For two top minor-leaguers, Double A championship now, Team USA next

JACKSON B PHOTO DAY 2010 378.jpgAt 374-316 overall, the Cubs minor-league system pulled in its most wins since 1995 and had MLB’s second-best winning percentage (.542), behind only the Cardinals.

On top of that, the Double-A Tennessee Smokies won their opening round playoff series and take on the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx (a Marlins affiliate) in the Southern League championship series starting tomorrow. Two players leading the Smokies also will be leading Team USA in the upcoming COPABE Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament, scheduled for Oct. 1-10 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Outfielder Brett Jackson (right) and right-handed pitcher Chris Archer both have made big strides in 2010. In Vine Line, we’ve covered both Archer’s critical development of his command as well as Jackson’s athleticism and upbeat attitude.

Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein also contributed the following two prospect updates to our September Scorecard EXTRA, which you can pick up at Wrigley Field during the season’s final homestand next week:

“While the significant playing time handed to top prospects Starlin Castro and Andrew Cashner signal the Cubs’ youth movement in the big leagues, there’s more coming. The Cubs have had an excellent year down on the farm, with a pair of players reaching Double A, and making a run to reach the big leagues in 2011.

“Outfielder Brett Jackson, the club’s first-round pick in 2009, blew through the high Class-A Florida State League and hasn’t slowed down since moving up to Tennessee, showing a good approach at the plate and gap power. He also boasts excellent defensive skills in centerfield and a good arm.

“Speaking of good arms, few pitchers in the system have taken as big a step forward as Chris Archer. Acquired from the Indians in the Mark DeRosa deal in December 2008, Archer had a 1.45 ERA in his first 10 Southern League starts, showcasing a fastball that gets into the mid-90s to go with a quality breaking ball. He also leads the organization’s farm system in wins and strikeouts.”

— Sean Ahmed

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