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.
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump