3/14 Jackson impresses but needs more time
Brett Jackson may be ready for the big leagues but the Cubs don’t have an opening for the outfielder. The Cubs’ first round pick in 2009, Jackson was batting .385 in eight games. It’s early, but he’s been as advertised.
“When you see him in person, it’s been pretty impressive, every part of his game,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Wednesday. “He comes to play every day. He comes to kick the other team’s butt, there’s no doubt about it. He’s a very aggressive, confident kid who’s probably going to end up playing here a long time.”
Is the 23-year-old outfielder ready for the big leagues?
“I don’t see why he wouldn’t be ready,” Sveum said. “Maybe the last part of his game is a little better two-strike hitter and probably not putting himself in some of those counts with swinging and missing. As far as the ability and everything, I don’t see what else has to happen other than a little better two-strike approach.”
But the Cubs plan is for the talented Jackson to start at Triple-A Iowa. He played 48 games there last season and hit .297 with 10 homers and 13 doubles.
“It’s just at-bats sometimes,” Sveum said of what’s needed. “Some of these guys get to the big leagues now before they get 2,000 at-bats in the Minor Leagues. You learn with more at-bats, tinkering. He’s got a pretty good understanding of the strike zone. The only time he swings at bad pitches is when he has two strikes on him.”
So far, Jackson has 1,133 Minor League at-bats, and a career .292 average and .393 on-base percentage.
“One thing at the big league level is you’re going to see guys with the ability to bounce breaking balls with two strikes,” Sveum said. “You won’t see the same hanging breaking balls that maybe you’ll see in the Minor Leagues. You’ll see guys taught and understand about bouncing breaking balls and you have to be able to lay off. It’s not about hitting breaking balls, it’s about laying off of them with two strikes.”
Even if Jackson shows improvement, there just isn’t room on the Cubs roster. They have Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and David DeJesus committed as the three starters. One thing Sveum has made clear is that Jackson needs to play and being the extra outfielder on the Cubs’ 25-man roster won’t help him.
“You don’t want the guy to sit on the bench,” Sveum said. “He needs to go play still. Unfortunately, there’s not really an opening right now for that to happen.”
— Carrie Muskat