Conor JacksonTo the surprise of many, Orioles minor league outfielder Conor Jackson announced his retirement on Sunday afternoon. “He just said at this point, his heart wasn’t in it right now and that was it,” Norfolk Tides manager Ron Johnson told MASNSports.com’s Roch Kubatko. “It wasn’t a physical issue. He’s been playing down here. It’s just a personal decision he made and I’ve got a lot of respect for Conor Jackson.”

Jackson signed a minor league deal with the O’s in September and just missed making the team out of Spring Training after posting an impressive slash line of .302/.327/.528 with three home runs and six RBIs in 22 games. The 30-year-old had just five hits in 25 at-bats at Triple-A Norfolk.

Edward Creech of MLBTradeRumors.com points out that Jackson was drafted 19th overall by the Diamondbacks in 2003. Baseball America ranked him as their 17th best prospect entering the 2006 season and he hit 292/.371/.451 from 2006-2008 for Arizona.

Jackson then contracted Valley Fever that offseason and was never the same. His last MLB action came in 2011 when appeared in 114 games for the A’s and Red Sox, the most since his illness, hitting .244/.310/.341. The 30-year-old spent the entire 2012 campaign at Triple-A in the White Sox’s organization recording a line of .277/.363/.434.

I was sad to hear that news of his retirement. It was fun watching Jackson produce for the Orioles this spring and I liked the idea of having a proven guy down in Norfolk that could put pressure on some struggling bats in Baltimore.