Cubs Camp Full Of Firsts





PEORIA, ARIZ.—For a few weeks anyway, the Cubs had their past four No. 1 picks together in one camp.

Tyler Colvin (2006), Josh Vitters (2007), Andrew Cashner (2008) and Brett Jackson (2009) mingled with other minor leaguers and veterans and tried to make impressions on manger Lou Piniella and his coaching staff.

Colvin had already picked up a slice of major league experience when he played in six games as a September callup in 2009. The 24-year-old lefthanded hitting outfielder showed he was going to stick around camp for awhile after hitting .442/.442/.651 through 15 games with a homer and seven RBIs.

He was expected to battle Sam Fuld for one of the final outfield spots when camp broke.

Piniella told reporters that Colvin and star shortstop prospect Starlin Castro were the most impressive young players in camp.

Vitters, a 20-year-old third baseman, picked up four games in the first few weeks of exhibition play and hit .444/.444/.667 with four RBIs, but he was sent to minor league camp.

Cashner, a 23-year-old righthander, opened a few eyes early and Piniella said he could be a candidate for one of the final bullpen spots when camp breaks. He was sent back to minor league camp after going 1-0, 3.60 with eight walks and five strikeouts in five innings. But Piniella was impressed overall.

"There's no reason why this young man can't have an impact on our team this summer with the stuff that he's got," Piniella said. "He's worked hard, he's made some improvement, and he should go down (to the minors) and dominate."

Jackson, 22, didn't get many opportunities but made the most of them before he was sent to the minors. The outfielder played in four games and went 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Since Jackson had played just 53 professional games since signing, he didn't figure to be a serious consideration for a roster spot. But he impressed the brass and that should pay off in the future.

Cubbyhole

• It wasn't as important as winning a roster spot, but several prospects tried to impress veterans by participating in the "American Idol"-like "Cubs Idol" contest. Shortstop Darwin Barney, who sang the Coldplay tune "The Scientist," and righthander Justin Berg, who sang an original tune, were co-winners.

• Castro left a huge impression before he was sent to minor league camp. He hit .423/.444/.692 in 13 games and figures to be a callup sometime in 2010 after getting a little more seasoning at Triple-A Iowa.