MESA, Ariz. Brett Jackson has been better than advertised.
Thats the takeaway from Cubs manager Dale Sveum, who has been observing the 23-year-old outfielder for about a month now. Listening to scouts and watching minor-league video didnt tell the whole story.
When you see him in person, its been pretty impressive, every part of his game, Sveum said Wednesday. He comes to play every day. He comes to kick the other teams butt. Theres no doubt about it. (Hes) a very aggressive, confident kid whos probably going to end up playing here a long time.
So it becomes a question of when, not if, for Jackson, a 2009 first-round pick from Cal-Berkeley. Multiple club officials have noted that he already acts like he belongs.
Jackson is hitting .385 (5-for-13) in the Cactus League and has shown his speed on the bases and in the outfield. He fits Theo Epsteins ideal vision of a player who may not do one thing exceptionally well, but can make major contributions across the board.
The problem is that the Cubs have Marlon Byrd whos on an expiring contract in center field, plus Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus stationed at the corners. Right now, theres no room for Jackson on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.
I dont see that opportunity the way the roster is configured, Sveum said. You dont want the guy to sit on the bench. He still needs to go play. Unfortunately, theres not really an opening right now for that to happen.
Jackson has only played 48 games above the Double-A level, so the likely outcome is that hell play half the season at Triple-A Iowa. But is he ready for the majors?
I dont see why he wouldnt be ready, Sveum said. The last part of his game is probably just being a little better two-strike hitter, not putting himself in some of those counts with swinging and missing. As far as the ability, I dont see what else has to happen besides (that).