Results tagged ‘ Brett Jackson ’
Josh Vitters will man the hot corner for the Iowa Cubs. (Photo by Stephen Green)
By just scanning down the 2013 Opening Day roster, it’s apparent that the Iowa Cubs have some major league experience. Though the lineup doesn’t include a top prospect of Anthony Rizzo’s pedigree and Jeff Samardzija’s days of shuttling back and forth between Chicago and Des Moines are a thing of the past, this Iowa side has enough talent and experience (17 of the 26 players on the Opening Day roster played in the majors last year) to make things interesting in the Pacific Coast League this season.
Center fielder Brett Jackson will be the centerpiece to this season’s squad. The organization’s No. 4 overall prospect (according to MLB.com) struggled putting the ball in play last season, striking out 217 times combined in Triple-A and in the majors. He spent the offseason reworking his swing, with the hopes of cutting his K total down. If it works, he’ll receive a call-up, or—at worst—there could be an increase in his 15 homers and 47 RBI in 106 Triple-A games from a year ago.
Josh Vitters also returns to the fray after struggling with an August 2012 call-up. He crushed Triple-A pitching last season though, hitting .304/.356/.513 in 110 games, with 17 homers and 68 driven in. He spent much of the offseason working on his patience at the plate, looking to see more pitches and be more selective.
Ryan Sweeney will give the organization a boost as well. The new Cub (signed April 2) has spent seven seasons in the majors, and owns a career .280 average, including hitting .260 with the Red Sox in 2012. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native will get an opportunity to play in front of his home fans before a hopeful return to the bigs.
Much like the other minor league affiliates, the pitching staff doesn’t have a top-level arm. But that’s not to say there aren’t intriguing pitchers.
The rotation boasts three players with 2012 big league experience in lefties Chris Rusin, Brooks Raley and right-hander Drew Carpenter. Rusin’s numbers are the most notable of the three, starting eight games last year and compiling a 6.37 ERA. But during the spring, the 26-year-old surrendered just five runs during 23.1 innings.
The organization’s minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck and Barret Loux both received promotions from Double-A, and round out the rotation. Struck went 14-10 in Double-A Tennessee last year, with an ERA of 3.18 in 155.2 innings, fanning 123. Loux, a former first round pick, recorded a 14-1 record with a 3.17 ERA in 25 starts for Double-A Frisco of the Rangers’ system.
Marty Pevey will take over as manager of the I-Cubs. Here’s the full roster he’ll have to start the season:
Esmailin Caridad RHP
Drew Carpenter RHP
Jaye Chapman RHP
Casey Coleman RHP
Rafael Dolis RHP
Jensen Lewis RHP
Barret Loux RHP
Yoanner Negrin RHP
Blake Parker RHP
Zach Putnam RHP
Brooks Raley LHP
Chris Rusin LHP
Nick Struck RHP
Cory Wade RHP
Brett Jackson recorded a team-high two RBI for Iowa Monday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Kane County Cougars picked up their first win of the season Monday, while the Iowa Cubs surrendered their fifth-straight loss. Here are the highlights from Monday’s games:
IOWA CUBS (0-5)
Iowa suffered its fifth-straight loss to open the season, surrendering six first-inning runs in a 13-5 setback at Round Rock.
- 2B Logan Watkins (.368) went 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, two runs scored and a RBI.
- CF Brett Jackson (.238) was 2-for-4 with a double and a team-high two RBI (2).
- SS Donnie Murphy (.300) was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
- RF Brian Bogusevic (.389) reached base three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and an outfield assist.
- RHP Blake Parker (6.75) walked one and fanned two in 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.
TENNESSEE SMOKIES (2-3)
Tennessee lost its second game in a row, dropping a 2-1 pitchers’ duel at Pensacola.
- CF Matt Szczur (.409) reached base three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base.
- SS Arismendy Alcantara (.261) added two hits, going 2-for-4.
- LF Rubi Silva (.154) went 1-for-4 with a stolen base.
- LHP Zach Rosscup (0.00) allowed one hit while fanning three in 1.0 scoreless inning of relief.
- RHP Trey McNutt (0.00) fanned one in a perfect eighth inning.
DAYTONA CUBS (3-1)
Daytona had the day off. The D-Cubs return to action Tuesday, hosting Clearwater.
KANE COUNTY COUGARS (1-4)
Kane County squandered a 5-1 eighth-inning lead, but plated a run in the bottom of the 10th to defeat visiting Clinton 6-5 in walk-off fashion, snapping a season-opening, four-game skid.
- 2B Gioskar Amaya (.238) went 3-for-5 with a triple, a run scored and a stolen base.
- C Chadd Krist (.625) was 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored.
- RF Bijan Rademacher (.214) added three hits, going 3-for-5 with a team-high three RBI and an outfield assist.
- 1B Rock Shoulders (2-for-5, R) and LF Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-5, R) both had multi-hit performances.
Jorge Soler homered and drove in two on Sunday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Tennessee Smokies and the Daytona Cubs picked up a win after Sunday night’s games while Iowa and Kane County both continue to search for their first victories of the season after falling short this weekend. Here are the highlights from Sunday’s games:
IOWA CUBS (0-4)
Iowa suffered its fourth consecutive defeat to start the season, falling 7-3 at Albuquerque.
- RF Ryan Sweeney went 2-for-3 with a walk and a solo home run.
- CF Brett Jackson (1-for-4, R) and LF Darnell McDonald (1-for-4, R, 2B) also collected hits and a run.
- RHP Casey Coleman allowed two runs on three hits in 2.0 innings out of the bullpen, striking out two.
TENNESSEE SMOKIES (2-2)
Tennessee stranded the tying run on second base in the ninth inning, losing 5-4 at Pensacola.
- 1B Justin Bour (2-for-4, R, RBI) collected two hits including a RBI double in the third inning.
- 3B Tim Torres walked and singled twice in three at bats.
- RHP’s Tony Zych (1.2 IP, 2 H) and A.J. Morris (1.1 IP) combined to hold the Blue Wahoos scoreless over the final three innings.
DAYTONA CUBS (3-1)
Daytona scored nine runs over the final four innings to shutout Brevard County on the road, 9-0.
- RHP P.J. Francescon (1-0) surrendered one hit in five scoreless innings, striking out six.
- RF Jorge Soler (2-for-4, 2 R, BB, 2 RBI) homered for the second-consecutive day, knocking in SS Javier Baez (1-for-4, R, SB) in the sixth inning.
- LF John Andreoli reached base four times, going 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs, a triple and a RBI.
- RHP Yeiper Castillo struck out three batters in two scoreless innings.
- RHP’s Luis Liria and Austin Reed recorded the final six outs in order to complete the shutout.
KANE COUNTY COUGARS (0-4)
Quad Cities scored two runs in the 13th inning to defeat host Kane County, 3-1, and finish off the four-game sweep.
- CF Oliver Zapata went 2-for-5 with a walk from the leadoff spot.
- LF Rock Shoulders (2-for-3, BB) extended his hitting streak to four games.
- LHP Michael Heesch took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before surrendering the first hit and run of the game.
- RHP Felix Pena pitched 5.2 innings of scoreless relief, allowing three hits and walking one while striking out five.
You can never have too much pitching.
If you need further proof of that old baseball axiom, let’s look at the 2012 Cubs. They started the season with a fairly solid rotation behind a pitching-out-of-his-gourd Ryan Dempster, reliever-turned-starter Jeff Samardzija, a rejuvenated Paul Maholm and young veteran ﬁreballer Matt Garza. At the back end, there were two options: newly acquired lefty Travis Wood and underachieving former top draft pick Chris Volstad.
Things looked pretty good on paper. But, as we all know, that didn’t last long.
The offense didn’t score. Injuries took their toll. The trade deadline came and went. And, well, the rest is lamentable Cubs history.
It turned out the team didn’t have much major league-ready talent behind those guys—in the starting rotation or in the bullpen—and baseball president Theo Epstein’s preseason prediction, “The numbers show you’re going to need your ninth starter through the course of the year,” came true.
As a result, the front ofﬁce was laser focused on one thing throughout the hot stove season: acquiring more serviceable big league pitching to ensure there isn’t a repeat performance of last season.
“I think that probably the biggest weakness when we got here was depth in pitching, especially at the upper levels,” General Manager Jed Hoyer said. “Ideally, you want to home-grow all of your pitching. We don’t have that luxury right now, so we actively sought out a lot of starting pitching. We brought in four guys we see as starters: [Edwin] Jackson, [Scott] Feldman, [Scott] Baker and [Carlos] Villanueva.”
The Cubs might not have a traditional “ace” coming into the season, but they have three guys with the ability to ﬁll that role in Samardzija, Garza and Jackson. If strike-throwing machine Baker can fully recover from last April’s Tommy John surgery, he should be a useful veteran addition to the staff. Feldman and Villanueva have both proven they can start and relieve in the big leagues, giving manager Dale Sveum plenty of flexibility. And Travis Wood, the only lefty in the starting mix, has tremendous athleticism and mixes in six different pitches.
The team also solidiﬁed the bullpen by re-signing veteran Shawn Camp and bringing in Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa. Even Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon, who is required to stay on the 25-man major league roster all season or be offered back to the Indians, looked impressive in his spring appearances.
The April issue of Vine Line takes a look at the Cubs pitching staff from top to bottom to give you an idea of what each pitcher throws, how they attack hitters and what to expect this season.
We also sat down with Hoyer to get a sense of where the organization stands as he enters his second season in the driver’s seat. The team certainly still has work to do, but there are many reasons to feel optimistic about the future.
“We’re trying to build something that every year [fans] know is a playoff-quality team,” Hoyer said. “It doesn’t happen overnight, and we’ve been really honest about that. But I do think fans deserve to start seeing the fruits of our labor, and I think you’re going to start to see that coming together now.”
Still, winning organizations are not built solely by shrewd front ofﬁce maneuvers. They require buy-in from coaches, players and personnel at every level. While we were in Mesa, Ariz., with the team this spring, we got a ﬁrsthand look at how the Cubs’ message is being passed along from veteran players, like David DeJesus and Alfonso Soriano, to the younger generation, like Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson. It’s a time-honored baseball tradition—each spring, older players take the young studs under their wings to teach them the ins and outs of the major league game.
Baseball is back. Let’s see where this ride takes us.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs agreed to terms with all 21 pre-arbitration eligible players currently on the organization’s 40-man roster Monday. Terms were not disclosed.
Right-handed pitchers Michael Bowden, Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, Trey McNutt, Hector Rondon, Arodys Vizcaino and Robert Whitenack; and lefties Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin and Travis Wood were all signed to new deals.
Catchers Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger; infielders Darwin Barney, Junior Lake, Anthony Rizzo, Christian Villanueva, Josh Vitters and Logan Watkins; and outfielders Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt and Matt Szczur also earned updated contracts.
People are drawn to Spring Training for a variety of reasons. It gives fans a chance to see top players get back into action, young prospects face off against major league competition, and veteran fringe players try to win another opportunity at a major league roster spot.
Friday afternoon’s lineup will include all of these common spring scenarios. Many of the regulars, including David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano will be in the lineup as the club takes on Arizona at HoHoKam. But the scorecard will also include names like Brett Jackson, Logan Watkins and Edwin Maysonet.
Anyone who’s been following the Cubs over the last few years should be aware of Jackson. A former first round pick in 2009, the versatile outfielder has a lot of parts to his game that are major-league ready. But in seasons past, Jackson has had a difficult time making contact, striking out 59 times in 142 plate appearances after an August call-up in 2012. But Jackson entered camp with a more compact and simple swing that has paid dividends early this spring. Even though it’s well known he’ll start the year at Triple-A, an impressive first few months in Iowa could could earn the toolsy prospect a call-up to the North Side.
“I worked really hard this offseason,” Jackson said. “To make a muscle memory-type adjustment is a pain in the [butt]. To see results is good. I’m going to keep pounding on that to keep reinforcing that it is second nature.”
Watkins came into Mesa as the organization’s reigning minor league player of the year, after hitting .283/.383/.422 with 11 homers and 28 stolen bases at Double-A last season. The 20-year-old has the ability to play a range of positions—in fact, he’s played every defensive spot but catcher and first base over the last two seasons—but he’s probably best suited to second base, where he’s admitted he feels most comfortable. After the season, Watkins participated in the Arizona Fall League, stepping in for Javier Baez after the top prospect injured his thumb. Though Watkins competed in just nine games, he recorded seven hits and drew eight walks.
Maysonet was an October waiver pickup this past offseason. The 31-year-old has spent his 10-year career bouncing back and forth between the big leagues and the minors. Last season, he was mostly in Milwaukee’s system, where he hit .208 at Triple-A. But like Watkins, Maysonet has the ability to man an array of positions, including third base, where he’ll be playing Friday.
First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 CST, and the game will be webcast at cubs.com. The Diamondbacks will be sending Trevor Cahill to the hill. New D-Backs acquisition Tony Campana is not in the starting lineup. Here is the Cubs full batting order:
CF David DeJesus
SS Luis Valbuena
1B Anthony Rizzo
DH Alfonso Soriano
RF Nate Schierholtz
C Welington Castillo
LF Brett Jackson
2B Logan Watkins
3B Edwin Maysonet
(Photo by Stephen Green)
After struggling with contact at the major league level last year, outfield prospect Brett Jackson spent most of the offseason working to refine his swing. Though it’s still early, his hard work has paid dividends so far. In the first Cactus League game of the season Saturday, B-Jax went 2-for-2 with two triples. That followed a 3-for-3 performance, with two doubles and a stolen base, in an intrasquad game Friday.
“[The new swing] is second nature at this point,” Jackson said. “I still have to stay on some things, as every hitter does. There are some things you’re going to work on your whole career, and it’s never going to just stay. I think most hitters work their whole career to stay back or stay behind the baseball. You always have to be on top of that kind of stuff.”
Every season at the outset of Spring Training, organizations invite their top prospects to big league camp. The benefits are twofold: the prospects gain valuable experience watching how major leaguers prepare for the season, and coaches and staff get an opportunity to watch future contributors firsthand.
Top prospect Javier Baez, minor league player of the year Logan Watkins, minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck, Brett Jackson, Cuban import Jorge Soler and many others have spent the first few weeks of camp with the Cubs’ major league club. This week, Vine Line talked to some of the talented young players who are trying to make a name for themselves in Mesa.
Here are the other videos from out Spring Training series:
Though the Cactus League season doesn’t officially get started until tomorrow, it was Cub on Cub again Friday afternoon at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz. Former Brewer and Astro Edwin Maysonet propelled the White team to a 6-3 win with a “walk off” three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth off reliever Jensen Lewis. Of course, being Spring Training, the Blue team still had to get the last out, so the game wasn’t officially over until the next batter, Brent Lillibridge, grounded out to short.
There were some standout offensive performances in the brief, five-inning game. Manager Dale Sveum praised the hitters, who seemed to be a little ahead of the pitchers today. Between both sides, there were eight free passes issued in the game.
“Any time you’re getting quality at-bats [you're happy],” Sveum said. “And quality at-bats are sometimes are just that—just not swinging at pitcher’s pitches, the borderline strike, getting yourself out quick, getting yourself out in fastball counts, those things. That’s what we’re trying to eliminate is quick outs because of bad pitch selection.”
Blue team center fielder Brett Jackson’s retooled swing was on full display Friday, as he finished the day 3-for-3 with two doubles, a run scored, an RBI and a stolen base. Jackson struggled in his first call-up to the big leagues last season, hitting just .175 with four home runs, nine RBI and 59 strikeouts in 120 at-bats. He spent most of the offseason at the Cubs practice facility in Mesa reworking his swing to produce more contact.
“It’s a big confidence boost,” Jackson said. “I worked really hard this offseason. To make a muscle memory-type adjustment is a pain in the [butt], so to see results is good. I’m going to keep pounding on that to keep reinforcing so that it [becomes] second nature.”
Designated hitter Dave Sappelt, who is in a good position to win an extra outfield spot on the 2013 squad, also went 3-for-3 with a little help from the Arizona sun. He singled in the first, doubled in the third and hit a deep, soaring pop fly in the fifth that White team center fielder Matt Szczur lost in the bright sky.
“I’m not too concerned about Sappelt,” Sveum said. “The guy has put himself in that category where he can kind of just hit.”
Utility infielder Luis Valbuena also drilled a two-run home run off reliever Micheal Bowdon to tie the game 3-3 in the fourth.
The press corps was a little larger at the park today because Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa was making his Cubs debut. Though he didn’t look particularly sharp, he did work one scoreless inning of relief. After the game, Fujikawa commented that several Cubs pitchers told him about how the dry Arizona air affects the way a ball moves.
“He’s a veteran guy who’s thrown a lot of innings in key situations in Japan,” Sveum said. “But you do want to see him in key situations against really good National League and American League hitters. Just to see how it all matches up.”
The Cubs will play their first official game at 1 p.m. local time tomorrow afternoon against the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Ready to get the 2013 baseball season started? The Cubs campaign kicks off next weekend, Jan. 18-20, at the 28th Annual Cubs Convention, held for the first time at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in downtown Chicago. The event will feature more than 75 current, past and future Cubs players and coaches, and will offer more than 100 photo and autograph opportunities.
The Opening Ceremony begins on Friday, Jan. 18, at 5 p.m., and will feature player and alumni introductions on a red carpet runway that will offer special VIP access to children 16 and under. Following the Opening Ceremony, guests will find some of their favorite Cubs throughout the hotel for an exciting Autograph Hunt Game. The evening will conclude with longtime Cubs Convention favorite Cubs Bingo, led by Wayne Messmer, as well as a live radio broadcast of WGN Sports Night.
Saturday’s program continues the gaming fun with the return of Cubs Jeopardy, which pits alumni pitchers Milt Pappas, Scott Sanderson, Lee Smith and Rick Sutcliffe against alumni position players Jose Cardenal, Jody Davis, Randy Hundley and Todd Walker. Cubs Family Feud makes its Cubs Convention debut Saturday afternoon, as Cubs alumni Bobby Dernier, Jon Lieber, Gary Matthews and Billy Williams take on current Cubs Michael Bowden, Shawn Camp, Brett Jackson and Ian Stewart.
Fans can meet many of the club’s offseason acquisitions—including pitchers Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Edwin Jackson; catcher Dioner Navarro; and outfielder Nate Schierholtz—at the Meet the New Cubs session hosted by new television analyst Jim Deshaies and play-by-play broadcaster Len Kasper.
Additional Saturday sessions include:
- Ricketts Family Forum—Tom, Laura, Pete and Todd Ricketts speak with Len Kasper and fans about their experience as team owners over the past three years.
- Meet Cubs Baseball Management—President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, Executive Vice President/General Manager Jed Hoyer, Assistant General Manager Randy Bush, Assistant General Manager Shiraz Rehman and manager Dale Sveum speak about the club’s recent moves and what lies ahead for the 2013 season.
- From Draft Day to the Big Leagues—Cubs minor league prospects Dallas Beeler, Matt Szczur, Robert Whitenack and Tony Zych discuss what it’s like to get drafted by the Chicago Cubs and advance through the minor leagues.
- Dale Sveum and the Coaching Staff—The Cubs manager, bench coach Jamie Quirk, hitting coach James Rowson, assistant hitting coach Rob Deer, bullpen boach Lester Strode, first base coach Dave McKay and third base coach David Bell speak with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies about what’s in store during the staff’s second year.
- For Kids Only Press Conference, presented by Advocate Health Care—A unique Q&A session where kids ask the questions to Darwin Barney, David DeJesus, Brooks Raley, Anthony Rizzo and Chris Rusin.
- Renew Wrigley Field—Cubs executives discuss ideas to preserve and renew iconic Wrigley Field based on input from Cubs fans, season ticket holders and the community.
- Not for Women Only—Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza, James Russell, and Travis Wood discuss their personal sides and lives off the field.
- WGN Radio’s Sports Central—This live broadcast with WGN Radio’s Jim Memolo and Glen Kozlowski will feature segments with David DeJesus and Matt Garza; Darwin Barney and Jeff Samardzija; Tony Campana and Starlin Castro; and Brett Jackson, Edwin Jackson and Anthony Rizzo.
Sunday’s program features two panel sessions to close out the Convention:
- Down on the Farm—Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod, Director of Pro Scouting Joe Bohringer and Director of Player Development Brandon Hyde will be joined by Cubs farmhands Chris Rusin and Josh Vitters to give a breakdown of the Cubs minor league teams from Iowa down to Mesa. Hosted by Vine Line editor Gary Cohen and broadcaster Dave Otto.
- Stat Sundays—Broadcasters Jim Deshaies, Len Kasper and WGN’s Bob Vorwald offer insight into the statistics they analyze and feature during Stat Sundays throughout the season.
In addition to the sessions highlighted above, the Convention includes many new and returning activities throughout the weekend for fans:
Rookie of the Year Movie Night, presented by the Cubs Kids Club, makes its Cubs Convention debut. Fans can eat popcorn and relax with family and friends Saturday evening while watching the popular film, Rookie of the Year.
Walgreens Field is a new miniature turf diamond that gives kids a fun place to take practice batting, play pick-up wiffle ball games or participate in professional instructional clinics as part of the Baseball Interactive Zone. Cubs players and coaches will pair up with Illinois Baseball Academy instructors to conduct a series of training opportunities for fans of all ages throughout the weekend.
Comcast SportsNet Chicago is giving fans the chance to test their play-by-play broadcasting skills in a custom-built fantasy broadcasting booth. Guests will call a pre-recorded play in the booth, then download a recorded copy of their work for keeps.
MLB Network’s Strike Zone allows fans to test their arm speed and win prizes at an inflatable speed pitch.
The Sony PlayStation Gaming Zone gives attendees a chance to take a break from the action to play MLB 12 The Show at one of several Sony PS3 kiosks.
The LEGOLAND® Discovery Center returns with an area dedicated for families to exercise their creativity with the small building blocks.
American Girl’s Activity Area features activities inspired by American Girl dolls and the chance to win a new doll and book.
The Chicago Sun-Times Photo Kiosk lets fans have their picture taken for the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times with customizable headlines that make for a memorable souvenir.
Fans can learn about or contribute to the history of the Cubs franchise in collaboration with team archivists. Historical pieces of memorabilia will be on hand for viewing, and guests can receive professional tips on how to preserve their own valuable keepsakes. Attendees are invited to share their personal stories with a video crew, and they may be used in future promotions or publications.
Limited individual weekend passes for the 2013 Cubs Convention are still available for $60 per pass plus convenience fees. Visit www.cubs.com/convention or call 1-800-THE-CUBS. A percentage of the proceeds from the Cubs Convention benefits Chicago Cubs Charities. To date, Cubs Convention has raised approximately $4 million for Chicago Cubs Charities.