The MLB Rule 4 Draft (AKA "First-Year Player Draft") starts in about a half hour (2 PM ET, with the 1st round to be televised on ESPN2), and the latest prediction from Jim Callis at Baseball America
is Vanderbilt LHP David Price to TB at #1, Chatsworth (CA) HS 3B Mike Moustakas to KC at #2, and Cypress (CA) HS 3B Josh Vitters to the Cubs
As late as last night, Callis had Price going to TB at #1, Vitters going to KC at #2, and Norwell (IN) RHP Jarrod Parker going to the Cubs at #3. But the Cubs apparently prefer Vitters over Parker, and are poised to select the California third-sacker if the Royals do indeed take Moustakas with their #2 overall selection.
AZ PHIL UPDATE #1
: And as predicted by Jim Callis at BA, Josh Vitters
indeed is the Cubs #1 pick.
Vitters bats and throws right-handed, is 17 years old (he'll turn 18 in August), and checks in at 6'3 195.
In BA's scouting report on Vitters, they describe him as having outstanding bat-speed and hand-eye coordination, allowing him to make consistent contact. He hits the ball hard to all fields and adjusts well to off-speed pitches.
His main shortcoming at this point (so far) is an apparent lack of aptitude at 3B, but he does have a "third-baseman's arm," so it has been suggested that he could be moved to RF at some point if he is unable to improve his play at the hot corner. He also has average speed for a corner IF-OF and middle-of-the-order run producer.
Presuming they are able to sign Vitters, he will probably be assigned to AZL Mesa. The Cubs would not have to add Vitters to their 40-man roster until after the 2011 season, and if that were to happen, he would not be out of minor league options until Spring Training 2015, after Ramirez, D-Lee, and Soriano's contracts have expired. So Vitters is probably a "next generation" Cubs prospect.
The next Cubs selection will be pick #48, a so-called "sandwich pick" (so-named because these picks are "sandwiched" between the 1st and 2nd rounds), which the Cubs received as compensation for losing Type "B" FA OF Juan Pierre to the Dodgers after last season.
After making a selection at the #48 slot, the Cubs will not have another selection until the 3rd pick in the third round (#97). That's because their second round pick (#67) goes to the Washington Nationals as compensation for the Cubs signing FA OF Alfonso Soriano last November.
AZ PHIL UPDATE #2
: With the #48 pick (compensation for losing FA OF Juan Pierre to the Dodgers), the Cubs selected right-handed hitting (6'1 202) catcher Josh Donaldson
out of Auburn University.
A multi-sport (baseball/football/basketball) star in HS in Mobile, AL, Donaldson played 3B as a freshman at Auburn, and was moved to catcher in his sophomore season. So he has been catching for only two seasons, and is considered a "work in progress" defensively.
He hit .302 with 15 XBH in the wood-bat Cape Cod League last Summer (where he was selected to the Cape Cod League All-Star team), and was a power-hitting run producer for Auburn this past season, hitting 349/444/591, with 11 HR and 54 RBI, and 19 doubles. He also had 17 SB (3 CS) and 38/27 BB/K. He was in the Tigers lineup primarily for his powerful bat, not for his defense.
According to BA, Donaldson is an "aggressive hitter" who murders fast balls, but has some trouble with breaking balls (which sounds suspiciously like Jake Fox to me, and the Cubs already have one of those). He has an average arm, but was hampered this past season with a thumb injury. If the Cubs are able to sign him, look for Donaldson to be assigned to Boise.
The Cubs don't have a second round pick (that one goes to the Washington Nationals as compensation for the Cubs signing FA OF Alfonso Soriano last off-season), so their next pick will be the #3 pick in the third round (#97 overall).
AZ PHIL UPDATE #3
: And with their third selection in today's Rule 4 Draft (3rd pick in the 3rd round - #97 overall), the Cubs selected right-handed hitting Florida State second-baseman and 2007 ACC Player of the Year Tony Thomas
Thomas (5'10 180) led all of NCAA Div 1 in hits and doubles, was second in OBP, and 3rd in Avg in 2007, and had as many walks as strikeouts. According to BA, Thomas is a below-average defender with a below-average arm at 2nd base, with just average speed. A right-handed version of Mike Fontenot, perhaps?
Thomas also was a member of the National Honor Socieity while in high school.
If the Cubs are able to sign Thomas, he will (like Donaldson) probably be assigned to Boise, although as an advanced and highly successful college hitter (obviously one of the best in Division 1 in '07), and with no real 2B prospect presently at Peoria, Daytona, or Tennessee, Thomas could conceivably be assigned to a higher level at the outset, quite possibly Peoria.
AZ PHIL UPDATE #4
: With their 4th round selection (#127 overall), the Cubs selected Oregon State shortstop Darwin Barney
A 5'10 175 right-handed hitter, Barney was a member of the 2006 CWS champion Beavers, as well as Team USA. He hit 296/370/432 in 2007, with 4 HR and 48 RBI, a team-leading 18 doubles, 30/29 BB/K, and 12 SB (3 CS) in '07. As with Thomas, Barney could start his pro career at Peoria, since Dylan Johnston has struggled there and could be a candidate for demotion to Boise.
AZ PHIL UPDATE #5
: With their 5th round selection (#157 overall pick), the Cubs selected University of Virginia OF Brandon Guyer
A right-handed hitting and throwing 6'1 210 junior, Guyer hit 370/440/559 this season, and led the Cavaliers in HR (8) and doubles (19). He also had 18 SB (with only 1 CS) with 19/27 BB/K. If the Cubs do in fact sign him, I would think Guyer will likely start his pro career at Boise.
The Cubs selected five players over the first five rounds of the 2007 Rule 4 Draft:
1. Josh Vitters
, 3B - Cypress (CA) HS
2. Josh Donaldson
, C (Auburn)
3. Tony Thomas
, 2B (Florida State)
4. Darwin Barney
, SS (Oregon State)
5. Brandon Guyer
, OF (Virginia)
The draft will continue tomorrow.
And for lots more interesting Cubs draft talk and info, check out our buddies at Road to Wrigley