The Chicago Cubs recently promoted prospects Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, and both were in the lineup to begin a road series against the San Diego Padres on Monday, August 6. After starting and batting second on Sunday, Jackson was placed in the leadoff spot for Monday's game. Vitters, who had a pinch hit appearance on Sunday, got his first major league start, playing third base and batting seventh on Monday. Unfortunately, neither player was effective, and the Cubs lost to the Padres by a score of 2-0.
Jackson may not be ready to hit at the top of a major league batting order. His four strikeouts on Monday night should not surprise anyone who has followed his minor league career. At Triple-A Iowa this year, Jackson had 158 strikeouts in 407 at-bats. Since joining the Cubs' organization in 2009, he has struck out 478 times in 402 games. As fans, we knew Jackson would struggle to make contact at times, and it does make sense to get experience against major league pitching. It may be better for the team, though, if he bats lower in the order, giving the middle hitters more runners to drive in.
Vitters struck out twice in his four at-bats on Monday and stranded four base runners. He is hitless in five at-bats so far. Overall, Vitters has not had as much trouble with strikeouts as Jackson has, totaling 323 in 529 career minor league games. His numbers at Iowa this season, including a .304 batting average and a .356 on-base percentage, prove he can hit. Hopefully things will start falling in his favor, and Vitters can begin contributing to the Cubs' offense.
Monday's loss was the team's sixth in a row. Still, fans know the rest of this season is a learning process and a time for growth. Any progress made on the field will be more important than the outcome of each game. As a fan, I am hoping to see Jackson and Vitters contribute and head into the 2013 season with experience and confidence.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.
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