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Although he’s still highly unlikely to break camp with the big club thanks to the need for some seasoning at AAA and the Chicago Cubs’ probable desire to net an additional year of control, Brett Jackson is turning heads in Mesa.

Jackson, 23, is the Cubs’ top prospect, and is expected to be a mainstay in the big team’s outfield as soon as the second half of 2012. But he’s making a push to accelerate that time line.

“We’ve all been around long enough to know where kids like that, guys that are pretty special players with speed, power, arm – the five-tool players – are ready to play,” Dale Sveum said of Jackson. “They make [for] some tough decisions down the stretch too. He’s that kind of guy. You can see it in his eyes. He’s here to impress and make this team, not to go back to the minor leagues.”

Jackson tore up the Cubs’ intrasquad games, and saw some action later in yesterday’s Spring opener. If he has his way, he’ll keep producing all Spring – but he knows that, even doing that, he might not make the Major League club right away.

“I’ve said it before, the things I can control are what I do every day,” Jackson said. “I’m not going to make the team right now, today, but every day is a piece to that puzzle and I will keep working until that day comes. And when that day comes I will keep working there.”

I have no doubt that Sveum has input on the makeup of the Cubs’ 25-man roster at the end of the Spring, and, given his praise of Jackson, he might be inclined to carry the kid. But, where there is an incremental difference between, say, someone like Marlon Byrd and Jackson, even if Sveum prefers Jackson, I doubt he starts in the bigs. I’m not even sure a Byrd trade, or an Alfonso Soriano trade, would guarantee Jackson a spot on the 25-man roster out of camp.

  • Packman711

    What’s better long term, playing every day in AAA, or pinch running once a week. No way he should get called up until he gets serious time to play.

    • Mike

      I’m hopeful that the new staff won’t pull a Quade with regards to guys who get called up.

    • CubFan Paul

      trade Byrd to the Nats or Indians

  • a_mazz_ing

    What really impressed me where his two bombs were off LH pitching. I know it was just inter-squad, but still good to see him hit LHP.

  • die hard

    He could make final 25 and get 250 AB if more teams have injuries and need OF like Byrd or Johnson. A 5 OF rotation can work

  • Internet Random

    “I’ve said it before, the things I can control are what I do every day,” Jackson said. “I’m not going to make the team right now, today, but every day is a piece to that puzzle and I will keep working until that day comes. And when that day comes I will keep working there.”

    I like Bert Jackson more every time he speaks.

    • TWC

      “I like Bert Jackson more every time he speaks.”

      Heh.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    No, no, no.
    There is ZERO reason to start him on the 25 man roster and (unless I’m mistaken) there is no need for him to even be on the 40 man roster either.

    • CubFan Paul

      why? Are the Cubs pinching pennies?

      • CubFan Paul

        actually Ricketts has been pinching pennies/being cheap since he bought the team. ugh

        • TWC

          Paully, I’ve missed your sour countenance.  Glad you’re back to cheer us up.

        • Wilbur

          Interesting approach to blogging, ask a question and then answer it yourself. A bit Sophistic though …

      • Chaz

        No it’s an extra year of control with him when it will matter. Unlike this season

        • CubFan Paul

          that’s counting pennies at the cost of the team winning/being better

          • DocWimsey

            The point is not to make the Cubs better in 2012, but to make them better in 2016, 2017, etc. The Cubs are multiple players away from being a 0.500 team, never mind a contender, so management has to think in terms of long-term investment.

            • CubFan Paul

              so. BJax can be signed to an extension anytime after this year if they deem him worthy of being a long term asset

              starting the season in the majors with Jaramillo&Sveum as coaches trumps all else

              • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                That assumes BJ would sign that extension.
                -
                He’s not ready for major league pitching. It’s that simple. When you strike out as much as he did in AAA, work still needs to be done.

                • CubFan Paul

                  he’s been working during the offseason too. 2011 ended and he’s been working hard since like samardzija. no one knows if he’s ready til he does it.

                  & almost all pre arbritration players sign the extension for security versus only making $450K a year

    • Andrew

      There are more problems than his clock starting right now. There is nowhere in the outfield he can start right now. Bringing him up would be making the same mistake we made with colvin. He’d be seeing playing time once every three games and not actually improving like hed be in AAA. If we trade Byrd then I say bring him up but if not have him stay in AAA.

  • Rich G

    Meanwhile, Josh Vitters saved a helluva lot of money on his car insurance by switching to Geico.

  • Deer

    BJax and Rizzo are two of the few cards Theo/Jed can play to draw fan interest and show progress when it gets bad by late May. Better not to waste it in April.

    • King Jeff

      Yeah, because that’s the reason the Cubs aren’t promoting them to the majors right away. I’m glad that you have that insight and are here to clear that up for everyone.

      • Deer

        When the Cubs are 15-20 games under come June and a top prospect gets called up, fans will start watching again and it could spark the team. Not the main reason, but it’s a factor. You’re welcome

        • DocWimsey

          It’s only the hardcore fans who really are paying attention to the minor leaguers. Joe and Jane Fan (for almost any team) really know very little about the minor leaguers. This might even be more true of Cubs’ fans simply because the farm system has produced so few everyday players over the last 20+ years that nobody expects the minor leaguers to do much.

        • King Jeff

          As Doc says, no new fans are going to start watching the Cubs because a few guys that they’ve never heard of get called up. Until they are in the majors and producing everyday, they will not draw fans to the stadiums or viewers on tv. The people excited to see Jackson, Rizzo, and others, are people who are going to watch and follow the Cubs regardless of where they are in the standings. I would almost believe that they were being held back for contractual reasons over believing that they are being held back so that they can be drawing cards later in the year.

        • http://dailybigten.com DBT

          I’d say it has an impact. I started watching the Cubs more closely again because of Castro.

          • DocWimsey

            Yes, but look at where you are posting. Joe and Jane Baseball-Fan don’t read newspages like this, never mind post on them. The difference between what we anticipate and what they anticipate probably is like the difference between what (say) a Tolkien fan expects from The Hobbit movie and Joe & Jane Moviegoer expects from the same movie.

            Now, once in a while, there is a much-hyped rookie debut. For example, there was Strasburg’s debut in 2010; chances are good that Bryce Harper’s will be the same. However, guys like Mike Trout, Mike Stanton and Mike Moore had debuts that attracted much (much!) less attention. The latter really is the norm, it seems.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    It would be really surprising if Jackson opens the season in Chicago. Even though high strike out numbers are likely to be a part of his game, an extra half a season in Iowa working on being selectively aggressive won’t hurt him at all.

    That early season Iowa lineup is going to be fun to watch. Rizzo, Vitters, Jackson, Clevenger, and Ridling all have 20+ HR power, and all five of those guys are likely to play regularly (assuming Ridling moves to left full time until Rizzo is called up).

    • CubFan Paul

      oh no! you don’t have Clevenger making the team out of camp to be Soto’s backup/LH bench bat?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I think Castillo will beat him. If Soto is traded, then I think we’ll see Castillo / Jaramillo. But Clevenger (if he isn’t dealt) should be the backup in the near future.

    • King Jeff

      I agree, just like the Smokies team a few years ago with Castro/Colvin/Cashner and others, the Iowa team will be fun to watch this year.

    • DocWimsey

      BJax already is “selectively aggressive” and that is part of the reason why his K totals are high. The Sox always were near the top of the AL in both slugging and OBP while being way up there in K’s, too.

      That being written, BJax’s K totals are alarming even for this approach: he’s very good at selecting which pitches to try to drive, but not so good at actually getting his bat on the ball. He likely will be one of those guys with a low BA but an OBP 0.1+ higher than that. (Think Mark Reynolds…..)

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I like Jackson approach and I agree he’ll be a high OBP guy (and by extension a high OPS guy), but his K% has to come down. I think he could stand to be a little more selective than he is, but we’ll get more data on that as he faces tougher pitching in Iowa. I don’t need to see a rate under 20% out of him, but north of 25% is too high for my taste. And right now, I think his rate in the majors would be around 30%.

        That said, I don’t think it’ll take him long. Give him a half a season to adjust to an incremental upgrade in pitching, then bring him to the majors.

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    Until moves are made to reduce the OF we have there is no reason to let BJax start the season in the bigs. If he makes it then all the Campy Scrappy Lovers would be devastated.

    • Turn Two

      I agree with you, however if he is ready, I would say bench whoever you have to in order to get him the everyday job. We have to bring him in when he feels confident and is hitting well to get him off to a solid start and not put the pressure of past cub prospect failures on him. I have seen too much of the bring him up when it fits a convenient time line for the big league club logic and it is to the detriment of the player. If he is someone we are banking on in the future, you let his job center around him, not some vets who want to get their fair number of at bats.

  • Shane

    All i have to say is trade Soriano to baseballs dump yard Oakland A’s we all know Billy Beane likes old on the down player. I say go young now build chemistry now what could it hurt.

  • Cubbies4Life

    I want to watch Jackson for a while at AAA. If he’s got the “fire,” it’ll be there every day until they bring him up. No huge hurry, IMO.

  • Pat

    If the team felt coming into spring training that he needed more time in the minors, then they should definitely not change that plan on some meaningless spring training at bats.

  • djriz

    BJax should not be brought up until he’s sure to play 6 days a week, but an added bonus to him playing in AAA is Vitters. Here’s my prediction: BJax’s and Rizzo’s work ethic will rub off on Vitters and (after a month long adjustment period) he will FINALLY hit like everyone expected and become a top 100 prospect again.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Jackson’s approach to the game has already rubbed off on Vitters, last year in Double A (at least according to the BA Prospect Handbook).  And the numbers back it up.  Vitters did start to show a (slightly) improved approach at the plate in the second half.  Reports are he worked pretty hard on his defense too, and made some decent strides.

    • DocWimsey

      Vitter’s problem is a lack of a batting eye. No “work ethic” can change that: it’s a tool you have or you don’t have.

  • Jeremy

    Do not bring him up until Byrd gets traded and he can play everyday. I do not want another Tyler Colvin situation.

    • DocWimsey

      Colvin and Jackson are major apples and oranges. Colvin was always going to be very limited due to his lack of batting eye: he just got lucky and hit a bunch of HR early, giving people false hope that the projections based on his minor league performances were wrong. BJax also K’s a lot, but unlike Colvin, BJax draws a ton of walks, too. Even if BJax’s batting average is low, he won’t be the out-machine that Colvin will always be.

  • ogyu

    Iowa Cubs are looking like they may be better than Chicago Cubs this year…

  • Michael

    I can’t understand Theo and Jed. They are full of contradictions. Jed has said, “young players are always the way to go. It’s exciting having young players.”

    We all know the Cubs are rebuilding. Why not play him now then? It’s obvious this team is gonna struggle. Why not give fans a reason to be excited to watch this team? The sooner we play the young guys, the sooner we can compete. We need to know if these guys are major leaguers, and not busts. I’d give him the CF job, and trade Byrd.

    If Jed and Theo really practiced what they preached, they’d do it.

    • DocWimsey

      They are practicing what they preach. The Cubs are in rebuilding mode, and that is the *wrong* time to build up service time on a player that you think is going to be important for the Cubs in the future. Delaying Rizzo’s and BJax’s Cub debuts 3 months is not going to delay when they start playing well by 3 months: but it will keep them under team control for another 12 months.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      May as well just play Dan Vogelbach at 1B and Javier Baez at 3B then, right?
      edit: doh, should’ve been below…

  • MichCubFan

    I would probably start him out in AAA and have him work on his strikeout total. Once you can bring him up to get the extra years out of him, then bring him up if he is doing well.

    Same idea with Rizzo, too. Let him work on the things he needs to work on and if he forces his way up then bring him up. His situation is different than Jackson’s when it comes to future financial ramifications but i would keep that in mind as well.

  • Karen P

    I would MUCH rather watch Jackson tear it up in Triple-A with regular playing time and consistent at bats then come up and warm the bench, only playing every 4-5 days with the occasional pinch hit. I understand that Sveum isn’t going to pull a Quade and insist on playing vets over prospects because “they might get us more wins,” but it’d be waste of time and talent to have Jackson be a benchwarmer this season (at least at the start).

  • ferrets_bueller

    Cubs are not going to win this year.  It would be stupid, IMO, to start Jackson, Rizzo, or Vitters at the ML level until midseason.  A total waste of money.

  • Michael

    Playing Vogelbach and Baez is not the same as playing Rizzo and Jackson. Rizzo and Jackson were already playing at AAA. Vogelbach and Baez were only drafted last year.

    Not anywhere close to the same thing.

  • Michael

    Karen, I said give Jackson CF. He wouldn’t be a benc. h warmer. Reading comprehension, people. Learn it.

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