Of all the players you’d like to see do well this Spring Training, I’m not sure there’s a guy for whom it would feel better (for the fans, I mean) than Brett Jackson. The top prospect we all dreamed on before the current wave of elite prospects entered the system, Jackson was the center fielder of the future, and had such a fun game to watch. Speed, power, defense, baserunning, grit, walks. He could do it all. I won’t belabor the contact issues that have cast considerable shadow on his ability to translate those skills to success at the big league level, and will instead say simply that it sure would be nice to see him get over them just enough to make a career for himself – even if only on the bench – in the big leagues.

That’s why it was nice for a day to see Jackson put together a great game, with a three-run homer and a two-run single against the Royals, plating five of the six runs the Cubs would ultimately score. That latter hit wound up being the game-winner, and BN’er Andrew was at the game with his trusty phone in tow. He grabbed a video of the game-winning hit:

I love hearing the crowd get jacked up, even on the road, in Spring Training.

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, it was all RizzOMG.

Anthony Rizzo went deep for the first time this Spring yesterday, and it was a thing of beauty against Bartolo Colon. Sure, Colon left the ball up and missed on the inner half, but Rizzo puts everything into it, and crushes the ball:

And in his next at bat, Rizzo did it again. But this time, it was really a thing of beauty. Look at how quickly Rizzo gets to the ball on the inside of the plate (Colon didn’t miss his spot this time), gets his hips turned, and rips the ball. It’s a demonstration of such easy power:

If I remember correctly, that used to be the hole in Rizzo’s swing a couple years ago, and he would swing over top of those kinds of pitches. Lowering his hands allowed him to get to the zone more quickly. (Warning: not a scout.)

And, hey, since we’re looking at stuff, how about a bonus video of almost-never-discussed-(except-by-Luke)-but-probably-should-be Cubs utility prospect Zeke DeVoss. He can play second base and center field, he can walk at an hilarious 15% clip (seriously, that’s his minor league walk rate), and he can do this:

  • Diehardthefirst

    Jackson is the type of player that needs to be handed CF job and told he’s in lineup every day as lead off and after 162 games will be evaluated again- what’s to lose? A lot more to gain in this soon to be forgotten season

  • DarthHater


  • bushybrows74

    I was irritated when I saw Zeke DeVoss dive into first base. Was even more irritated when RR congratulated him on the “hustle”.

    • Diehardthefirst

      Try some baby powder

      • dsgn1

        okay, that’s funny

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      One day the “you get to first faster by diving” myth will die, but probably not until the banning of Wins and Losses as a pitching stat, the removal batting average from baseball cards, and the purge of Gold Glove votes from all voters who (a) ever voted for Jeter, or (b) are found to let offense factor in their votes.

      • blublud

        I dont know rather I agree or disagree with this one. It’s the same as diving for a ball over your head in football, or diving for a catch in baseball, or sticking your head and neck out in track and field as you crossing the finish line in track. If running gets you there faster, then why would diving at anytime be necessary. Once again, I’m not agreeing or disagreeing, just asking the question.

        • http://BN Sacko

          You just answer your own question no track runner ever slides into the finish line..

          • blublud

            So why does a receiver dive to get further out to catch a football. Also, diving completely across the finish line in track would probably hurt is why its not done. But runner will stick the neck out and leap across the finish line. I wonder if this has been tested scientifically.

            • http://BN Sacko

              Because the football is lower then where their arms are in the stride. in addition the body is balanced stretched out easier to make the catch rather then hunched over. Sticking out ones neck is still way different then sliding through the finish line. A natural instinct. Believe me hurt or not they would slide if they knew it was faster in order to win..but they never will because it is not. Tracks would be made to accommodate a slide if it was faster.

              • http://BN Sacko


          • Cubs-Win

            That is how Ricky Bobby beat that French dude!!! Dive on, if it makes you feel better!

        • ClevelandCubsFan

          It’s simple physics. The average runner gets down to first in about 4.3 seconds or so. That means his average speed is somewhere around 14.2 mph. Let’s say for kicks that at the end of that run the dude is kicking it at a top speed of 20 mph, which is pretty speedy.

          As the runner is arriving at the base at his top speed, his legs are pumping him forward against the air. For simplicity sake, let’s say he’s not accelerating anymore at all. He can’t go any faster, and he’s not slowing down yet. (In reality, there are probably tiny fluctuations in his speed at this point, but we’ll consider them negligible.)

          Now, barring any outside forces, the runner should be able to maintain that 20 mph if, say, gravity suddenly vanished and there no forces acting on his body. In such a case, he’d float toward first at a constant 20 mph. Pretty sweet.

          Of course that’s not what is happening. Gravity being as it is, it’s going to stay in effect, and that means his legs keep pumping and and the friction of the air hitting his body is trying to slow him down. Since he’s not accelerating, we assume that these main two forces (and a host of minor forces) are in a nice, perfect balance, keeping him at 20 mph as he runs through first.

          However, if the runner slides, then as soon as he leaves the ground, he has disengaged his forward-propelling force: his legs. He is now totally at the mercy of the friction of the air, which is mercilessly slowing him down. Then a split second later, he hits the dirt and the deceleration kicks in big time. He’s losing speed very rapidly at this point, causing him to loses precious hundredths of seconds.

          Some might argue that he gets reach from his finger tips, but really the body is just going to rotate around its center of gravity. Reach out your finger tips straight ahead. Do they extend any further from your body than your toes do when you sprint? Probably not by much if at all. The legs might actually win depending on your leg:arm ratio.

          But it gets worse. Assume that the runner is not maintaining a constant speed. Let’s assume he doesn’t hit top speed until somewhere around 100-120 feet (a lot of guys seem to hit their stride about halfway between first and second). That means he’s accelerating through first base. But as soon as you lunge for that base, you’ve not just stopped accelerating, you’ve started decelerating.

          The ONLY time sliding at first makes sense is if the runner KNOWs the throw is going to be off the bag and KNOWs the fielder will need to swipe tag. And the runner KNOWs that the slide is going to help him avoid the tag. But the runner is rarely in a position to know these things with any significant confidence.

      • mjhurdle

        ESPN’s “Sports Science” focused on this. they found that it was 10 milliseconds faster running through the bag than diving/sliding.
        After that episode, a couple other people have verified that, but it seems that the difference is more the result of sliding on the bag prior to hitting the bag, when you dive.
        In theory, if someone was able to, on every run to first, dive at the perfect time to hit the bag with his hand before his body hit the ground, it would be as fast or even a couple milliseconds faster. But the odds of doing it perfect each time are small.

        • http://BN Sacko

          Thank you! Holly..

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Diving for first really only makes sense in those rare circumstances where you are: a) avoiding a tag in front of the base, or b) avoiding a collision behind the base due to both two fielders being there to cover the bag on “broken” plays.

      Diving for a ball is a little different because the question isn’t how fast any part of your body gets to a place, but how quickly you get your hand some place. Often times your only chance to catch the ball requires getting you glove well below your belt. Diving at the end can be the fastest way to get your hand X feet away and (say) 1 foot off of the ground. When you see guys dive for balls that they catch chest high, then you are seeing an unnecessary dive: you would get your glove to the ball in better shape by slowing down slightly with your feet and catching it on your feet. (That, however, does not make ESPN’s Web Gems.)

  • SenorGato

    Rizzo is the only guy currently on the MLB roster that I buy 100% as a pillar of The Future.

    • blublud

      Um, Castro, Castillo, Wood, Strip and a few others. There is more than Rizzo.

      • SenorGato

        Yeah, which is why I specified Rizzo as the *only one* I buy 100%, no doubts about him becoming what he’s supposed to be.

        The only other potential star in that group of guys you named is Castro, and obviously recent times have not been favorable. Strop/Wood/Castillo are potential quality filler you eventually hope to upgrade.

        • blublud

          If Castillo consistently repeats last year, it would be really hard to replace him.

          I don’t buy any player on our roster currently as a “star” not even Rizzo, but all those guys could be pillars for the future as you stated first. A pillar for the future and a star is two different things. Rizzo probably has the best chance of any of them, however, to be a star

          • SenorGato

            Castillo probably isn’t repeating last year. Then there’s just the age…He’s got as much ML experience as Rizzo but is almost half a decade older.

            Your response istreating all those guys as if they’re equal talents. They’re just not – Castillo and Wood in particular have very strong cases for 2013 just being a year where things really went their way. None were prospects on par with Rizzo either. The underlying numbers for Rizzo are way more positive than anyone else in the group.

            • blublud

              My point is you dont have be a star to be a “pillar”. If Wood is only a #4 or #5 starter, he can still be a pillar for the future. If Castillo manages to become a slightly above average catcher consistently, he’s still an important piece. You dont have to be a star to be a pillar. If every team had 25 slightly above average players, they would be a very good team

  • http://BN Sacko

    Switching gears on Sandberg benching Rollins, I think there is more involved then just Rollins one comment. Resulting in Ryno really getting hammered on the decision. Call it old school or even that its ST I believe Ryno had good reasonSSS.

  • IndyCubsFan

    Plus, the guys’s name is Zeke. No matter how you say it, feels like I know him already! haha

  • cubbiekoolaid2015

    Anyone know what the lineup will be in Vegas today? I saw Vogelbach and Bryant are starting…

  • Jr 25

    Switching gears again just read Corbin from AZ is possible out for the yr. Do you think we start hearing rumors of Shark going there or Delgado or Bradley making it into the rotation. And other than Bradley does AZ even have anything to offer us?

    • http://BleacherNation blewett

      Delgado is out of options. I’d say he gets that 5th slot and Bradley gets sent down. Or maybe they should just give us both those guys along with Owings/Gregorius for Shark and Castro!