This right here is pt. 2 of the Chicago Cubs names to watch for series I’m doing. OF is slightly less scary than the IF, the one true prospect does live out here in Brett Jackson. The names aren’t as raw and there are some legit Major League contributors in the bunch, but some of these guys should be gone by July.

-Mauricio Rubio Jr.
Follow me on twitter, @MRubio52 

Outfield

Right Field. David DeJesus – His wife is pretty hot, and she’s a big Cubs fan. As for David, he’s an ok option in Right. His slash line will look a lot like Fukudome’s but it’ll come without the extreme salary and latent racism that Cubs fans seemed to start. He’s a guy that doesn’t do anything a lot, if that makes any sense. He doesn’t walk a lot, he doesn’t strike out a lot either. He doesn’t drive in a lot of runs, nor does he score a lot of runs. He’s above average in most categories, but his slugging percentage is low for a corner outfielder. He’s a solid signing, cheap and mildly effective. He’s not a difference maker, but he is a decent stopgap.

Center Field. Marlon Byrd –  It will be a bit painful to see him go, as he should at some point this year. Byrd is a hustle player with tangible talent. He was at his peak value in 2010 and since then has slid into “decent player” territory, which is fine for a contender, but it really isn’t what the Cubs need at this point. Byrd has always been solid but unspectacular throughout his career. He can help out a team for a stretch playoff run, he does well against both righties and lefties and plays a decent Center, but he’s not going to be a massive difference maker over an extended period of time. The projected haul he brings back should reflect that.

Left Field. Alfonso Soriano – His contract is an albatross and his production has been slipping ever since he put on the uniform, but Alfonso Soriano does get his fair share of unfounded criticism. Let’s be clear about this, Sori was never the player that the Cubs paid for in 2007, he wasn’t a stolen base machine and he couldn’t play Center under any circumstances. Hendry wildly overpaid for Sori hoping that an eventual championship would relegate his later years with the team as a victory lap instead of a painful slow death. Soriano is still due 54 mil through 2013 and he’s not going to be getting any better. All that said he works on his craft and his teammates love him to death. It’s not his fault that Hendry overpaid, we would all take that money if it was offered to us. What was he supposed to do, decline? Soriano is not a sure bet to post a + .300 OBP this year, nor is he a sure thing to slug +.470, which is an awful combination. He is a bad fielder and he doesn’t run anymore, so of course people will label him as lazy. He isn’t. He’s overpaid, but that isn’t his fault. Soriano is likely to be on the team in one form or another for awhile. His dollars will be incredibly hard to trade, but that won’t stop the Cubs from shopping him around and potentially paying the lion’s share of his contract to play elsewhere.

1. Brett Jackson – There are legit reasons to be excited with Brett Jackson the prospect. He’s been climbing the Baseball America top prospects list for the past three years and enters the 2012 season as the #32 prospect in all of Baseball. This also makes him the best prospect in the Cubs system. Jackson has handled the relatively aggressive promotion pattern well. His ceiling is up for debate, none of his tools are eye popping, but he can be a Mike Cameron/Curtis Granderson type at the dish. His defense projects well, some see him being an eventual gold glove winner. Jackson does strike out a lot, but he has a decent walk rate which mitigates the k’s somewhat. He should get half a season of Major League pitching under his belt this year. Anything less will be seen as a disappointment.

2. Reed Johnson – Remember when Reed Johnson was gone for a year and it was fine because the Cubs weren’t going to compete this year anyway and he isn’t a difference maker? Johnson struggles to OPS over .800 most years, when his BABIP isn’t insanely high he struggles to hit over .300, and he is adored by Cubs fans for some reason. He has his uses, mainly against lefty pitching, but he’s perfectly tradeable, and he should be moved to a contender by the trade deadline for a decent haul. He’s a guy that can help a contending team, and the Cubs aren’t one yet.

3. Tony Campana – I want to root for this guy. He has legit speed as evidenced by his 24 for 26 stolen base performance last year. But he needs to play center in order for him to have any offensive value and that’s where Brett Jackson lives. He looks like a prototypical 4th outfielder, but Theo loves guys that can burn and play good OF defense, so he’s likely to stick around and get some playing time. He needs to find some gap power quick to stick in the lineup, but that’s not too likely.

4. Matthew Szczur – He’s behind the curve thanks to his football playing days at Villanova. He’s raw and it shows. He’s not major league ready and his ceiling is up for debate. I think his ceiling is a moving target, he’s obviously fast (80 on the traditional scouting scale for speed), but his future depends on what he learns at the lower levels. He has time on his side, so if he learns how to command the strike zone a bit he can be a more interesting prospect.

5. Dave Sappelt – He’s a meh. It looks like he’s destined to be a fourth outfielder, he never really wowed down on the farm. He has no outstanding skill, and most of his tools are merely average. He has some pop in his bat, but not enough to justify regular playing time. He has some speed but not enough to crack a lineup. He plays good defense which should be enough to carry him on most Major League rosters, but that’s about it.

Pitchers tomorrow

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