Age 17 (11/27/1996)
2013 Team: None
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 19
How acquired—Signed as free agent Aug. 1, 2013
Prior to Cubs
Jimenez was considered one of the top international prospects heading into the July 2 signing period. Here's what Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel had to say, "Jimenez is a fine prospect. He ran a 6.72 in the 60 last January which is an above average to plus time but players in Latin countries are coached on how to post fast times and generally get the most out of the showcase culture. Jimenez's speed plays more to average during games, likely losing a step as he fills out. He's fine defensively and his arm is often average but, at this age, arm strength can vary event-to-event and some have put a 55 on his arm. While Jimenez hasn't hit in games like many scouts hoped he would or his tools would suggest, he isn't a wild-hacking all-power guy. He actually has a bat path that's in the zone a long time with power created by bat speed and strength rather than a steep angle that sacrifices contact."
Jimenez hasn't debuted for the Cubs. He did attend fall instructional league, and while fellow July 2 prospect Gleyber Torres played in seven games, Jimenez didn't appear in any of the structured games.
It will be interesting to see if they return Jimenez back the Dominican for his first pro season in the Summer League or leave him stateside to play in the Arizona Rookie League and train under the watchful eye of the development staff at the new facility in Mesa. The Cubs paid Jimenez $2.8 million, the top bonus for a July 2 prospect, as the Cubs loaded up on international teenagers in 2013. The new Dominican facility as well as the bonuses handed out in 2013, have made the Cubs a serious player in the Latin American market, something that's been lacking for the past 20 years.
Brett Jackson, OF
Age 25 (8/2/1988)
2013 Teams: Iowa Cubs, Pacific Coast League, (AAA); Tennessee Smokies, Southern League, (AA); Mesa Cubs, Arizona Rookie League, (rehab)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 34
How acquired—Drafted in first round in 2009, # 31 overall
Prior to Cubs
Jackson played his prep ball at Miramonte High School in Northern California and was an All-CIF shortstop, hitting .385 with four homers and 34 RBI his senior season. He was not drafted and headed to the University of California-Berkeley and got 61 at-bats as a freshman, hitting .230 and made 19 starts in center field. Jackson became a full-time starter as a sophomore, leading the team in stolen bases with 12 while hitting .307 with four homers and 40 RBI. He earned honorable mention all-PAC 10 honors. Jackson establish himself as a pro prospect at the Cape Cod League in 2008 with the Cottuit Kettlers, ranked the 8th best prospect in the Cape. He was named a 2009 first-team preseason All-American by Baseball America, and upped his average to .321 as a junior earning first-team All-Pac 10 honors. The Cubs used the 31st overall pick on Jackson.
His pro career got off to a good start making his pro debut July 1 for Mesa and before the summer was over he had made stops in Boise and Peoria. He batted .318 with eight homers and 36 RBI in 53 games and was named the third best prospect in the Northwest League. His rise through the minors continued in 2010 as he split the season between Daytona (67 games) and Tennessee (61 games). He was named to the Florida State League All-Star team and twice earned player of the week award honors. His slash line of .316/.420/.517 earned him a trip to the Futures All-Star game for Team USA. Jackson finished his second pro season hitting .297/.395/.493 and showed some power with 12 homers to go along with 30 stolen bases. Jackson quickly became regarded as one of the Cubs' top prospects and didn't disappoint in 2011 with solid seasons at Tennessee and Iowa. He upped his homer total to 20 between the two leagues, earned Southern League all-star honors, and hit .297/.338/.551 with 10 homers in his 48 games in AAA.
Some hoped Jackson would start 2012 in center field for the Cubs but David DeJesus was signed as a free agent and Jackson started the year back in Iowa. He couldn't repeat the numbers or the success of 2011. Jackson's strikeout numbers, which had been high throughout his career, escalated even more (33.8%), his walk totals dropped (career low 10.1%) and his batting average suffered. Despite the struggles at AAA, Jackson was promoted to Chicago and made his MLB debut at Dodger Stadium, going 2-4 with a walk and a run scored on Aug. 5. He hit four homers in 44 games but hit .175 with 59 strikeouts in 120 at-bats.
As bad as 2012 was, 2013 was even worse. Jackson's batting stance, placement of his hands and a new swing were all hot topics during the off-season as everyone had advice to get the left-hander back on track. He started the season at AAA Iowa but never got on track hitting .223/.300/.367 in 61 games and spent two stints on the DL with turf toe and a strained right calf. Jackson's swing-and-miss woes continued, fanning 77 times in 215 at-bats. After four games of rehab in Mesa, Jackson spent the rest to the season at AA Tennessee. He played all three outfield positions, and was 19-95 (.200) in 30 games.
It may be a tough task for Jackson to hold onto his 40-man roster spot if his struggles at the plate continue. He should start the season back in Iowa, and if he wants to ever make it back to the majors, he needs to correct the strikeout problem and put more balls in play. His other tools are above average but not enough to overcome the shortcomings at the plate. It may be a little early to write Jackson out of the Cubs plans but 2014 will go along way in shaping that future.