There is a long list of former Chicago Cubs prospects that never panned out the way fans hoped and Brett Jackson may be near the top of that list.
It has been a minute since I wrote a new Where Are They Now piece but I am back. The last one checked in on former Cubs pitcher Thomas Diamond.
Like a lot of frustrating Cubs news we have heard this offseason, Jackson was comparatively just as annoying.
I’m not saying non-tendering Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, and Ryan Tepera were the wrong moves, but they aren’t popular moves from the casual fan perspective.
Like Almora and Schwarber, Jackson is a former Cubs’ top prospect who never reached his potential. However, Jackson was on a level of bad that makes even Almora look like a successful prospect.
Jackson finished his major league career batting .175 with four homers and nine RBIs. That batting average isn’t going to cut it at the big league level.
“As far as tools, I know he swings and misses a lot and that’s been the knock on him, but as far as tools, speed and power combination, playing in an incredible conference, I looked at this guy and said ‘he’s a lock No. 1 pick.”– Harold Reynolds, MLB Network
Before the Theo Epstein regime entered the Cubs family, Jackson was the phenom prospect Cubs fans were excited about.
The Cubs selected Jackson out of the University of California in the first round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Stephen Strasburg, Mike Minor, Zach Wheeler, A.J. Pollock, and Mike Trout were all selected ahead of him.
Some notable players taken after Jackson include James Paxton, Nolan Arenado, Billy Hamilton, and Jason Kipnis. The list goes on. I’ll save you the pain.
Luckily, the Cubs selected DJ LeMahieu with their second-round pick. Too bad they eventually traded him for Ian Stewart. That’s a story for another day that probably brings more agony than Jackson’s lack of development.
That interview took place after the Cubs completed their 2012 season, one in which they finished last in the NL Central and lost 101 games. I have to give him credit, he tried to spin his 21-for-115 season into a positive. He failed.
Jackson never played in the majors with the Cubs again after the 2012 campaign. After spending the entire 2013 and 2014 seasons in the minors, the Cubs traded Jackson to the Diamondbacks for Blake Cooper in August of 2014.
Cooper played for the Iowa Cubs in 2015 and called it quits after the year.
I haven’t had anything positive to say about Jackson in this piece, but I’m supposed to be the irrational fan. However, I commend Jackson for his words in the above Instagram post after the Cubs won the World Series in 2016.
Jackson is a great example of how hard it is to be great at the major league level. The outfielder was a star in college but something just didn’t click professionally. Maybe it was the pressure of being a first-round pick. Maybe it was because he was playing for the Cubs organization that, at the time, was going through a complete revamp of its front office, scouting, and player development.
Whatever it was, he could easily resent the Cubs franchise and I wouldn’t blame him considering all the fans he probably had in his direct messages on social media telling him he was bad. Nonetheless, that is what comes with being in the public eye and part of a historic organization.
You can’t even recognize Jackson anymore with the hair and mustache he’s sporting. I actually kind of respect it. He could go to Wrigley Field the next time fans are allowed to enter and not one soul would know who he is.
It’s a shame things didn’t work out with the Cubs, but it seems Jackson has moved on with his life and is happy.
If there’s a player you’re interested in learning more about, tweet at me @CodyOnTap.