Brett Jackson Is One Of Those “Special Players”


It happens every year in Spring Training. Each year in camp there is one player where the sound that resonates from the bat after making contact with the ball sounds a little bit different from the other player’s in camp. In 2010, it was Tyler Colvin. The plan for Colvin in 2010 was to spend Spring Training with the Major League camp before starting the season with the Iowa Cubs. That was the plan, but that is not what happened. Colvin hit .468 that Spring with 18 RBIs, and that was enough to earn Colvin a spot on the 25 man roster coming out of Spring Training.

Fast forward to 2012 and the same thing may be happening. Though, this time it is with a prospect that has a much higher ceiling than Colvin had.

While putting stock into intrasquad games is bit risky, it would seem that Cubs’ top prospect Brett Jackson is ready to prove to the organization that he is ready to play everyday in the Major Leagues. Prior to Sunday’s cactus league opener, Jackson homered in back to back intrasquad games on Friday and Saturday. Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum has taken note of Jackson this Spring and alluded to the idea that he might consider putting Jackson’s name on the 25 man roster when the team breaks camp.

"“We’ve all been around long enough to know where kids like that, guys that are pretty special players with speed, power, arm — the five-tool players — are ready to play,” manager Dale Sveum said. “They make (for) some tough decisions down the stretch too. He’s that kind of guy. You can see it in his eyes. He’s here to impress and make this team, not to go back to the minor leagues.” Chicago Tribune"

While Sveum is the manager, it will be interesting to see the input that President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer have on the Opening Day 25 man roster. Hoyer and Epstein have mentioned throughout the off-season that Jackson would likely be on the same pace as first baseman Anthony Rizzo in regards to when we can expect the Cubs’ top outfield prospect in the Major Leagues. Such a pace puts the estimated Cubs’ debuts for Rizzo and Jackson to come in June.

But if Jackson proves this Spring Training that he is ready to play in the Major Leagues, would that be enough for the prospect to earn his way on the Major League roster? The answer to that question should be yes. The common rule in baseball is to expect the unexpected. So while Epstein and Hoyer planned for Jackson to start the season in Iowa, the pair of executives may also have a scenario in mind where Jackson is on the 25 man roster coming out of Spring Training. Such a scenario will also bring with it a change of roles for current starting center fielder Marlon Byrd. If Jackson and Byrd are both on the 25 man roster when Spring Training concludes it would mean that Jackson is the starter while Byrd either shifts to Left Field or is a mentor to Jackson.

The main criticism of Jackson being placed on the 25 man roster would be that it would start his arbitration clock. Rather than having Jackson’s clock start a year later if he were to be called up to the Major League roster in May or June. This is a poor excuse to not place a prospect on the 25 man roster. The one thing Spring Training provides for Major League teams is the opportunity for a team to adjust their plans in case there is one player who proves with his Spring performance that he is ready for the next level. For the Cubs in 2012, Jackson may be that player.