Cubs Deal Former 1st Round Draft Pick to D'backs

The Cubs have traded OF Brett Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league RHRP Blake Cooper

Jackson, who turned 26 last week, was the Cubs 1st round draft pick (31st overall) in June 2009 out of the University of California, and he was rated the Cubs #1 prospect by Baseball America as late as 2012. He also was rated a "Top 100" Prospect by both BA and Baseball Prospectus for three consecutive seasons (2010-2012). He played in the MLB All-Star Futures Game in 2009, was a member of Team USA and played in the Pan-American Qualifying Tournament in 2010, and he played in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) with the Mesa Solar Sox in 2010.  

Jackson was added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster when he was called up to the big leagues on August 5, 2012, after hitting 256/338/479 at AAA Iowa with 15 HR, 22 doubles, 27 SB, and a PCL league-leading 12 triples and 156 strikeouts. Jackson hit 175/303/342 in 44 MLB games for the Cubs after being called-up, and then he spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons in the minors, first at Iowa and then at AA Tennessee in 2013, and back at Iowa again in 2014. 

Jackson hit 223/300/367 at Iowa and (after getting demoted) just 200/309/284 at Tennessee in 2013, as the Cubs tried to get him to be more aggressive at the plate and not take so many strikes. He didn't do much better this season, as strikeouts continue to be his achilles heel (210/298/348 at Iowa with 94 K in 252 PA in 2014).  

At his best, B-Jax is a gap-hitter with XBH power. a good baserunner with the ability to steal bases, and an outstanding defensive CF albeit with a below-average arm. He also has been a very passive hitter for much of his career, drawing a lot of walks but also getting called out on strikes quite a bit (29% K-rate and 12% BB-rate in 2427 career minor league PA). He generally has hit RHP much better than lefties throughout his career, so if he does surface in the big leagues again, he would probably be a platoon guy.   

Like Jackson, Cooper is 26 years old. He was selected by Arizona in the 12th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of South Carolina, and he has moved steadily if somewhat slowly through the D'backs system, never appearing on any "Top Prospects" lists over the years, and only just recently getting a promotion to AAA Reno (PCL) in what is his 5th minor league season. He has put up a 6.00 ERA and 1.75 WHIP with 25 hits allowed and 17/20 BB/K in 24.0 IP at AAA since his promotion.

In 236.2 IP in 192 career minor league games, Cooper has a collective 3.27 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He has surrendered only 7 HR in his career (an outstanding 0.3 HR allowed per 9.0 IP), however, and that includes considerable time (73 games over three seasons) spent in the hitter-friendly California League. He was used as a closer his first three years in the D'backs system, but has been strictly a middle-reliever the last two seasons at AA and AAA.

Cooper was not on the Diamondbacks MLB 40-man roster, so he does not have to be added to the Cubs 40-man roster. He will be Rule 5 Draft eligible again post-2014 (as he was post-2013), but he is not a candidate to get added to the Cubs 40 at this point. He is the type of pitcher who gets a slot in the AFL, so I would not be surprised if he is one of the Cubs assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox after the season. The closest Cub organizational statistical comp to Cooper is probably Dae-Eun Rhee, except Rhee is a AA/AAA back-end of the rotation starter and Cooper is a AA/AAA middle-reliever. But they are a similar age (Rhee is 25 and Cooper is 26) and get very similar results across the board.  

Jackson supposedly was first claimed off waivers by Arizona and then the trade was made. For the trade to have happened that way (D'backs claim player, and then Cubs get another player back), B. Jackson must have been claimed off Trade Assignment Waivers rather than off Outright Assignment Waivers, so the Cubs clearly weren't trying to outright Jackson to the minors when he was claimed. The Cubs might have anticipated the claim, however, if the Cubs and Diamondbacks had agreed to the trade in advance, in which case it would just have been a matter of the Cubs requesting Trade Waivers (really just a formality in this case) and then Arizona making a claim (only the Colorado Rockies had a higher Trade Waiver claim-priority, and the Cubs probably knew the Rockies weren't interested in B-Jax). 

Note that although players on MLB 40-man rosters--including players optioned to the minors--must be placed on Trade Assignment Waivers before they can be traded after 7/31, it was not necessary for Arizona to place Cooper on Trade Waivers because he was not on an MLB 40-man roster. 

The D'backs had one slot open on their 40-man roster prior to the trade, so they don't have to DFA anybody to make room for Jackson. He will have one minor league option left next season. And the Cubs now have one slot open on their 40-man roster, although there apparently is no immediate need for that slot.

Brett Jackson is the second Cal Golden Bear to leave the Cub organization in the last 24 hours, as catcher Chadd Krist (Cubs 2012 9th round draft pick) was released yesterday. (Krist had been at Daytona). 


I wish him luck. Man...Tim Wilken sure has had some prolific busts with his 1st rounders for the Cubs - Baez not one yet.

It pisses me off because at the time there were no bona fide TOR pitching prospects in the farm system, and in 2009 there were several - at least four - pitchers who panned out, taken after this bust.

Thankfully, he is no longer in the decision-maker seat. But...Boxberger, Skaggs, Paxton, et. al.

The vast majority of 31st picks are failures. I don't think this has much to say about Wilken as far as a scout is concerned. He was also working under the constraints of Zell, who was trying to sell the team at the time.

Yeah, for 31, Greg Maddux and Jarrod Washburn are about it:

That is pretty interesting that in the history of the draft, players chosen 31st have a poor success rate.

My point was that there were players of need taken afterBJackson was drafted even from the 2nd and later rounds that have become productive MLB players, if not All Stars.

He had an MO of high strikeout rates, and that never changed. I am blaming Tim Wilken for a poor evaluation, as well as denial of solid pitching later. And, because...well...he knows Jim Hendry.

Phil, what are the injuries to Andreoli, Silva.and Balaguert?

HAGSAG: I don't know about Andreoli and Silva, but Balaguert supposedly had a sore foot. He has been playing in AZL games the past few days, and he's running full steam (he legged out a triple the other night and did not favor either foot), so he should be back at Kane County very soon.

"Cubs #1 prospect by Baseball America as late as 2012. "

Ahh the salad days of Jim Hendry

These photos of yesterday's Iowa game (from twitter sidebar) are incredible. The Bryant shots especially, but they're all good.

I repost here though, because the final shot in the series is a great one of B. Jackson hugging Bryant, and I find it slightly heartbreaking.

Nice photos. I think Olt has a fuller beard, does he not? That would explain the better at bats, me thinks.

Well yeah! Cap'n Happy was shaving him in his sleep!

AZ PHIL: Is Matt "Hail Ceasar!" toolsy enough to stick in the majors as a 4th or 5th outfielder?

Another Hendry former football player (he loves those) as you know - it seems like he just does not have much of a bat developing.

What is your opinion of him these days?

With more and more non-Hendry picks making it up the ranks - where is the motion for him (he is another former "Top Cubs Prospect" that we don't hear much about anymore). Thanks.

E-MAN: I actually like Matt Szczur. I think he'll eventually be an MLB 4th or 5th OF (a 5th OF being more of a PR and late-inning defensive replacement), but probably not with the Cubs.

Because the Cubs (presumably) will soon have a RH-heavy lineup, I would think most of the bench guys will be LH hitters. I suspect that's why the Cubs signed Ryan Sweeney through 2015 with a club option for 2016, and why they will probably want to retain Chris Coghlan and Luis Valbuena for at least a couple more seasons (both are under club control through 2016), even after the "core four" (now the "fab five") have arrived and they are no longer starters.   

those pictures are neat, btw if no one has noticed, Armando Rivero stats this year between AA and AAA:

1.71 ERA, 11 SV, 58 IP, 1.069 WHIP, 5.4 H/9, 4.2 BB/9, 14.3 K/9

he'll be 27 next year


Armando Rivero was a closer in Serie Nacional (the Cuban major league) before he defected in 2011, so he has a good chance to be in the Cub bullpen in 2015. Might even be the closer. He has a plus-splitter and a 94 MPH fastball, but he missed two seasons after defecting, so the Cubs moved him along very slowly in 2013 after they signed him in March. It looks like he's 100% back to where he was in 2010, though.

Been wondering when he gets his callup. Would've happened already if not for the strong performances of almost all Cubs MLB relievers.

pick 57 players that will get a hit today and win $5.6M*

(they have a quick pick option)

*if you win, I expect a tip :)

AZ Phil: quick update on the 40-man I noticed.....Fujikawa has been activated for a bit, and is no longer on the 60-man DL.

Love your write-ups & explanations of MLB transactions; great resource for Cubs fans everywhere.

ANKEITH: Thank you for catching that! It has been fixed.

Valbuena has the flu. Can't start until at least sunday.

ugly baez K in the 1st.

3rd strike was on a curve. he started his swing late...he still got the bat through the zone as the ball crossed the plate, but missed the ball completely.

if he can even marginally develop a better eye for hitting his swing will let him do some serious damage with it.

Can someone share info on Baez's minor league habits? Didn't I read somewhere that he started slow at each level but was able to learn/adjust? He did eventually walk in the minors right? He still has zero walks and that just isn't going to fly in the majors.

He started VERY slow at AAA. I think he'll take walks eventually but not many ... I'm thinking he's erring heavily on the side of using these atbats that don't effect the Cubs in the standings to get used to the pitching on a timing basis. That said he'll probably always be somewhat of a free swinger.

I honestly would never throw a pitch his way over the plate until he shows he will take a walk. Why let him kill you when he'll take himself out of the play? i think he'll figure it out, but until he does I wouldn't throw anything near him. There's no point.

He is looking very Sori-esque at this point -- with the count 0-2 or 1-2, there is no way the next pitch will be a strike, but he swings anyway. As has been mentioned, he has always had rough starts when he moves up a level. I'm sure he never saw anything like he has seen the last 2 days when he was at Iowa.

He gives away his third strike but it is probably because minor league pitchers often served up a mistake on pitcher counts. His natural abiliity is crazy good. He has only done it once that I've seen but he had a great at bat with about 12 pitches early on that showed he sort of gets it. Everyone is convinced he is Soriano and even tho that wouldn't be bad i think he's a unique talent. He does things with the bat that are amazing. The cubs can't be afraid to coach him just cuz they almost destroyed Castro. Order him to not swing on two strikes or at least choke up a half inch - it isn't rocket science. If they need to. Right now they don't.

For now, leave him alone. Let him get humbled. This is the time for that. 4 games in Vegas, Soler is 0-for-14. Distractions?

Bring. Him. Up. That is all.

the games were vs. Las Vegas but home in Iowa

Also, over that same stretch (Soler only started the last 3 games), Bryant went 1-13.

So we can rule out distraction.

Dice games in the alley?

Junior Lake sent to AAA. 20 days or less won't burn his last option says AZ Phil.

Q-MAN: That's correct.

So as long as Lake is recalled prior to September 4th, his last minor league option will be available in 2015. 

However, if Lake is not recalled prior to September 4th, his last minor league option will be spent this season and he will be out of minor league options in 2015.

Lake started TWO games since June 2nd. That's two and a half months ... wtf? Dude should have been in the minors eons ago.

I'm not a fan and I don't think he has a future with the Cubs, but that's just ridiculous for a player his age on a last place ball club.

Edit: perhaps they did it so they could preserve his last option by sending him down closer to September roster expansion?

Unless he is recalled to replace a player on the Cubs MLB 25-man roster who is placed on the DL (or Bereavememt List, Paternity Leave, et al), Lake will have to spend at least 10 days at Iowa before he can be recalled.

Since they are unlikely to keep 14 pitchers on the 25-man roster after Saturday's start by Straily, the Cubs will probably option Straily back to Iowa on Sunday and recall either Logan Watkins, Mike Olt, Matt Szczur, or Jorge Soler.

What is your prognosis, AZ? You always kinda liked the kid and those of us who read your daily AZ attendance reports have always had a soft spot for him

O&B: I remember talking to a couple of scouts at an AFL game at HoHoKam Park back in 2011 when Junior Lake was playing for the Mesa Solar Sox, and both of them were convinced that Lake would end up being another Ben Francisco, but I would say he will be more like a RH version of Juan Francisco (at least offensively),

In essence Lake is a RH platoon outfielder with the capability to be a 20-20-20 guy (20 doubles, 20 HR, and 20 SB), but with a 30% K/PA rate and very few walks. I also doubt that he would be a long-term fit with the Cubs, but that doesn't mean he can't carve out a decent MLB career with another club (or clubs) where he would be a better fit. 

Remember, Lake is only 24 and he's been playing OF for only about a year. He handled himself very well after getting called-up in 2013, and he hit three HR in one Spring Training game this past March, which I have never seen anybody do before. He is still very raw and he has certainly been in a funk for most of 2014, but he could recover in 2015 and have a good career going forward. It's not all that unusual for a young player to have some ups & downs, sometimes from year-to-year. You just have to be patient and ride it out.  

BTW, Junior Lake and I go back a long way. I was hit on the chin by a Junior Lake wild throw from shortstop that sailed over the protective fence at Fitch Park back in 2008, and I have a scar to prove it. I said even back then that Lake needed to be moved to the outfield, but the Cubs didn't listen to me at the time. 

Thanks for that AZ, sounds like a pretty sane opinion. I'm just glad to see he has a little Francisco in him. I'm not picky about which one.

Not sure if this is accurate, but this person claims Olt has significantly widened his stance, and has a pic. Is this a ManRam tweak?

the best way to find out would be to take a guy who hasn't played a full season in many years due to injuries and sit him on the bench for 1/2 the games played.

until you do that it's hard to say how good he is.

i think that's how it works.

with Olt entering Saturday's game hitting .323 with nine doubles and seven home runs in his first 24 games with Iowa this season.

He attributed some of his success to widening his stance.

"(It) is allowing me to be really simple and repeat my mechanics a lot more consistently," Olt said. "I think it's just helping me track the pitches a lot better."

Iowa manager Marty Pevey said the change and the work with hitting coach Brian Harper has helped Olt stop his backside from collapsing on swings. The collapse, Pevey said, would often lengthen Olt's swing.

"Everything was uphill, and he didn't even pivot his back foot," Pevey said.

Awesome. Thank you!

Was Caeser called up today?

Yes the twitterverse is buzzing. Supposedly he gets added Sunday after Straily goes back down

@Tommy Birch

Matt Szczur not in the Iowa Cubs lineup tonight. Tweets swirling around that he's the man headed to Chicago, not Jorge Soler

I'm sure there's probably some way that this makes sense.

i just hope he's one of those guys that can come cold off the bench and produce because part-time play, injury/rest platoon matchup play, and pinch hitting/running is probably his future in the game.

He's a punchy, contact-oriented hitter, so that bodes well for coming in off the bench. Doesn't seem like a great fit for the Cubs, though. As AZ Phil has pointed out, there aren't going to be a lot of opportunities for a RH 5th outfielder on this team, especially as long as Ruggs is around to platoon with Sweeney/Coghlan.

I'm pretty sure they are bringing up the AAAA guys and leaving a decent prospect core in Iowa for two maybe three reasons:

1.) the younger guys are learning to win together and in a seriously positive mindset and culture. I think Straily talked about it. Maybe Iowa wins it all. Teaching winning.

2.) bi product is one more monster draft pick as big league club suffers.

3.) maybe one of the lesser prospects draws trade interest while getting MLB at bats.

Charlie, I think that Soler is still on the end of a pseudo rehab schedule? So maybe they are keeping him there for now for that reason?

And as far as anyone else coming up, we have Valbuena. so we're good.

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  • Hopefully Pirates don't call up A. Lincoln.

    jacos 7 hours 14 min ago view
  • j.buchanan going friday...should something like it.

    crunch 7 hours 22 min ago view
  • Wow. I didn't know they could do that.

    Nice for Willson, not so much for Addy.

    billybucks 7 hours 38 min ago view
  • Game is officially called...also officially a tie.

    Stats count, no make-up date of course.


    Rob G. 7 hours 40 min ago view
  • Yeah -- seeing the weather -- I hope KB and Rizz are inside, wrapped in blankets and drinking hot chocolate.

    billybucks 8 hours 26 min ago view
  • rain delay...thanks obama.

    crunch 9 hours 5 min ago view
  • Thanks again Phil. We actually were in Mesa and drove around. Hopefully, I am back for some Fall League. If not I have all of spring training (like the smart people who move here!)

    rvimpeny 10 hours 8 min ago view
  • What Rob G said.  I can't speak for Piittsburgh, but the other end of the state has had absolute crap weather for two days. Perfect day to take it easy.

    Transmission 10 hours 12 min ago view
  • tarp came off 10 minutes ago...let's do this.

    crunch 10 hours 26 min ago view
  • He will not pitch another game for Cubs

    /Unless injury in playoffs

    jacos 10 hours 43 min ago view
  • ~fart~

    jacos 10 hours 44 min ago view
  • Today is bullpen day

    jacos 10 hours 44 min ago view
  • 10/450 if they win WS

    jacos 10 hours 45 min ago view
  • Carrie Muskat [email protected]
    Even though Hammel is missing start, don't assume he'll not be on #Cubs postseason roster. Maddon says elbow problem isn't that bad

    Carrie Muskat [email protected]
    Maddon on #Cubs postseason rotation: "I don't want to announce anything. We haven't talked to anybody yet"

    Carrie Muskat [email protected]
    Maddon hopes Soler can take BP in Cincy, play in sim game Tue. "All of that should give us some kind of indication of where he's at"

    crunch 11 hours 2 min ago view
  • tarp on the field 40 minutes before gametime...meh.

    crunch 11 hours 5 min ago view
  • travel day + rain in Pittsburgh. Why risk injury?

    Rob G. 11 hours 8 min ago view