Cubs' Jackson Tries To Hit Way Into Picture
Brett Jackson knows how to make an impression.
A year ago, early in his first spring training, Jackson drove a pitch from Aaron Heilman off the top of the 50-foot-tall hitter's backdrop at Ho-Ho-Kam Park and flew around the bases for a stand-up triple. This was hardly beginner's luck for the Cubs' first-round pick in 2009.
Jackson reinforced his reputation as a prospect in a hurry, with a similar drive in one of the first batting practice sessions this spring. This time the ball sailed over the fence at the Fitch Park complex and smacked the window of a passing car, cracking the glass.
Jackson, 22, isn't expected to receive serious consideration for a major league job this spring. But he hopes to make the kind of impression Tyler Colvin did a year ago, when he hit .468 with a team-high 18 RBIs in spring training to force himself into the outfield mix.
"Colvin is a good role model for all minor leaguers as it is," Jackson told the Chicago Tribune. "The way he attacked his work ethic and made his strides making it to the big leagues and making an impact in the big leagues. Colvin is a good example for us all."
Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefthanded hitter, combined to hit .297/.395/.493 between high Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee last season. He had 12 home runs and stole 30 bases despite battling a strained wrist. He later joined Team USA for the Pan-Am qualifier in Puerto Rico, but a bruised heel and staph infection in his shin sidelined him after he got off to a fast start.
Jackson likely will open 2011 with Triple-A Iowa, but it could be his last Opening Day in the minor leagues. This is the last year of Kosuke Fukudome's contract, and both Colvin and Jackson offer flexibility, with the ability to play center field as well as the outfield corners. A big first half by Fukudome could prompt a trade that would open the door for Jackson. Or, like Colvin, he could just force his way into the picture.
• The Cubs traded former Florida State second baseman Tony Thomas to the Red Sox for righthander Robert Coello, who had been designated for assignment. Coello, who made his big league debut last September, will compete for a spot in the bullpen.
• Despite a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, righthander Chris Carpenter seems almost certain to open the year in Triple-A. Manager Mike Quade said he'll likely look at pitching prospects like Carpenter, Jay Jackson and Trey McNutt to see if they can help in the future.