Cubs prospect Brett Jackson “has completely overhauled his swing”

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Cubs outfielder Brett Jackson ranked among Baseball America‘s top 100 prospects in 2010, 2011, and 2012, but the big knock against him was a very high strikeout rate and questions about whether he’d be able to hit for a decent batting average in the majors.

This year Jackson showed very good power at Triple-A, but hit just .256 with 158 strikeouts in 106 games and then struggled mightily with the Cubs, whiffing in 59 of his 120 at-bats.

Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports that Jackson “has completely overhauled his swing” this offseason in an effort to cut down on the strikeouts, working with manager Dale Sveum and various Cubs coaches.

“I think he’s got a good base to work with going into the rest of the winter and going into spring training to understand the art of hitting, so to speak,” Sveum told Muskat. “Sometimes it gets lost and taught the wrong way.”

Obviously if Jackson can cut down on his strikeouts while not losing the other skills that made him a top prospect in the first place that would be great for the Cubs, but it’ll be interesting to see if having a 23-year-old “overhaul” his swing leads to unintended changes that hurt him overall.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.