Throughout the Jim Hendry era in Chicago there were several failed prospects that never panned out, which consistently left the Cubs with a very weak farm system. As times have changed fringe prospects simply do not have a place in a soon to be contending organization.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have taken action on this matter trading the former 2009 first round draft pick Brett Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league relief pitcher Blake Cooper.
Jackson was once near the top of young talent in the Cubs’ organization showing a tool-filled upside, with 20-20 potential and a plus defensive upside. Jackson’s tools and potential were consistently slowed by his rampant strikeout rate. He was struck out 693 times in a 578 game minor league career.
The former top prospect saw time in the MLB in 2012. He played 44 games for the Cubs during the second half of the season. Despite posting a .303 OBP and 22 BB, Jackson struck out 59 times in just 120 AB’s and only batted .175. A near 50 percent K rate was enough to drive the Cubs away from calling the center fielder back up to Wrigley and he has failed to prove himself in the time since in both AA and AAA play.
Jackson is approaching his 26th birthday and will need a drastic change of approach at the plate for him to ever be able to reach any upside potential at the major league level.
On the other hand, the Cubs are getting a player with similar age and history in Blake Cooper. The 26 year old right hander has appeared in 192 minor league games since being a 12th round draft pick for Arizona in 2010. Cooper was selected out of the University of South Carolina. Cooper has a career 3.27 ERA but since being promoted to AAA Reno earlier this season he has posted a 6.00 ERA over 17 appearances. He’s also struggling with command, amassing 17 walks and 20 strikeouts.
Cooper has not seen the major leagues yet but the Cubs will look to refine his command. Then they’ll most likely give him a shot to join the relief staff at AAA Iowa.
The trade spells the end of an era for the Cubs who are continuing to part ways with a large amount of Hendry era prospects, specifically those that haven’t worked out over an extended period of time. Both components of this trade will need to change their approach to better execute their skills as both Arizona and Chicago will look to find some upside in the two career minor league players.