Brett Jackson continues to defy nearly everything we think we know about baseball by striking out a ton while still being a productive hitter. In June his line now reads .274/.342/.509. That isn’t a great set of numbers for the Pacific Coast League, but it isn’t bad either. In 106 AB over that same span he has 10 walks and 48 strikeouts. That is bad at any level.

However, as is often the case, this bit of inexplicablity starts to disappear when we dig into the splits. When Jackson is ahead in the count he is hitting a robust .281/.454/.594 with 32 walks and 28 strikeouts 96 AB. When he is behind in the count, those numbers drop to .171/.193/.295 with 55 walks in 105 AB. We expect some gap in a player’s numbers in these two situations, but Jackson’s splits are extreme. Anthony Rizzo, by comparison, finished Triple A this season with a line of .328/.505/.896 when ahead and .289/.297/.433 when behind. The problem, then, appears to be with Jackson’s approach when he is behind in the count. He has a much harder time making contact, and when he does make contact he’s not driving the ball as hard as he does when he is ahead.

So, how do the Cubs’ fix it? Now that Rizzo is in the majors and Vitters is hitting fairly well, I think ironing out Jackson’s game is the overwhelming top priority for the Iowa hitting instructors. They’ve had success polishing up hitters before (Rizzo and Vitters both made strides in Iowa this season). Hopefully they can turn Brett Jackson into their biggest success story yet.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – A little pit of power and a lot of good pitching resulted in Iowa’s 7-0 win.
Tennessee – Friday was a hitters’ night in Tennessee, and the Smokies got the best of it. They won 10-8.
Daytona – The Blue Jays rallied in the ninth to beat the Cubs 11-10.
Peoria – In another hot game with lots of offense, the Chiefs fell in ten innings 8-7.
Boise – The Hawks lost their tenth game of the season by a final of 4-1.
Arizona – The AZL Cubs had a day off.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Josh Vitters keeps rolling along. He hit his 13th home run as part of yet another two hit day.
  • [Iowa] Alberto Carbera struck out three in two scoreless innings. Look for Cabrera to be a part of the Cubs bullpen in September and to be a major player in the 2013 spring training bullpen battles.
  • [Tennessee] Frank Batista did not seem to be bothered by the heat. He gathered five outs on his way to his 13th save with the Smokies, and did not allow a hit in the process.
  • [Tennessee] The Smokies piled up 14 hits, so there are plenty of hitters who had big games. Among the biggest were Justin Bour (2 for 4, HR), Juan Apodaca (2 for 4, 2B), and Michael Burgess (2 for 5, 2B).
  • [Daytona] The Cubs allowed five home runs in this game, including two each by Frank Del Valle and Ryan Searle. Scott Weismann gave up just the one long ball, but he took the loss. I should mention that the wind was blowing out to right field at 12 MPH.
  • [Daytona] Matthew Szczur was 2 for 4 with a double and three runs scored. He was upstaged, though, by Ronald Torreyes who went 3 for 4 with a double and his fourth home run of the year.
  • [Peoria] Michael Jensen struck out six in his five innings of work. He also allowed six runs to score, but only three of them were earned.
  • [Peoria] Zeke DeVoss pulled of a really neat trick in this game. He finished with the following line: 3 AB, 2R, 0H, 1BB. When you realize that Wisconsin made four errors, all becomes clear.
  • [Peoria] Javier Baez finished with two hits, including his second triple of the season. Anthony Giansanti and Yasiel Balaguert also had two hits apiece.
  • [Boise] Willengton Cruz struck out five in his five inning start, but he still took the loss.
  • [Boise] The Hawks’ bats were mostly silent in this one. Stephen Bruno hit a double and a triple, but his was the only standout night.

Other Minor League Notes

  • Tony Zych has been promoted to Double A Tennesee and made his debut on Friday night. He did not have a great game, but considering that he was making his first Double A appearance on a day very conducive to hitting I think that can be forgiven. He pitched one inning and allowed one run on three hits with a strikeout and a walk.
  • Critics of the Sean Marshall trade are going to have to find something else to pick on. After getting off to a slow start, Torreyes has started hitting like the elite hitter he was projected to be. His June line now reads .341/.406/.541 with 8 walks and 9 strikeouts. He also has three of his four home runs in this month, including a homer in each of his last two games.

Farm System Standings

AAAIowa Cubs : 34 – 48.
Pacific Coast League American Northern Division – Second Place: 17.0 Games Behind.

AATennessee Smokies : 4-5
Southern League North Division – Third Place (tie) : 2.0 Game Behind

High ADaytona Cubs : 6-3
Florida State League North Division – First Place (tie) : 0.0 Games Ahead

Low APeoria Chiefs : 3-5
Midwest League Eastern Division – Third Place : 2.0 Game Behind

Short-Season ABoise Hawks : 5 – 10
Northwest League East Division – Third Place : 3.5 Games Behind

Rookie LeagueAZL Cubs : 6 – 2
Arizona Rookie League East – Second Place : 1.5 Games Behind

  • TonyS

    Great work Luke. Love reading your minor league reports. Szczur and torreyes having another good game is very encouraging. Hopefully ronald and Logan W can fight each other for the big league 2b job soon. Brandon the AA correspondent mentioned that Lake’s performances arent as good as his stats line suggests and i was wondering whether the same can be said of Szczur? Hopefully his 2 bagger in this game was a rope to the gap.

  • TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo

    El Caballo for Garrett Gould? Why in the world would LA give up that much? Seems like highway robbery for the Astros. B.A. says Goulds stuff is better than Zach Lee’s.

    • Brett

      I can’t figure it out myself. Seems nuts, even if the Astros eat all of the remaining dollars.

      • TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo

        If these are the deals the Doders are making wish the cubs would have gotten there first. I’ll take Chris Reed and Garrett Gould any day for Brian LaHair (filling the offensive need) and Ryan Dempster.

        Maybe they’ll even throw in Zach Lee as a “thanks for doing business” bonus.

        • oswego chris

          I am not buying this deal for a second…I think it’s a wish that an Astro person floated out there to possibly get someone close

  • oswego chris

    Here is the “double edged sword” with Jackson….in the majors he will not get up in the count near as much because of the superior pitching, however, by that same token he may get better first pitch strikes to hit…

    after coaching baseball for over 20 years(yes just high school, I don’t consider myself an expert and please don’t think I am trying to be a know it all) I have come to believe that getting a good count to hit is a skill that is hard to teach…some kids have it, some don’t…you can preach and teach it all day and some guys just won’t get it…

    with jacksons high walk rate, it appears he may have this ability, but obviously the issue then is contact…does he shorten up with 2 strikes?(most hitters don’t anymore)

    48 ks in 102 at bats probably translates to upper 50’s in the majors….

  • Eric

    Is it time to panic about Almora yet? I can’t shake this feeling that he isn’t going to sign…

    • Norm

      Panic on July 13th.
      As I said on draft day, if you just go into this with the expectation that Almora won’t sign until 1 hour AFTER the deadline, you’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary worry.

      • djriz

        Okay then on Almora. But what about Soler? Did I miss his signing?
        Doesn’t he need to be signed by Monday?

  • supercapo

    Is Vitters starting to re-establish himself as a top Cubs prospect? If so what would his ceiling be? I would be happy if he could hit .275-.280 with 20 homers a season and play average to a little better than average defense. Could he be the starter next year at Wrigley?

    • Luke

      .270 with 20+ probably isn’t an unreasonable expectation for Vitters. ┬áThe power numbers should continue to go up for a few years, and I’d not be surprised if he hits 30 at least once in his career.

      • JulioZuleta

        The problem is that if he hits .270, he very well may have an OBP below .300. I know his pateince has gotten slightly better this year, but it’s still not nea what it needs to be.

        • Kyle

          That is overstating it a bit. He has a 42 point spread between BA and OBP career, and no lower than 49 since 2010. If he only hits .270 in the majors, which I think is on the low end of his potential, he should still have a .310 OBP. That is acceptably mediocre if he shows some power.

          • JulioZuleta

            I guess, but it’s even harder to walk when the pitchers have better location and better stuff. Also, I know a few of his BBs since his hot streak started have been IBBs.

            • Kyle

              What I like about him is that his skill set should translate well to increasing levels of competition. His walk rate has trended up as he moves through the minors.

              He is actually surprisingly good at not swinging at pitches out of the zone. He doesn’t walk more because ie can and will put anything in the zone in play. There may be some attrition to his walk rate in the majors, but projecting it to drop that much is a bit extreme.

              • JulioZuleta

                Yeah, I’m definitely getting more excited about him. I just think he’ll need to hit higher than .270 to be a solid regular. His defense is on the low end of average, and he’s never going to walk a ton, steal bases, or hit for crazy power.

      • djriz

        Luke, we totally agree on his potential numbers. And he could do it for 10-12 years.

        For Vitters haters out there. The comp player those stats equal…..Robin Ventura !!
        (Vitters OBP would not be as high).

        You could win a bunch of games with a Ventura-like 3rd baseman.

        • Crockett

          Well, Vitters is not in the ballpark defensively compared to Ventura.

          So there’s OBP and defense.

          • djriz

            I can’t compare range factors cuz I just don’t know, but Ventura’s defense may be a bit of an urban legend. His career fielding percentage is only .960, wich is middle of the road for 3rd baseman.

            But, I still think it’s a decent offensive comparison.

            I’d also give Ventura an edge in leadership and maturity.

            • art

              what about his boxing skills?

  • Pouncey

    Rizzo’s numbers in even counts must be really outstanding, and is the real take away here (didn’t he hit ..342 this year?!). The ahead in the count/behind in the count numbers would be improved by including the even count stats.

    I bet Jackson strikes out alot in all three categories.

  • CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

    Totally psyched about how well Vitters has progressed this year. Maybe I should also consider my moniker change to VitterstoBarneytoRizzo. Hmmm…

  • JulioZuleta

    “When he is behind in the count, those numbers drop to .171/.193/.295 with 55 walks” This isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like this. What exactly qualifies as “behind in the count” because, if it means what I thought it means, how could he have 55 BBs when behind in the count? Or, how is an AB counted when it starts 0-1, but then goes to 2-1 or 3-1? This is more of a rhetorical question than anything, just something that has always confused me whenever I’ve seen it.

    • Brett

      I think – could be wrong – that, for the purposes of that specific set of stats, a single at bat can count as many at bats.

  • Crockett

    Anyone ever play wiffle ball as a kid? Do you remember the big, red plastic bat? It’s barrel was enormous?

    That’s what Brett Jackson needs.

    • Jack Weiland

      Haha, that’s awesome.

  • aCubsFan

    These stats are the exact reason why the braintrust didn’t have Jackson on the starting major league lineup. It’s also why Hoyer said the other day he’ll stay at triple A until he shows the Cubs he is ready for the majors.

  • uncleheffe

    Will be at all 4 of the Cubs/Sounds games here in Nashville starting tonight….excited about seeing Vitters and Jackson in person. Happy to give updates and info for those interested through my twitter @uncleheffe.

    • willis

      acubsfan-Do you live in or around Nashville? I’m in Memphis but often get that way and take in a Sounds game. The park isn’t all that great but it’s very close to the field and you get a really good feel for the players. Like in Memphis, when Iowa is in Nashville it’s an awesome time to get up close to the future Cubs. Have a great time and pull the Cubs through.

  • Jack Weiland

    Interesting stuff on Jackson, but personally I need a LOT more evidence that this is A) “The” problem for Jackson (if there’s only one, which seems unlikely) and B) Something that is more prevalent with him than the rest of the prospect population.

    I’m intrigued, but one player comparison where he doesn’t fare as well as a clearly superior prospect doesn’t prove this theory for me. At all.

  • willis

    Jackson had the exact type of game we should hope for last night. A couple of hits, an RBI and a run. I still think the kid will be a very good major league player. Has every tool. A lot of you are jumping off board on this one, but I’m definitely not.

    Plus he’s dreamy.

  • Proofrock

    I don’t know about his skills at the play but he does have a great diet.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I dont think Jackson is going to play in the Majors. He just isnt good enough. He cant hit in the easiest AAA league ghe PCL. I hope Theo trades him as part of a package with Dempster

    • Njriv

      I think he’s just having an off year. Maybe he can regroup after the All-Star break now that the whole Rizzo fiasco is over, and maybe he can come up about this time next season, he’s still pretty young.

    • TSB

      “I dont think Jackson is going to play in the Majors. He just isnt good enough.’
      Then why would any team trade for him? Might as well release him now…