And With the Second Pick in the Draft...
I hope the Cubs end up getting Jonathan Gray.
Listen, there's very few drafts where the odds are greater than 80-90% that you're gonna land a true elite talent(A-Rod, Strasburg, Griffey Jr. were all no-brainers) and this seems to be one of those drafts where that elite talent isn't particularly obvious. So whomever the Cubs take with that #2 pick will come with all the hype of Mark Prior, but not nearly as much of the talent.
The big names in the draft that the Cubs seem to be concentrating on are RHP Jonathan Gray out of Oklahoma, RHP Mark Appel out of Stanford and 3B Kris Bryant(but probably an OF or 1B) out of San Diego. There's a bit of a buzz around Georgia high schoolers Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier, but seems doubtful the Cubs will go that route.
Now the Astros with the first pick are likely going to take 1 of those 3 off the board and most likely one of the pitchers, leaving the Cubs with a coin flip decision. The power college arm or the power college bat. There's certainly good reason to be scared of any pitcher in the draft, arm injuries can derail a pitcher's career much quicker than any injuries will end a position player. But the history of college hitters taken with the first two picks in the draft isn't particularly eye popping either. So to keep this short and succinct...here's what each boils down to:
Gray - Big dude, expected to be able to eat innings with ease. A fastball that hits 100mph and sits in the upper 90's. Plus slider, that some believe could be a plus-plus slider with a little work. Change-up is average at best at this point. Biggest issue seems to be his control and being sure he stays in shape. Also, being a junior he can return to Oklahoma if he doesn't get the money he wants.
Rather Meaningless Stats: 9-2, 1.55 ERA, .181 Batting Average against, 127 K vs. 21 walks in 110 IP.
Appel - a lot more polish than Gray, can hit high 90's but sits around 94-95. A 11-5 curve that could be his out pitch in the majors and a change-up that's a work in progress, but farther along than Gray's. He apparently can also throw a cutter. Biggest issue is probably that Boras is his agent and could pull a Hochevar if they don't like the deal offered.
Rather Meaningless Stats: 10-4, 2.12 ERA, .203 Batting Average against, 130 K vs. 23 walks in 106.1 IP.
Bryant - 6-5" right-handed hitter with a big arm that many believe will land him in right field. He'll be drafted for his power, power that plays to all fields. He's improved his strike zone judgement, but hard to tell how much of that is fear vs. pitch recognition. And of course, anyone with that power will likely have a bit of swing and miss in his game. Also a college junior, so he has some leverage in negotiations.
Rather Meaningless Stats: .329/.493/.820 with 31 HR...66 BB vs. 44 K in 228 AB's.
As for why I'd take Gray, it just seems to have the biggest upside of the three. 100 mph fastballs usually have a high rate of reaching the majors, so the floor is pretty high as well. How well he does when he gets to the majors is anybody's guess, but it seems like at the very worst he could be a high end bullpen arm. For whatever reason, Appel makes me think of Hochevar, not really a true #1 pick, but there's no one better around so let's take him. I'm sure Bryant will have a perfectly fine career, but if he was an elite talent, he'd probably been chased after a lot harder after high school. Also, I'd feel better about him if he batted from the left side or had any real hope of sticking at 3b. In the end, the Cubs will get what the Astros don't want most likely and years from now...um....minutes after, we'll all be second guessing the pick.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.