The Chicago Cubs have traded outfielder Brett Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitching prospect Blake Cooper. Here's a report.
Blake Cooper, RHP: Cooper was a 12th round pick by the Diamondbacks from the University of South Carolina in 2010. He was a starting pitcher in college and an effective one, posting a 13-2, 2.76 ERA with a 126/39 K/BB in 137 innings as a senior, but in pro ball he has pitched primarily in relief. He spent parts of three seasons with Visalia in the California League, posting a 3.21 ERA with a 90/33 K/BB in 87 innings, and continued pitching well after moving up to Double-A Mobile (2.45 ERA, 61/32 K/BB in 77 innings). He has struggled with Triple-A Reno (6.00 ERA in 24 innings, 20/17 K/BB).
Cooper is a 5-11, 190 pound right-hander born March 30, 1988. His key pitch is a sinker in the 87-90 MPH range. His college starter background shows in his varied slider, curveball, change-up arsenal, though his small frame moved him to the bullpen in pro ball. Although effective at lower levels, his command hasn't been good enough for him to succeed in Triple-A, granted the sample is fairly small. If he can sharpen his command he has a chance to contribute as a middle reliever.
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Brett Jackson, OF: A first round pick in 2009 from the University of California, Jackson was considered to be one of Chicago's top prospects for several years due to his combination of power and speed. However, he's had serious problems with his swing mechanics and resulting inability to make contact, hitting just .175/.303/.342 with 59 strikeouts in 120 major league at-bats. He's also had problems staying healthy and has not played well for Triple-A Iowa the last two years, hitting just .223/.300/.367 in 215 at-bats in 2013 and .210/.300/.352 in 219 at-bats this year.
Jackson is listed at 6-2, 210, a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born August 2, 1988. He is a good defensive outfielder and the physical tools that made him a promising prospect are still there. However, his contact problems showed no signs of improving, ending any future in a Cubs system brimming with hitting talent.
ANALYSIS: Jackson clearly needs a change of scenery and starting over in a new organization is in his best interests. From Chicago's point of view, Cooper might be a workable middle reliever with his sinker, generating a non-zero return for a player that the Cubs had no further use for. For Arizona, Jackson is a lottery ticket but didn't cost much.