When to Call up Top Prospects
There is always a debate about how to deal with top prospects. How can a team know when they are “ready?” The two most notable Cubs’ prospects are Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson. If these prospects were brought up today, then they would not be put on the fast-track to free agency. Today is the first day teams can bring up top prospects and still control them until 2018.
Brett Jackson seems to be the most interesting of the two because of the departure of starting center fielder: Marlon Byrd. The Cubs opted to bring up Tony Campana instead of Brett Jackson. Manager Dale Sveum talked about how Jackson needs more at-bats and has to be able to cut down his strike out rate in the minors before he comes to the majors. The spot is open for him now, but Jackson needs to improve his .239 average before he gets the call. The at-bats will come and the experience is much needed. The Cubs are doing the right thing leaving him in the minors until further notice.
Anthony Rizzo may have a harder time getting to the majors. Bryan LaHair has played very well and looks like he can play at the major league level, the man is hitting .375. That being said, Anthony Rizzo is crushing the ball at the triple-A level. There is an option that I discussed a little bit in the preseason. Bryan LaHair can be moved to third base and Anthony Rizzo would have a spot opened up for him to get the call up. This would displace Ian Stewart, but Stewart is hitting .205. The sample size is not large enough to make a big move like that yet, but it is an option to think about. Rizzo struggled last season in a brief stint in San Diego, but I don’t think that affects a call-up now.
There is an outside chance of another call-up: Wellington Castillo. Castillo is hitting .318 in Iowa and has thrown out %46 of runners (6/13). Geovany Soto is hitting a putrid .125 and has thrown out %21 of runners (4/19). The Cubs are paying Soto $4.3 million and he is only 29 years old. The Cubs have two catchers who appear to be major league ready, so trading Soto might be a great idea right now.
The Cubs will probably find a way to get all three of these players up to the majors at some point this season, but there is no rush. The Cubs are not a playoff team this season, so the Cubs can let their prospects get ready before pulling them up.