brett jacksonIt’s been a rough year for Brett Jackson. Formerly one of the top prospects in the Chicago Cubs’ system, Jackson dealt with contact issues last year, and struggled in that regard in his cup of coffee with the big club late in 2012. From there, he worked hard in the offseason on that swing, and was ticketed for AAA Iowa where he would, hopefully, show that the new swing had done some magic, and would be in a position to come up to the big club after a presumed July sell-off.

Well, the sell-off is underway, and Jackson is on the move, but it’s not where he wanted to be, or where we hoped he’d be. Jackson is headed to AA Tennessee after a rehab process in Arizona, where he’s been shaking off a calf injury. That calf injury came after other bumps and bruises largely derailed the early part of his season, in which he hit just .223/.300/.367 at AAA and struck out nearly 1/3 of the time.

Hopefully he can work out some issues at AA, and re-emerge as a future big league contributor (even if in a fourth outfielder role). Jackson has so much talent – defensive ability all over the outfield, good instincts, good speed, good baserunning, sees a ton of pitches, has power – that you can’t simply forget about him after a year of struggles. That said, all of those “other” things can be completely neutered by an inability to do the thing all big league positional players need to be able to do at a foundational level: hit the ball.

Jackson, who is on the 40-man roster, turns 25 in a few days. If he hits well immediately at AA (with no contact issues), it’s not inconceivable that he could finish the minor league season back at AAA, even though there’s only about a month left in those seasons. From there, a September call-up is tough to project, but not impossible, if that’s where the Cubs want to see Jackson get some additional at bats, given the injuries. As I said, he’s already on the 40-man roster. The Cubs will probably want to have a good sense of whether he’s going to be able to contribute at the big league level next year before carrying him on the 40-man all Winter once again.

  • willis

    I really like Jackson and hope he can find his way. This year and last year were such a struggle. But like you said, so much talent. I’ve seen him in person a bunch in the minors and he just looks the part. It’s a shame his numbers have derailed like they did. Here’s to him turning it around in TN.

  • On The Farm

    Why would a Sept call up be unlikely if he is already on the 40 man? Just curious.

    • Brett

      “Unlikely” might not be the right word. There are considerations in calling a guy up in September, both financial (i.e., he makes more money) and developmental (he could instead do instructional or other work in Arizona, rather than sitting the bench in Chicago). So being on the 40-man is not a sure bet for a call-up; Jackson’s situation is just a tough one to peg. I should try to soften the language.

      • On The Farm

        Ah that makes sense. I guess I just saw you say they want to know what they have in Jackson before carrying him on the 40 man all winter and coupled with probably not a callup so just couldn’t find the benefit of not calling him up. Now I gotcha. Thanks!

        • Noah

          Jackson still has enough promise that if the Cubs DFA’d him, someone else would pick him up on their 40 man. This is particularly true with another option left next year.

          • 5412


            Then trade him!


      • 5412

        Hi Brett,

        I feel unlikely is probably accurate. If he gets callied up it will be because, at 25, he learned to swing at pitches in the zone and hit them hard.

        Highly unlikely but we can hope. We don’t need to waste MLB at bats to confirm what we already know.


  • Cheese Chad

    This is one of those, “everything has to work out perfectly” scenarios, but I’d like to see him up in Chicago this year even just as a bench role to get him some more at-bats. Maybe he still needs more time to adjust to his new swing.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Instead of Ramirez as the PTBNL in the Texas deal lets get a lefty for the pen from AA Alex Claudio and a righty for the pen former RedSox free agent signee Roman Mendez.

  • Kramden

    Wishful thinking but in our heart of hearts I think most of us have written Jackson off by now.

    It doesn’t look like it’ll happen for him. Hard to understand how a baseball player with such obvious talent has such a hard time making consistent contact.

    • willis

      Definitely is. He has everything needed to be a very good player but just has fallen apart the last couple of years. The contact issue is just wild with how toolsy he is.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Well, it is what it is. And if Olt doesn’t perform markedly better at Iowa soon, he should be joining him. Olt in Iowa has been terrible.

    • Brett

      It’s been less than a week …

    • Jason Powers

      Let’s give the Olt experiment 120-150 ABs in Iowa, before we start the memoirs on him.

      • http://It'searly Mike F

        Olt has had over 250 ABs in AAA. And yes it is a new start, but he continues the pattern of regression. Look I have no issue with giving him a chance, just a big issue with how people somehow bought into the mystique of all the conferred status on him and then crap backwards all over Jackson and even nitpick the Baez strikeouts. I hope Jackson and Olt both work out, the difference with me is I don’t buy the conferred status on any of these guys. Jackson AAA production is problematic and so is Olt’s. He needs to fix it a hurry.

        • gocatsgo2003

          “In a hurry”? Why would that be?

        • gocatsgo2003

          You know who else had a couple go-arounds at AAA and almost 700 cumulative plate appearances at that level? Anthony Rizzo. Obviously he put up some filthy numbers in both the Padres and Cubs organizations at the AAA level, but he had plenty of time at AAA to work on his game.

          Olt is currently at 289 career plate appearances at AAA. To give up on a guy after less than half of a season at AAA (one in which he had some freaky eye injuries/issues to boot) is more than a bit premature.

        • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

          Does anyone have an example of a high strikeout guy that has been acceptable to Theo/Jed? For example, was Millar or Big Papi a high K guy but acceptable b/c of their OBP or SLG percentage? Olt and potentially Jackson have some very attractive abilities (defense, power, speed) and peripheral numbers that a high K rate may be okay. Frank Thomas in a full season averaged 90 to 115 ks per season, he obviously had the walks and power numbers to overlook that stat.

          • Kyle

            They scooped up Mark Bellhorn for 2004 when he became available.

        • Jason Powers

          Well I wasn’t one that was psyched for Olt ever. But he’s there now, so how about we get kids back in school before we get started again on Memoirs of Olt’s K: Part II, Iowa Woes as our what I did over my summer break 1st assignment.

          • http://It'searly Mike F

            Same holds true for Jackson. And yeah Kyle that’s kind of what I think, he’s a Ortiz type that they are hoping to catch lightening in a bottle. Olt is a bigger project than Cub fans who have already plugged him into 3b for the future. Give him his chance yes, but his failure rate this year is something to be alarmed about.

            My point to people is grow up. Other than Castro, seems anyone Hendry found is treated like a leper. I’m as big a Theo fan as exists, but Hendry and everything he touched isn’t evil. And every move Theo makes won’t work either, just hopefully enough to get a ring……

  • TonyP

    I don’t even think about Jackson anymore when pondering prospects…..

  • http://bleachernation Ferris

    Well crane is going to tampa……..

    • ETS

      leave something for the blogathon!!!

  • North Side Irish

    Tennessee Smokies ‏@smokiesbaseball 1m
    #Smokies 7/29
    @superSZCZ4 CF
    Alcantara 2B
    @javy23baez SS
    @bour41 1B
    Villanueva 3B
    Silva RF
    @TheBJacks DH
    @JAndreoli16 LF
    @rlopez_29 C
    Rhee P

    Swap out Silva for Soler and this would be a very intriguing lineup…

    • ssckelley

      How about Szczur instead?

  • Patrick G

    I know it’s very unlikely, but if Baez continues this rampage in AA, any chance we see him in Chicago in September? I know his average is down, but he did well in sprin training and it could give him a little experience to know what he’s up against in the future. Again highly unlikely but just a thought

    • On The Farm

      It would require an add to the 40 man and start his arbitration clock so I would say the odds are against him

      • Patrick G

        True I didn’t even think of that

    • ETS

      no chance. He’s not on the 40 man.

    • Kyle

      Insanely unlikely, especially considering he’s not on the 40-man.

    • ssckelley

      Not this year but I bet Baez gets a strong look next season, possibly even spring training. But a safer bet is September 2014.

      • Noah

        I’d say a safer bet it actually May or June 2015. The Cubs don’t need to put Baez on the 40 man anytime soon, and despite the awesome power in AA Baez is striking out in 36.4% of his plate appearances. Baez will return to AA to start next season, and I’d bet he’ll be there for at least half the season. The Cubs could jump Baez straight to the Majors from Tennessee if the Ks are under control, but I just doubt they will be to a level that the Cubs would be comfortable having him skip AAA entirely.

  • cms0101

    He’s hitting homeruns, but there is no chance he gets to Iowa before the end of this season, let alone Chicago. He’s not ready for Wrigley and there’s no reason to speed up his arbitration process. The front office is focused on acquiring and developing talented young players. They will not rush these guys up. They will take their time, to the point of annoyance, before bringing the top prospects to the majors.

    • gocatsgo2003

      I don’t think there’s “no chance” he gets to Iowa before the end of the season, especially given the front office’s comments about wanting him to know that there are greater challenges out there. They have also moved him up a level toward the end of the season in 2011 and 2012, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities — just unlikely.

    • gocatsgo2003

      And for what it’s worth, after his prolonged 0-fer after homering in his first at bat, the kid has a .296/.367/.1000 line with 6 HR in 30 PAs over the past two weeks. It hasn’t been “homer or bust” for him. He’s been pretty damn impressive for a 20-year old kid at AA.

      • gocatsgo2003

        (It looks like I’m talking to myself here, which, I guess I kind of have been.)

        With apologies, .296/.367/1.000 is his line over the last week. It’s .250/.320/.625 over the past two weeks. Which… still. Impressive.

        • Danny Ballgame

          He usually takes a little time to transition at each new level. I want to see him play against the highest levels, I just think that he’s in AA for the rest of the year. Probably Iowa halfway through next year and coffee in Sept.

        • willis

          He’s 20. He’s on his first merry go round of a very good southern league and he is hitting HRs like wild. The adjustments/average will come soon enough, what he’s done since the promotion has been impressive.

        • X The Cubs Fan

          There’s no chance he isn’t starting the year in Tennessee next season unless his ks cut in half by the end of the year.

          • gocatsgo2003

            I agree completely. Just also think there may be some value in throwing him into the tail end of the AAA season to say “see… you aren’t going to be able to hammer EVERYONE you face.”

            • Kyle

              I think that’s what they were trying to do by sending him to AA.

              • TWC

                Well, it worked.

                For a couple of weeks.

              • gocatsgo2003

                Agreed, but if they need to keep pushing him up to challenge him, they might just go ahead and do it. I don’t think they will bump him into the Bigs as part of that process due to external considerations (service time, arbitration, etc.), but why not bump him to AAA if need be?

                • Luke

                  The Cubs will probably wait until he meets this challenge before planning his next one. He is hitting home runs, but that’s about it. He still has a lot of work to do in Double A before moving him up again really becomes a necessity.

                  • gocatsgo2003

                    Moving him up again before the end of 2013 would clearly not be a “necessity.” I don’t think it’s likely. Just pointing out that I don’t think it’s as far out of the realm of possibility as the original post to which I replied given the front office’s statements about continually challenging Baez.

                    • Scotti

                      Baez is failing, on the whole, his current challenge. He has one month left to go and, as such, zero time to both improve and demonstrate that improvement. Zero chance he is promoted to AAA this year unless Iowa is getting into the playoffs and Tenn isn’t and that would just be a play for more PA (and even then, it’s a stretch).

                    • another JP

                      Baez, a 20 y/o with a 10 homers in 82 ABs and league leading OPS @ AA is failing??… Okie doke.

  • Roughriider

    Just saw that former Cub pitcher Frank Castillo drowned in a Lake in Arizona. Too young to be gone.

    • Clark Addison

      Very sad.

      • Scotti


  • Bilbo161

    I hope Silva doesn’t lose too manny at bats. He’s doing really well right now. Maybe someone is headed to Iowa?

  • javi b (not that one):

    I wonder if seeing Jackson going back to AA will have eny effect on baez, i mean just last year Jackson was the top prospect and thought to be a huge part of the cubs future but all his other tools weren’t enough to look past that K% (and he actually can take a BB)

    I guess age and power put them in different situatios but just a thought

    • gocatsgo2003

      Don’t know why it would effect [sic] Baez except maybe he will say “hey… that guy is pretty good, but he sure strikes out a lot. Maybe I should try not to do that.”

  • Grant

    Any word of corresponding moves? If BJax is gonna play in TN, someone else probably needs to move, and it sounds like Szczur is about ready.

    • Bilbo161

      Kind-of what I was thinking. Or Silva. Don’t want either to lose at bats.

  • http://bleachenation Sacko

    I’m going to move on BJax as it sounds he is still striking out a lot in the minors. How is he ever going to hit in the majors. I think what we have here is another chocolate or I mean Felix Pie.

  • Jimmy James

    Sent to tenn to be a cautionary tale to Baez…don’t strike out so much kid 😉

  • Blublud

    Anyone suggesting Baez will be traded don’t really understand what this FO doing. They will not make any trade shipping out a top prospects until the current top prospects are already on the field. With the exception of Olt and maybe Alcantara, Baez will be one of the guys already at the MLB level when those trades start happening. Meaning they will be trying to add to what they already have at that time, not subtract. Of the top 6 or 7, Almora, Johnson or Bryant are more likely to be traded, because they could be further away then Baez, Olt, Alcantara or Soler (depending on his health). Even then, I think this FO is content with letting them all sink or swim before making any moves. This is not me saying Baez is better then any of the others (though I do think Baez is the best out of that group, and I’m obviously not alone), but his ETA versus the ETA of the others makes the others more likely to be traded.

    • Josh t

      I the FO would have no problem dealing Baez as long as it was for the elite of the elite players like Giancarlo Stanton or David Price. It will cost more then just Baez and probably even another one of the big 4 to land one of them but you can only deal Baez for an elite star player and I don’t think ppl are suggesting they would trade him for less. I actually think it is 50/50 he gets traded within the next 2 yrs. I’m more concerned then most about his BB% and poor plate approach. He’s insanely talented but I think his K rate is a bigger problem then most