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Cubs Draft Preview: Pitchers

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Matt Swain

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

By Dan Cupples

Ed. Note- Following this week's draft primer, we'll continue our draft coverage by looking at players who may be available when the Cubs pick at 16. We'll have a hitter preview soon, and look for more good stuff to come over the next couple weeks.

Much remains to be seen how new ownership will allow this years draft to be run. As it's been pointed out by Matt and myself, the Cubs ranked 26th in money spent on the draft in 2009. Of the 4 teams ranked behind the Cubs, 3 did not have a 1st rounder and the other did not sign their 1st round pick. One of the main things to watch this year will be the amount of money the team spends this year, and hopefully they will invest in the draft significantly.

Here is a quick look at some of the pitchers that may be available when the Cubs pick at 16. Remember, a lot can change from now until the draft based on performance, bonus demands, and injuries. As mentioned in the draft primer, in past years the Cubs have preferred college players and have had success turning college relievers into starters. 
 
Stetson Allie, RHP, Ohio(HS) -- 6'4 221-- Electric arm flashing a plus-plus high 90s FB. Above average slider at 87-91 mph that could be plus. Has a great feel for the changeup especially considering he's a prep arm. Huge command and focus issues but again he just HS kid. Does not maintain his stuff late into games and some scouts see him as a closer. With Cashner, Archer, and Carpenter all possibly ending up in the pen, this may not be a great fit, and adding another guy who fits the mold we already have is not ideal, but his potential for 3 plus pitches is tough to pass up. The Cubs have not drafted a HS arm with their first round pick since 2005, when they took Mark Pawelek 20th overall.

Brett Eibner, RHP, Arkansas --6'4 231-- This 2-way college player offers huge upside once he focuses soley on pitching. An athletic guy who sits 92-93 with his FB and hitting 94, but could add a tick or 2 as he starts getting more reps pitching. Curveball and changeup are OK, but again could get much better. He's a strike thrower but does pitch up in the zone to much. This could be a great upside pick if Hahn and Wimmers are off the board. 

Jesse Hahn, RHP, Virgina Tech --6'5 201-- Plus fastball with serious sink and tail. Former closer hit 99 mph in the Cape Code League last summer. Was considered more of a thrower in the past but seems to be making strides in that respect. FB has been sitting comfortably in the low 90s this year. He throws 2 breaking pitches and has flashed a changeup with the potential to be above average, though he hasn't needed it much in college. Seen as a reliever before this year, teams now view him as a long term SP. He's been moving up draft boards and the Cubs would be hard pressed not not to take him if he's around at 16. The drawbacks on him are command issues and mechanical flaws.

Matt Harvey- RHP, North Carolina --6'4 225-- In 2007 was considered one of the top prep arms but fell to the 3rd round because of signability. Has been inconsistent in college, only recently starting to refine his game. His fastball can hit 96-97 and sustains his velocity late into games. It has has some decent life, so it's not a Kyle Farnsworth straight as an arrow fastball. Showed a power curveball in HS but has switched to a slider. The pitch shows some potential, though it's not always sharp since he just started throwing it. Has a feel for a curveball but as with most amateur pitchers has not needed it. Potential 3 or 4 (if he brings the curveball back) above average pitches. Has command and delievery issues that need to be worked out to reach his potential. Has one of the best ceilings in the draft class but also has Scott Boras as an agent. 

James Paxton, LHP, Independent League --6'2 215-- High upside guy with Scott Boras as his agent. Was not allowed to pitch by the NCAA this year because of association with Boras, he is now currently is pitching in an independent league. Shows a great fastball sitting 93-94 mph and hitting 97, which is top notch from a lefty. True power curve and some feel for a changeup. On his best days his fastball is plus-plus and curveball above average. May rocket up draft boards.

Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Golf Coast --6'5 175-- A lightly regarded player in high school, Sale has developed into a 1st rounder at FGCU. He may have one the best repertoires in this draft class. While Drew Pomeranz is regarded as the top college lefty, I think Sale might have a higher ceiling. He features 3 above-average to plus pitches starting with 90-92 mph fastball that touches 94 with outstanding sink. His long sweeping slurve has tilt and break that will be effective against lefties. He gets good action from his changeup that could be plus. As good as his repertoire is, his mound presence may be his best attribute, ranking as plus and perhaps the best in the draft class. I've seen Sale in mock drafts going anywhere from #5 to late 1st round. Some teams may be wary of his odd arm slot. If he's around the Cubs should pounce.  

Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio State --6'2 195-- He looks to be one of the safest picks in the draft and should be around mid 1st round. He does not offer the upside of the rest of these guys, but does have a nice 3 pitch arsenal, solid command that could get sharper, and poised demeanor on the mound. Fastball has been sitting 88-91 mph with good movement, solid-average curveball and changeup. Very polished and will move fast to the big leagues.
 

Another player to be aware of is high school righty A.J. Cole. In most mock drafts I've seen he's been projected somewhere in the 8-12 range, before the Cubs pick at 16. He started slowly this year and may have a large bonus demand which could lead him to dropping right into the Cubs lap. While I will admit it's not likely he'll be there, if he is this would be the perfect pick for the Cubs. He's a high upside kid with a projectable body who may add velocity to an already great fastball. He also throws a power slurve. His release point is inconsistent, leading scouts to wonder if he will ever have anything more then average command. If the Cubs decide to spend some real money in this years draft, it could vault our system into an elite one.

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