If you are a Cubs fan, and haven’t been under a rock all morning, you’ve probably heard that prospects Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson have been called up to the major leagues. With the Cub’s playoff hopes dead and buried since pretty much May, at this point the best course of action is to start working toward the future. The first step in that process occurred last month when slugging phenom Anthony Rizzo was called up. A few more happened just last week when Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson, and Geovany Soto, none of which figured into President of baseball operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer’s long term vision were traded away foe prospects. This morning marked another big step toward the future.
Third baseman Josh Vitters was once one of baseballs most highly touted prospects. Drafted by the Cubs in the first round, third overall in the 2007 amateur draft, he’s had a lot of ups and downs. Defense has always been a shortcoming of his, as has plate discipline. However, there was no question that his swing is one of the most remarkable in the minor leagues, and the potential to hit is there. It may seem like Vitters has dwelled in the Cub’s farm system forever, but at 22 years of age, he was one of the youngest players in all of AAA.
Brett Jackson took a different route to where he is. Also a first round pick Jackson was selected with the 31st overall pick. He was drafted two years after Vitters in 2009, but being that he was drafted out of college, and Vitters high school is a year older. Jackson has excelled in every level of the minor leagues. Known as a five-tool player, he has power, speed, defense, and a knack for taking walks. However, this year he has been striking out at an alarming rate. At .256, his AAA batting average is lower than it has ever been in his professional career. However, he has maintained a .817 OPS due to his ability to take walks and hit for power and extra bases.
Many experts have questioned whether or not these two are ready for the major leagues. Perhaps they are not, but even f that is the case, it is what’s best not only for them, but for the Cubs organization as well. Whatever they are to do in the major leagues, feast or famine it’s far more beneficial to everyone involved than whatever they would have done over the next two moths in AAA’s Pacific Coast Leagues, which a hitters paradise. Each of them have their shortcomings, but an extra two months in the minor leagues is not going to magically fix them. Getting exposed to major league pitching is what is going to prepare them for the future, not slugging away on the career minor league junk-ballers of the PCL.
All of this being said, while Jackson and Vitters are both big building blocks to the future of the Cubs as an organization, they are not the pnenoms that Anthnony Rizzowas coming up, and Starlin Castro was two years before them. Now all prospects come to the big leagues slugging away as Rizzo and Castro did, so they may require more patience from both fans and the organization alike. I have little doubt that the new Cubs regime will do everything they can to properly develop the big league club’s newest additions. I just hope that the fans are equally as patient when they debut at Wrigley Field next week.