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Mar 20, 2011; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Josh Vitters throws to first during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Hohokam Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Sunday Start-Up: Vitters, Jackson, Cespedes

This week marks the first week of February. As the calendar turns from January to February, the Chicago Cubs will likely be on the look-out over the course of the next couple of weeks for bargain free agents that are still on the market. Of course, the Cubs are still coveting Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, as well as left handed pitcher Geraldo Concepcion. The belief is that all three of the Cuban prospects should sign by the time Spring Training starts, and Concepcion will likely sign with a major league team this week. Saturday provided an update on one of those three Cuban prospects, and two top prospects int he Cubs’ farm system are ready for the major leagues.

  • Long-time third baseman of the future Josh Vitters appears to be on the cusp of being major league ready this off-season. Vitters was the Cubs’ first round selection, and third overall selection, in the 2007 first-year player draft. Vitters admitted to Carrie Muskat of cubs.com that he has struggled during the early seasons of his professional career, but coming off of 2011 season that saw Vitters make progress, the third baseman is ready to be called to the major league level. Though, Vitters’ road to show may now be blocked in the form of third baseman Ian Stewart, who the Cubs acquired from the Colorado Rockies in trade that involved Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu. I get the sense that Vitters will not be a part of the Cubs’ organization for much too longer. I think Vitters will be one of the players sent to the Boston Red Sox as part of the Theo Epstein compensation package. Nonetheless, it is nice to hear the motivation from a young player such as Vitters.
  • Dave Van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune appears to be adding to his resume of becoming a FBI Profiler. Last week, Van Dyck had interesting read on new Cubs’ pitching coach Chris Bosio. Now, the veteran baseball reporter has another impressive profile on Cubs’ top prospect Brett Jackson. Jackson believes he is ready to contribute on the major league level, and is looking forward to proving that sentiment to President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer during Spring Training. Jackson is the epitomy of a five-tool outfielder, and will likely be the Cubs’ leadoff man once his ascension to major leagues is complete. There are still some hurdles to Jackson making the major league roster out of Spring Training. For one, both left fielder Alfonso Soriano and center fielder Marlon Byrd are still with the team. In order for Jackson to find a spot on the major league roster, either Soriano or Byrd will have to be traded before opening day.
  • Another potential wrench to the Cubs’ 2o12 outfield picture, is the team’s pursuit of Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes is allowed to negotiate with major league baseball teams but there are still some underlying issues to be resolved before Cespedes can officially sign with a team. The teams interested in Cespedes are the Miami Marlins, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, and Chicago Cubs. Both the Cubs and Marlins have been billed as the favorites to sign Cespedes. Bruce Levine, of ESPN Chicago, mentioned on “Talking Baseball” Saturday morning that he believes the Cubs will outbid every other team for Cespedes’ services. As I have mentioned in recent weeks, the Cubs still have money to spend with the money they saved from Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena signing with other teams this off-season. With the new restrictions on the draft, Epstein and Hoyer will likely turn to Cespedes as a way to bolster their long-term and short-term future.

Tags: Alfonso Soriano Brett Jackson Chicago Cubs Ian Stewart Jed Hoyer Josh Vitters Marlon Byrd Theo Epstein Yoenis Cespedes

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