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Cubs Draft Preview- Hitters

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

By Dan Cupples

Ed. Note- This is the third in our series of draft coverage. To see all of our preview pieces, click here.

The hitting class for 2010 seems weaker than in past years, especially as far as college kids go. That seems to lower the possibility of the Cubs going in that direction, because historically they have primarily looked to the college ranks for players. 

The best college hitters -- 3B Zack Cox (Arkansas), C Yasmani Grandal (Miami), and SS Christian Colon (Cal State Fullerton) -- are consensus top 10 picks. The H.S. ranks are full of intriguing, toolsy players who do not fit the typical Cubs draft strategy. We can't necessarily rule out a H.S. bat, but I would be surprised to see the Cubs take a prep bat at 16 considering how many good SP prospects will be available.

Let's take a look at some of the bats that may be available at 16 overall.

Bryce Brentz OF--Middle Tennesse St.-- 6'0 185 - He's been moving up draft boards from a late 1st to now a 10-15 pick. As it sits now, he's looking just outside of the Cubs range at 16. Brentz offers a nice package of tools, all 5 grading as average to above average. He's a corner OF with an impresive arm, touching 93 off the mound. Athletic and average runner showing average range, which will be enough for either LF or RF. His short, compact stroke shows an ability to hit for average and somewhere from solid average to plus power. He does strike out in bunches but for the most part offers a well rounded game overall. With the college hitting class so thin it now looks as though he'll be off the baord before the Cubs pick.
 
Nick Castellanos 3B--FLA (H.S.)-- 6'4 185 - Winner of the 2nd annual Under Armour All-American game MVP award, which was held at Wrigley Field. Castellanos went 4-4, 4 2B, BB, 3 R, 3 RBI. I think we can safely say he like hitting in Wrigley! This Florida prep 3B offers potential plus power as well as a fluid swing with a slight uppercut that reminds some scouts of Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria. His long term defensive home remains to be seen. With a plus arm but a body that projects to fill out he may end up at 1B. Early reports of a 4-6 million dollar bonus demand makes his draft position volatile.
 
Micheal Choice OF--Texas-Arlington-- 6'1 215 - This college bat may fit the Cubs bill if they decide to go with a hitter. He's sitting mid 1st round as I write this, and would offer a wealth of tools. Choice has above-average to plus power. His swing has many moving parts and in game tape that is evident, though in batting practice his swing looks much smoother leading me to believe he could iron out some of the kinks. He plays CF for his college team but profiles as a RF professionally. He has plenty of arm strength to play RF as well as above average speed and natural baseball instincts. As far as weaknesses, he will need to work on his trigger and load to hit for any kind of average. He reminds me of Michael Burgess of the Washington Nationals.
 
Josh Sale OF--WASH. (H.S.)-- 6'1 205 - If the Cubs don't take an arm at 16, Sale offers the best upside pick of any other player that may be available. Hailing from Washington state he does remind me of another player from that state...Travis Snider. I seen Snider play for the Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays low A affiliate, Midwest league) and see some similarities. Sale has current well above average to future plus power combined with a quick bat speed he offers a true impact bat. His body is better then Snider's and a work ethic that impresses scouts. On the basebaths he's average and may become below average as he matures. He should be a solid RF with an improving arm to boot. His work ethic is outstanding and should help to quell concerns about his contact ability.
 
Justin O'Conner--IND (H.S.)-- 6'1 190 - This is a prospect who is tough to figure in terms of future position. Currently a SS with plus-plus arm strength who hits the mid 90s off the mound, but his range is limited, leading most to think he's a better fit at 3B. Those aren't the only two positions that are possible for this kid. He's also being projected as a catcher by some scouts. His bat is outstanding, featuring plus raw power and a short stroke that stays inside the ball. He's a good strong athlete who could play almost anywhere but after seeing his throwing from the C postion he's extremely raw in that aspect. 
 
Tyler Holt--Florida State-- 6'1 190 - Holt as a 1st-rounder is highly unlikely but may be around for the Cubs in round 2. He reminds me of another Tyler taken by the Cubs...Tyler Colvin. Very polished college player who currently is looking like an Sup. 1st to mid 2nd. Lead off hitter skills featuring good plate discipline, above average speed and good make up. Has shown he can hit with wood bats. This is a high floor pick who the Cubs may explore in the 2nd round.
 
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As we sit now, Chris Sale (the lefty from UFGS) is looking like a dream, but A.J. Cole seems to be dropping into the Cubs range in the 1st. It looks as though the logical choice for us is a college SP. Harvey, Eibner, and Hahn all seem to be very real possiblities. MLBBonusBabys.com recent mock draft shows A.J. Cole going 17 to the Blue Jays. A.J. Cole represents a chance, if available, to show our commintment to our minor league system. He has the look of a Rick Porcello type pick. Note: I am not comparing Cole and Porcello, just in terms of absolute values.

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1 Comment

WearShades said:

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I liked the writeup. The only place where I'm not sure I agree is on Castellanos, specifically that he'll end up as a first baseman. I'm basing this on what Andy Seiler from MLB said in one of his Saturday Q&As. He doesn't think Castellanos will be more than average at third, but he'll hold the position. Again, great writeup.

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