Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson: Who's Hot and Who's Not Among Cubs Top Prospects

Eli GreenspanSenior Analyst IApril 13, 2012

Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson: Who's Hot and Who's Not Among Cubs Top Prospects

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    Who's hot?

    Who's not? 

    Minor League Baseball is underway and it is time to get a look at who is making noise and who is causing a stink.

    It is going to be an exciting year for the Cubs and we will see many new faces both from outside the organization as well as in-house options.

    Let's explore some of those guys who are off to good starts out of the gate.  

HOT: Anthony Rizzo

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    Through seven games, Rizzo is hitting .333 with three home runs while drawing two walks as compared to seven strikeouts.

    It is definitely the kind of hot start you want to see from a top prospect, someone the Cubs traded a very talented pitcher for. 

    There isn't much standing in his way, besides Bryan LaHair, who is 5-for-12 to start the year with a home run.

    What bodes well for Rizzo is the fact that LaHair can play in the outfield so if the Cubs call on Rizzo, it doesn't necessarily mean the end of LaHair. 

HOT: Josh Vitters

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    Vitters is off to a good start, albeit being a six-game stint.

    Vitters is 9-for-20 (.450) through six games with five RBIs.

    The talent in Triple-A certainly creates good competition, with top prospects Rizzo, Vitters, and Brett Jackson all nearing the majors.

HOT: Nicholas Struck

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    Struck has quietly made progress in the Cubs minor league system.

    He is a 39th round pick back in 2009, but has continued to have success at every level. 

    He reached Triple-A last season and posted a 5.20 ERA in 11 starts. He will begin the year in Double-A again after posting a 2.31 ERA in six starts.

    So far this season, he is 1-1 with 15 strikeouts and a 2.25 ERA in 12.0 innings.

    He has no expectations, so he's pitching with nothing to lose.  

NOT: Brett Jackson

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    Brett Jackson got off to a good start going 7-for-16, but has slowed down in his past three games going 1-for-13 with 5 strike outs. I would not worry too much, as it is still early and Jackson has already shown clutch and timely hitting. 

    We will monitor the situation but all signs point to him reaching Chicago at some point this season. 

NOT: Casey Weathers

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    Casey Weathers hasn't been able to make much of his early appearances thus far in Double-A.

    Weathers came over with Ian Stewart this offseason for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu. The Cubs hope he can be a valuable arm in the bullpen.  

    However, in 2.1 innings of work (two appearances), he's surrendered three runs and four walks, while only striking out one.

    Weathers posted a 5.32 ERA in 44 games last season so hopefully this is not a sign of things to come.  

NOT: Matthew Szczur

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    Szczur is off to a rocky start in Single-A Daytona, hitting .182 (4-for-22) with four walks to five strikeouts. He is seeing pitches, a sign by his four walks, but is not making much contact thus far.

    He finished the year hitting .260 in Daytona, so if he can find success early he may see some time in Double-A Tennessee.  

    Overall in 2011, Szczur hit .293 through 109 games with 10 home runs and a .335 OBP.

Big League Shout Out: Steve Clevenger

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    Steve Clevenger. Have you heard of him?

    He is tearing it up for the Cubs and is catching some great games too.

    Both Jeff Samardzija eight and two-thirds outing and Matt Garza's win today were caught by Clevenger. That isn't a knock on Soto, but it is a sign of promise from a young catcher. 

    Clevenger, 26, is 6-for-9 through 4 games and will likely see a decent amount of time this season backing up Geovany Soto.