MLB Draft: Nobody Knows Nothin'
The 2009 MLB draft is going to be a three day event this year starting tonight with round 1 moving into prime time on the MLB Network. That seems pretty dumb. They're going to put a press conference of guys announcing names against actual baseball games. I know I'll be watching the Cubs vs. Astros games instead. In their quest to emulate the NBA and NFL drafts, MLB forgot to notice that the other two sports do their drafts in the offseason when people have no football or basketball to watch. Granted, it would be hard to do it in the offseason, but they should at least put the first round on a Monday or Thursday and jerry-rig the schedule so there's very few games that night or make them day games leading up to the draft (I've copyrighted that idea Selig, don't try and steal it).
The Cubs have the 31st pick in the first round thanks to a few players being unsigned last year by other teams and thus getting two draft picks. The Cubs don't draft again until the second round and pick #79. This is Tim Wilken's fourth attempt at trying to pump up the Cubs system and although the only major league return so far has been Jeff Samardzija, Josh Vitters is quickly working his way to the top of the minor league prospect charts and Josh Donaldson was one of the key pieces in the Rich Harden trade last year. Wilken avoided the topic of who the Cubs might draft in a recent interview at Scout.com but did say he almost always picks the best player regardless of positional need, but if there is a hole in the system it's left-handed pitching. He does prefer shortstops and center fielders in general, feeling they have the athletic ability to move around the diamond, although he does feel the system is pretty stocked at shortstop and catcher right now in terms of depth.
Who will the Cubs pick with their first pick? I've listed below a few players that have been mentioned in mock drafts and whispers. AJ Pollock's the name you'll see the most but Jim Callis at Baseball America in his morning mock draft doesn't believe he'll last to the Cubs.
(Click on the name to view their scouting report on MILB.com)
Brett Jackson - Center fielder and leadoff hitter for University of California although doubts he could stay at either...321/407/564 line in the Pac-10 with 61 K's to 29 BB's in 218 AB's...consistent contact remains a question mark. 60 speed, 60 power and 60 arm ratings on the 20-80 scouting scale shows his athletic ability.
Eric Arnett - 6-5" right hander from Indiana can touch 96 with a good slider although along with his straight change is still of a bit of a work in progress...has all of one good season under his belt. Most feel he won't last long enough for the Cubs to nab him anyway.
A.J. Pollock - We know the Cubs worked Pollock out thanks to Arizona Phil and he's the name that has shown up the most on mock drafts if for no other reason than he's from Notre Dame...great speed....great approach...learning his way through center field with gap power at best.
Mike Minor - Lefty from Vanderbilt that won't be confused with David Price but has a fastball, slider, change and curve in order of quality...probably not a superstar in the making but folks feel he could be in the majors quickly with a solid but unspectacular career.
Tim Wheeler - Center fielder from Sacramento State is a good all-around player that hits from Lou's favorite side
Jiovanni Mier- Shortstop out of high school in California will get drafted for his glove and then hope he can spray enough singles to make the majors. 70 arm rating according to BP, although the link to his name disagrees... both agree that he has excellent footwork and range. He's verbally committed to USC as well....
Garrett Gould - Right hander out of high school in Kansas has one of the best curveballs in the draft with a fastball that can hit 94 and a change-up that he hasn't had to use much....issues with his delivery and mechanics though.
Drew Storen - Right hander out of Stanford is one of top relievers in the draft with a good fastball and curve combo although control has been a issue...could take the Andrew Cashner route and move to the rotation and work on his change and go back to the pen if that doesn't work out.
On BP's Top 50 prospects, here is how the above ranked: Arnett -21, Wheeler - 25, Minor - 27, Gould - 29, Mier - 30, Pollock - 32, Jackson - 36, Storen -44.
Mock Draft Heaven Below.
Baseball Prospectus (Tim Wheeler)
Minor League Ball (AJ Pollock, RHP Tanner Bushue, LHP Tyler Kehrer)
MVN (Mike Minor)
ESPN (Brett Jackson)
Sporting News (AJ Pollock)
Andy Seiler (AJ Pollock, RHP Blake Smith, RHP Kendal Volz)
Project Prospect (Drew Storen)
I'd like to pretend that I know or have some informed opinion about who the Cubs should pick, but I don't...especially at #31. And chances there are very few people that really do except the guys actually scouting these players...and that's sketchy at best. The fact is trying to guess what a player might be able to do on a baseball diamond in 3-5 years is really hard work and although some teams do it a little better than others, and we have some ideas on the best strategy...what happens today can't properly be evaluated until about 2014. Yes, the Cubs have seemed to struggle historically drafting and developing players, but the only constant in that is the Cubs. The scouts (for the most part), scouting director, GM's, players have all changed numerous times and unless the Cubs are really cursed (and if you really believe that please do us all a favor and indeed jump off the ledge), the past has little bearing on the future.
(takes step off soapbox)
Well, Happy Drafting Day!
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.