It’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.