When the Epstein/Hoyer era began at 1060 W. Addison in 2011, the Cubs’ farm system was, to put it delicately, depleted. Headlined by “future stars” such as Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, and Trey McNutt, the Cubs farm system was ranked as one of the worst in the league.Nonetheless, Cubs fans still saw a future where Brett Jackson as the cornerstone of the Cubs outfield. “Jackson-Mania” swept Wrigleyville in 2012, and fans were hopeful. His results were less than stellar.
In 44 games, Jackson struggled mightily, batting only .175, with 4 homeruns, and a 41.5 percent strikeout rate. Jackson played all of 2013 in the minor league system, hitting a total of 11 home runs between rookie ball, AA, and AAA, an unimpressive season to say the least. Jackson began the year on a short leash, and so far, he has hit .210, with 5 home runs, and a 37.7 strikeout rate. An improvement, but alas not good enough. Jackson was traded late Thursday night to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league pitcher, Blake Cooper.
With the Cubs entering a new era, there was simply no room for Jackson. The former first round pick (2009) simply couldn’t develop fast enough. At 26 years old, one has to question what Jackson can really contribute to a major league club. The Diamondbacks apparently still see some of the promise he showed in 2010 and 2011. Brett Jackson should stand as a cautionary tale for Cubs fans, eager to see young prospects, such as Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant. While Jackson had his detractors early on, the consensus still held that he should be an All-Star type player. The hype that followed Jackson rivals that of what Kris Bryant garners today. In Jackson’s defense, he was a big name in an incredibly shallow pond. The Cubs system, depleted after years of a win-now mentality, was rather exhausted. Nowadays, one could a case for any of the Cubs top 10 prospects being No.1 in any other system.
In today’s age, we are perhaps too eager to praise top prospects as savants. While yes, in some cases our preemptive assertions are warranted, cases such as Jackson serve as a cautionary tale. As we enter a new day in Cubs history, we need to be cautiously optimistic. Not every prospect will be a future HOFer, we must keep our high expectations in check. Brett Jackson’s fall from grace, being traded for a fellow minor leaguer, is proof enough of the harshness of baseball.
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