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.
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.
Phil, historically this front office has been patient with their prep pitchers keeping their IP low and moving them one level at a time. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, and you may not be able to formulate an opinion on this, but you've seen a lot of pitchers over the years, so...
also, after tonight's loss, STL is 13-14.
also also, the wsox are 19-8.
Win tomorrow, and the Cubs would have a 6-game lead. On May 4.
Fully agree on Addy -- hope he is our SS for a long time. I'm just surprised he has 4 errors already -- the last 2 on routine plays.
Guess how many Carlos Correa has?
I would still rather have Russell, right now, than any shortstop the team has had in many years. The future is bright enough to wear shades.
EDIT: Gonzo WOULD have been my favorite, 'cepting a certain error of a double-play ball...
Hi Phil, made it home tonight safely. Looks like Cease is getting better each outing. I see Crow did ok today too. I will be reading your write_ups everyday. Great seeing you while there!