The Diamondbacks have acquired former first-round pick and top prospect Brett Jackson from the Cubs in exchange for minor league reliever Blake Cooper, the Cubs announced. The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro tweets that Jackson will be assigned to Triple-A Reno in the D’Backs organization. Piecoro adds that Jackson had been claimed off waivers prior to the trade’s completion.
Jackson, 26, rated as one of the game’s top 100 prospects from 2010-12, according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus (he topped out at No. 32 on BA’s list and No. 44 on BP’s list). When his stock was at its highest, BA likened him to Jim Edmonds, noting that he had that type of ceiling at the plate, if not that type of Gold Glove caliber defense in center field. However, Jackson’s swing-and-miss tendencies caused his stock to plummet, as a problem he looked to have eliminated at the Double-A level resurfaced in Triple-A and still has yet to be corrected. Jackson was batting just .210/.298/.348 with a 37.3 percent strikeout rate for Triple-A Iowa this season and will look to deliver on some of his once sky-high potential in a new organization.
Cooper, also 26, was a 12th-round pick by the Diamondbacks in 2010 and reached Triple-A for the first time in 2014. Though he’s struggled to a 6.00 ERA in 24 innings there, Cooper was excellent at Double-A this year, posting a 1.85 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 34 frames. His command has faltered since moving up to the top minor league level, as he’s walked 17 hitters in his 24 innings at Reno. The 5’11”, 190-pound righty has never ranked among Arizona’s top 30 prospects, according to BA, and he didn’t rank on MLB.com’s midseason list of the D’Backs’ top 20 prospects either. In parts of five minor league seasons, Cooper has a 3.27 ERA with a 217-to-98 K/BB ratio (seven of those free passes were intentional) in 236 2/3 innings.
Because Jackson was waived by an NL team, the D’Backs had the second-highest priority of any club in placing a claim (by virtue of the second-worst record in the NL). Only the Rockies had a higher priority, and it’s not a surprise to see a team with as many outfield options as Colorado pass on a contact-challenged outfielder such as Jackson.