error between Aubrey Huff's legs, another groundball to Aubrey (double play) and got a broken bat fly out to center...Dealt!!
Mudcats: Having gone to college in Durham and coached just outside Raleigh, what are some of your favorite things about the greater Triangle area?
Jackson: The rivalry it creates...Duke, UNC, NC State...It's a beautiful thing...
Mudcats: In your eleven seasons in professional baseball, were there any coaches that you played for who have influenced the way that you now coach your players?
Jackson: There are so many people that have made contributuions to my career...Learned a lot from them mechanically and mentally... but I coach with this in mind..."teach/coach people as they'd like to be taught/coached"...Everybody is different...
Mudcats: In your experience as both a minor league player and now, for the past four years, as a minor league hitting coach, what are some of the adjustments that you find many minor league players having to make as they try to work their way through the farm system?
Jackson: 2 things come to mind: First a player is engrossed in the mechanics(usually at the lower levels)...second, they transition to the mental part of the game (staying focused, studying pitchers)...A mechanically sound hitter that has great mental make-up...sounds like a major league hitter...
Mudcats: Up to this point in your career, what are some of your favorite moments as a minor league coach?
Jackson: I'm starting to see guys prosper in the big leagues...I've had the opportunity to work with Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, Juan Francisco and Chris Heisey... The "now" is my favorite moment...