It is no surprise that first baseman Anthony Rizzo and center fielder Brett Jackson did not make the Cubs’ roster. With this said, nobody expects the rising stars to stay in the minor leagues for long – the two represent the Cubs’ future.
Theo Epstein made it clear from day one that he is looking to build sustained success. To do this, the Cubs’ president of baseball operation feels that getting young talent like Jackson and Rizzo the most game experience possible is a must. For now, the Cubs future has been optioned to triple-A Iowa, but for good reason.
Cubs fans might be discourage by not getting the chance to see some of the top MLB prospects in action. And at first glance, they have a valid argument.
Both Rizzo and Jackson had impressive springs, yet neither had much of a chance to make the 25-man roster.
Manager Dale Sveum committed to giving Bryan LaHair the first basemen job early in spring saying he provides the club with the best short-term option. However, a case could be made for Rizzo.
Despite Rizzo outperforming LaHair in batting average, RBIs, and homeruns this spring, the up-in-coming star will take a back seat for now. But, there is a means to Epstein’s madness – he does not want the rookie to be called up too soon, again.
In June of last year, the 21-year-old Rizzo made his first major league appearance with the Padres. In his short time in the bigs, Rizzo struggled batting .141 with only one homerun and nine RBIs. In Epstein’s eyes there is no need to rush Rizzo.
As for Jackson, the team’s first round pick in 2009, financial ties prevent him from making his major league debut. Just shy of $29 million is dedicated towards three veteran outfielders, but, this does not mean a mid-season Jackson call-up is out of the question.
Just like Rizzo, Epstein sees no point in calling up Jackson unless he is playing everyday. Both the club and Jackson will benefit from optioning the promising outfielder to the minors. While Jackson will get more playing time, the team hopes to build the value of veteran players like Soriano and Byrd in the first two months of the season to increase their trade stock and acquire prospects.
In other words, don’t expect to see Jackson with the team unless Byrd or Soriano are shopped by the deadline, or if injuries occur in the outfield.
Each circumstance is different, but the overlying question in both Jackson and Rizzo’s case remains the same – When? When will each promising prospect get the chance to prove themselves in the majors? Regardless, the Cubs rebuilding future looks bright with young talent such as Rizzo and Jackson lurking in the shadows.