With the second half underway and the Cubs rebuilding process in full swing, its once again time to take a look at the future of the club.
The Iowa Cubs are in the midst of a post-Rizzo era where run production is at a premium. But like all things in life, the show must go on. Brett Jackson, who was projected to post Rizzo-like numbers in the first half, has struggled mightily. Perhaps the top prospect will turn over a new leaf in the upcoming months and show scouts and Cubs management what he is truly capable of, or maybe not.
Jackson went 5-for-23 (.217) last week and showed no indication of climbing out of the massive rut he currently is in. He did tally four RBI and a run, but that is far from the type of production you look for out of one of your top guys. Up until Tuesday, Jackson had struck out at least once in 20 straight games. This cold streak dropped the sluggers average down to .258.
Baseball is a game of averages and slumps are bound to happen, but Jackson has been slumping for a majority of the season. Lets hope that theory comes into play soon because he is in desperate need of a confidence boost.
Josh Vitters had a solid week, going 8-for-26 (.307) to push his season average into the .300s. He also recorded three doubles and four RBI on the week. Its imperative that Vitters carries some of the offensive load while Jackson figures things out.
The third baseman seems comfortable at the plate and confident in his approach. Im not convinced that Vitters is a part of the long-term plan for Theo and Co., but an average climbing into the .300s never hurts anyones chances.
Junior Lake had a rather pedestrian week at the plate. The highly-touted prospect was 6-for-27 (.222) for the week on his way to scoring four runs, driving in two and swiping four bases. His usually sparkling OBP took a hit last week largely in part to his 10 strikeouts. Lake needs to cut down in his Ks and focus on drawing out at-bats and taking the occasional walk.
Tennessee ace Eric Jokisch improved to 5-1 with the Smokies after his most recent win. Jokisch dealt an absolute gem, allowing no runs on one hit in five innings of work. The stingy right handers stock is rising substantially due to a number of consecutive lights-out starts. Jokisch is climbing the ranks and proving that he not only has the right stuff, but the right attitude on the bump.
Matt Loosen has been outstanding in Daytona all season and his last outing was just as good. Loosen went seven and a third, surrendering one run on five hits while fanning six. Charlotte had runners in scoring position in all four of the first frames but Loosen successfully shut the door each time. After that, it was relatively smooth sailing for the right hander.
Loosen now holds the best record in the Florida State League at 8-3. He has raised some eyebrows this season, but I still only have him labeled as an interesting prospect because time is of the essence. Loosen is 23 years old and needs to be producing these types of stats at the Triple A or Double A levels. For Matt Loosen, its time to take the next step.
Javier Baez continues to beat the leather off the ball and last week was no exception. The young gun was 10-for-22 (.454) with four runs, seven RBI and six extra-base hits including two round-trippers. Baez continues to make juvenile mistakes, such as getting picked off and getting caught stealing in the same game, but all is well as long as he can post a 1.405 OPS like he did last week.
Joe Musso contributed to this update.