Wrigley's Own

Brett Jackson was fond of the Cubs even before the draft





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CHICAGOOn Aug. 2, 2007, the Cubs dropped a 10-6 decision to Philadelphia on a steamy afternoon at Wrigley Field. Starting pitcher Sean Marshall was tagged for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings and Will Ohman gave up three runs in the ninth. It wasn't a good day for lefties.
 
Most fans left Wrigley Field in disgust. But a 19-year-old kid named Brett Jackson left in awe. The California native liked the Cubs before that but became a big fan after his first trip to Wrigley.
QUICK TAKE
If OF Brett Jackson makes consistent contact, he'll be a steal as the No. 31 overall pick, but whether he can is a big question. After Jackson, the Cubs went heavy on lefthanders with Austin Kirk (third round), Chris Rusin (fourth) and Brooks Raley (sixth).
—JIM CALLIS

"I spent my 19th birthday there," he said. "I was playing in the (Northwoods League) and I had the opportunity to go there with a few friends. I was sort of overwhelmed just walking in there. It's an experience in itself just being in that stadium. You can feel the history. The fans are obviously one of the best in baseball.

"I remember walking in and just being wowed. It was one the better birthdays of my life. I love Chicago. I love the city and hopefully I'll be living there soon and playing in pinstripes."

Jackson, now 20, was drafted by the Cubs in the first round with the 31st overall pick June 9.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefthanded hitting, righthanded throwing outfielder from California was ranked as the second-best overall college athlete in the 2009 class by Baseball America. He is coming off of a junior season in which he batted .321, which included an 18-game hitting streak, with eight homers and 41 RBI in 53 games.

On May 12, he drove in eight runs in a 4-for-6 performance against Sacramento State.

Jackson said he wanted to go through the minor leagues and into the majors as quickly as possible, but Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken isn't in a rush.

"We'll be allowed to go a little bit at our own pace," he said. "There isn't a cause at this time to force it. We'll see how it plays out. He has a chance to be a frontline center fielder and an everyday player.

"We feel he has an average to above-average throwing arm and it is accurate. He's a plus runner who has a chance to have some power down the line."

Jackson is taking a wait-and-see attitude about when he will sign but he said he hopes it will be quickly.

"I want to work hard to make the organization proud of their pick," he said.  

Cubbyhole

• The team's second-round pick was Louisiana State second baseman D.J. LeMahieu. At the time of the draft, former LSU star Mike Fontenot was the starting third baseman for the injured Aramis Ramirez and former Tigers standout Ryan Theriot was the starting shortstop, so the Cubs have faith in LSU infielders.

• The Cubs used the 109th pick of the draft for lefthanded high school pitcher Austin Kirk. Kirk helped lead Owasso (Okla.) High to three straight state titles.