Cubs Final Report





Best Player: A speed-power player with a first-round pedigree, outfielder Brett Jackson recovered from a strained ligament in his left little finger to turn in a solid 2011 season. He hit just .256/.373/.443 in 246 at-bats at Double-A Tennessee. Coaches said he was the type of player who would show his skills better at higher levels, and that seemed true when he raised his season average to .297/.388/.551 in 185 at-bats after being promoted to Triple-A Iowa. Jackson finished with a combined 20 home runs and 21 stolen bases. He covers ground well enough to play center field and has enough arm to play right.

Best Pitcher: Lefthander Eric Jokisch, an 11th-round pick from Northwestern in 2010, held up in a season when all the pitchers around him seemed to either get hurt or stall. Jokisch opened the season as a reliever at low Class A Peoria and ended it in the Double-A rotation. He worked 139 innings while starting just 14 games, going 10-3, 3.09. He uses an unorthodox delivery to create enough deception to get by with a fastball that tops out in the high-80s. He's a strike thrower, which could get him to the big leagues.

Keep An Eye On: A converted shortstop, Steve Clevenger has jumped onto the map as a future big league catcher, either as a regular or the lefthanded-hitting part of a platoon. He 's backed up Welington Castillo for much of the time since being picked in the seventh round of the 2006 draft but thrived when playing regularly in Double-A, with Castillo in Triple-A. Clevenger combined to hit .319 with an .858 OPS between Tennessee and Iowa, including a .407 average in his 25 games in Triple-A. He can deliver power but his trademark is making contact. He had only two more strikeouts (46) than walks. He'll be 26 next year, so it's his time to get after a job at Wrigley Field.

Cubbyhole

• Oneri Fleita signed a four-year extension to remain in his job as farm director, even though the team is in the process of hiring a general manager to replace Jim Hendry.

• First baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair was named MVP of the Pacific Coast League, and then promoted to join the Cubs on Sept. 1. He led the minor leagues with 38 homers, an Iowa franchise record. The old record had been set by Joe Hicks (37) in 1984.