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Cubs MLB Draft Series: Looking at pitching with supplemental, 2nd round picks

Cubs MLB Draft Series: Looking at pitching with supplemental, 2nd round picks
Chris Beck

The Cubs not only have the 6th pick in the draft, they also have a couple of supplemental picks.  They were awarded the 43rd and 56th picks for losing Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena as free agents. They also have the 68th pick, which comes early in the second round.

I've been looking at some of the names expected to be there and the pitching looks more interesting to me.  There aren't really any sure things, but there are some projectable, high-ceiling types that the Cubs may gamble on.  As we've stated many times, the Cubs need impact players and because of that, we may see them gamble on guys with upside rather than go with safer picks who don't project as more than bottom of the rotation guys or relief pitchers.  For that reason, this list is mostly high school pitchers as they are much more likely to make a long term impact than college pitchers -- though they are  less likely to make majors to begin with.

There are a lot of names and for simplicity's sake, I've decided to go with players who weren't taken in the first round of Baseball America's most recent mock draft.

Here's a list of some intriguing pitchers that may fit that criteria in no particular order...

  •  Hunter Virant, LHP, H.S. (CA): Virant is a long, loose limbed projectable lefty, who's relatively new to pitching.  The positive side to that is a fresh arm, and although he's relatively inexperienced, he already shows a feel for 3 pitches. He pitches in the high 80s, though he has hit 93 and may project for more velocity down the road.  The bad side of his not having pitched much is that some think he'll be a tough sign as he may go to UCLA to gain experience and improve his draft stock.
  • Paul Blackburn, RHP, H.S. (CA): Blackburn is a bit more polished than Virant, but he does have some projectablity left.  He stands 6'2", 180 lbs. and is athletic with a clean delivery.  He throws low 90s now but occasionally hits 94 mph.  It's possible he may add a tick or two to that fastball, but what you're looking at with Blackburn is a good all-around pitcher who has a good feel for pitching and the potential for above average stuff, command, and control.  Might be a bit safer than some of the others, but he does have upside too.
  •  Kyle Twomey, LHP, H.S. (CA): Another tall (6'3"), loose-limbed lefty with plenty of projection left.  He's 87-91 mph on his fastball now but it figures to get better.  Moreover, he throws from a 3/4 delivery with some deception and movement.  His next best pitch is his change and he shows the potential for a good curve, though it lacks consistency right now.  Twomey has good makeup so he's a good bet to keep getting better.
  • Pat Light, RHP, Monmouth: Light is the first college player on this list, but at 6'6" and 200 lbs., still has a little room to put on weight and gain strength.  As it is, he can already touch 96 mph but usually works more in the low 90s.  He has a slider and change, both of which can look good at times but lack consistency.  One thing that will attract him to the Cubs front office is that he throws strikes.  A good mix of college experience and projectability.
  • Onelkis Garcia, LHP, Cuba: Garcia has taken up residency in Los Angeles and is eligible for the 2012 draft.  I'm listing him here because the Cubs had shown interest in the past, but at 22 and a filled out 6'2", 220 lbs. frame, he is very close to what he's going to be -- which is a LH power pitcher.  He can reach 93 mph and complements it with a power curve.  Where Garcia still has room to improve is in terms of a change-up, if he does, he can be a starter.  If not, he can reach the big leagues quickly as a reliever.  A big worry with Garcia is his agent's reported demands of a multi-million dollar contract, so that could be a big turnoff to teams and they may not take him until later in the draft.
  • Duane Underwood, RHP, H.S. (GA): Underwood is a bit of an enigma.  He hasn't had a great year, but the 6'2, 185 lbs has reached 97 mph recently -- but he's also been clocked throwing in the high 80s.  He also shows good feel for a slow curve and a change-up.  He's an athletic pitcher, which is something that scouts look for, as it gives them a chance to repeat deliveries and give them good command.  One concern is that he seems to struggle with men on base.  After the Volstad experience, that might make some Cubs fans shudder a bit.  Scouts are really divided on him, some think he could creep into the first round, some think he'll drop into the 2nd.
  • Alex Wood, LHP, Georgia: Another college am, Wood has an odd delivery but has good velocity on his fastball (up to 96 mph) and a change which looks to be an above average pitch.  Despite the unusual delivery, he consistently throws strikes.  What he lacks is a breaking ball and at this stage you have to wonder if he'll develop a good one.  He's also had TJ surgery, so along with the other flaws, there's some risk here, but good velocity, command and a nice change give him some upside too.
  • Chris Beck, RHP, Georgia Southern: Beck was once considered a good bet for the upper half of the first round but he's been off this spring.  It's not so much the numbers, which are still good, but his fastball has gone from 95-96 mph down to the high 80s/low 90s range.  When on, he also flashed a tremendous cutter, a slider, and an advanced change-up.  Some think it has to do with his mechanics, so if the Cubs think the drop in velocity is fixable and not due to some unknown injury, they could take a chance in the supplemental round and see if they can't land themselves a second top 15 type talent.
  • J.O. Berrios, RHP, H.S. (PR): We know the Cubs were in Puerto Rico scouting Carlos Correa, but it's possible a pitcher there may have caught their eye as well.  Berrios doesn't have great size at 6'1, 180 lbs., but he's athletic and throws in the 93-95 mph range, though some say he can reach the high 90s.   He also shows a slider with good bite and a promising change.  Like Correa, Berrios is picking up momentum heading into the draft and the Cubs best chance to draft him may end up being with their first supplemental pick -- if he lasts that long.
  • Kieran Lovegrove, RHP, H.S. (CA): There's lots of divided opinion on Lovegrove, but there's no doubting his raw stuff, the best of which is a nasty slider.  He doesn't always sustain his velocity, which can be as high as the 92-94 mph range, so there are questions about his durability.  Part of that may be due to his funky delivery.  He's long, lean, and projectable, so he could get stronger and be more consistent with his great stuff.  The talent is there and if he gains strength/durability and you have the right development people to tweak his delivery, you could have yourself a steal down the road.
  • Walker Weickel, RHP, H.S. (FL): Weickel is a bit like another prospect the Cubs like, CF Albert Almora, in that he has quite a bit of USA Baseball experience.  Physically he's a tall kid, about 6'6" and has room to put on some weight.  He also has the type of pitchability that Tim Wilken likes.  His velocity was down this year after previously sitting in the low 90s.  The plus side to that is if he had maintained that velocity, there was a good chance he wouldn't be available to the Cubs in the supplemental round.  If the Cubs feel that the drop is due to mechanical, and not physical, reasons, they may have interest in this high ceiling, highly projectable arm.
  • Ty Buttrey, RHP, H.S. (NC): Buttrey may go as high as the first round as he has a great pitcher's build at 6'5", 205 lbs and the fastball (up to 96 mph) to go with it.  He mixes in a knuckle-curve, ala ex-Cub Burt Hooten.  He's another guy with some drop in his velocity and it may cause him to slide in the supplemental area.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.  These are just some of the guys I've found interesting through research and some conversations.  My guess is the Cubs aren't going to go for low-upside, polished college players this early in the draft.  They're going to roll the dice and see if they can't find themselves a couple of impact players with at least 2 of their first 4 picks.

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  • When Alvarez hit that home run, I immediately thought "game over." How many of the Cubs players must have had the same reaction?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I hope they don't feel that way. The one thing they've shown is they'll scrap their way back. Lately it's been too little, too late though.

    A little worried about Garza. I think he let that error get to him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yes, what IS the deal with Garza? Ever since his flu bug where he missed a start, he has been - dare I say it - mediocre. I have a hard time seeing another club giving up the type of prospect package dicussed here even last month until he turns it around. And maybe not even then. On the other hand, the Cubs may now be able to sign him to a reasonable long-term deal.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I was thinking the same thing. Teams who wanted to call him a 3rd starter really can point to his recent performances as support.

    If you're the Cubs, you have the numbers say he's worth Danks money rather than Cain money.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    i think if the cubs can sign garza for danks money thatd be a huge steal.

    i know that a lot of people have been discouraged by the recent losing streak and want to trade him, but i think it makes little sense. if we sign him to a 5yr/65 mil extension and he turns out to be the pitcher that most cubs fans think of him as then he'll be bargain. if were winning while hes pitching that way then thatl be great and if we arent then he'll be seen as a pretty nice luxury and teams will still give us a pretty decent package for him.

    and if hes not that pitcher that we all hope he'll be in the future than 13 mil isnt as much as it was in the last cba and it wont be impossible to move him.

    i feel like trading him this year/during the offseason wont net us what he could be worth to the cubs.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I'd rather keep him as well, especially on a team friendly deal.

  • Because of the new slot system in the new CBA is it better
    to after college players, if all else is equal?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    My thought is the Cubs need impact players and they should go after anybody who projects well. Usually that's high school, but I like Pat Light, who can still be something more than a back end guy and Chris Beck is intriguing because he showed such great stuff until this season.

  • When do the new rules on int'l signings kick in? Still waiting for Soler, and it seems like the situation is growing desperate.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    July 2nd, although everything I've heard says he'll sign before then. They'll have to push it through, there's a lot of money to be lost. And people don't like losing money.

  • Hopefully we can grab like a Noah Syndergaard type pitcher with one of those supplemental picks.. Or you know someone with high upside. I don't wanna see another Ryan Flaherty.

  • In reply to furiousjeff:

    I believe that's exactly what they'll try to do.

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    In reply to furiousjeff:

    or another bust like Jon Ratliff!!!!

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    There's a good chance that a couple of the guys they draft will be busts. Teams rarely, if ever, hit on all their early picks. That's especially true If you're going to gamble on raw, high ceiling guys.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    See 2002: Bobby Brownlie, Luke Hagerty, Chad Blasko, Matt Clanton, Billy Petrick and Rich Hill.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Exactly and the Cubs were getting rave reviews at the time for "stealing" a bunch of high upside power arms.

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    I realize this post is about the supplemental and second round, but there is the potential for a shakeup of the first round because of Kyle Zimmer's performance on Friday, which was also his last start of the year. After a two week layoff because of a hamstring injury, Zimmer's velocity was not what scouts were hoping to see. He was said to be averaging around 91 mph over 5 innings, and he was getting hit. If you have one of the first five picks and you are thinking college pitcher, you have to be thinking Gausman or Appel before Zimmer at this point. Then you have to factor in that Correa may have worked his way into the top 5. If you are the Cubs and Zimmer is still there, what do you do? You may be hoping that one of the first five takes him anyways so you don't have to worry about making that decision, or as heavily as the Cubs have scouted Zimmer, to include the three amigos, maybe it doesn't concern you because you believe that once in the system and pitching more regularly, his low mileage arm will develop the stamina to maintain velocity both deep into game and into the season.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That's a good question. Law already has Zimmer slipping to 14 and that last outing didn't help anything.

    If there's a simple mechanical thing to fix or the need to build up more durability, maybe you take him, but that's a big risk to take so high in the draft. Zimmer's lucky he's not in the 2011 draft or he would fallen to the bottom of the first round.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Gausman is the one I really like, but it's doubtful he will be there at #6, and I have my doubts about Appel. I'd be happy with Correa or Almora, though I lean Correa. In either case, I like the idea of using both supplemental picks and the second round pick on some high ceiling arms.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I'll probably do some position players tomorrow or Tuesday. I think they'll take bpa, that being said most of the better prospects, imo, are pitchers.

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    John, great article! You already know I'm high on Alex Wood, in spite of the obvious mechanical issues. I also really like Pat Light. Chris Beck isn't injured, and nor does he have a mechanical issue. Chris Beck is out of shape.

    Beck's 2011 playing weight was 220, and he probably was, but Georgia Southern's site has his 2012 playing weight listed at 235, and from what I hear, that is being kind. The word is that he may have bought into to much of his own press clippings and not put in the off-season work he needed to.

    The high school kids are all intriguing. .

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Yeah...I put a younger picture of Beck on there but he looks a little portly right now. Hopefully that's all it is. It does make you wonder about his willingness to work in the offseason, though....and thanks, by the way!

  • Ugh, that 2002 draft was SO incredibly disappointing. Forgot to mention B. Dopirak who many people thought would replace D. Lee at some point.

    The good news is I have much more faith in this front office to deliver a high-quality draft that maximizes our draft pool money. I've been doing some research and watching quite a few pitchers myself. I hope, or dare pray by some miracle K. Gausman falls to the Cubs pick at 6, but it probably won't happen. With the supplemental picks I like N. Travieso and P. Light. N. Travieso was allegedly throwing in the upper 90's in earlier in the spring, and may get selected in the first round. P. Light seems pretty mature and throws on a good downhill plane, and I also think he still has some projection left in terms of getting stronger and adding a few ticks to his fastball. He needs to become more consistent with his secondary pitches, but that's true of most pitchers in this draft.

    I also like A. Young and B. Lilek who are hometown lefties in HS. I think A. Young is the higher rated of the two right now, but at one point B. Lilek was the top HS pitcher in IL. Hopefully, we select one in the 2nd-3rd round and can get a hometown discount. J. Samardzija seems to love pitching close to home near his friends and family. I think this will be a viable strategy in the future actually with limited money to spend in the draft. Selecting hometown kids in the later rounds who'll take a slight discount to play near home. We'll see. Atlanta seems to love selecting kids from Georgia, and that's worked out pretty well for them.

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    In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    I don't necessarily think those pitchers were bad picks in 2002. I think the Cubs did a bad job of developing them. Pretty much all the experts raved about what a great job the Cubs did in that draft. As bad as the Cubs have drafted over the years, they've still had some talented players come through the system. I often ask myself what if Corey Patterson and Felix Pie had come up through the Red Sox or Yankees systems? Might they have made more of an impact?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Michael (or anyone for that matter)--What do you think it is about the Cubs system that has lead to the poor rate of development? I know that in some cases they haven't been patient enough (Patterson and Pie come to mind) but what about the many, many pitchers that have failed to develop? Poor coaching?

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    A little of everything. Questionable scouting at times, poor development. One of the things Theo and Co. brought in was the Cubs Way...having some sort of structure in the minors and setting expectations early on make a big difference.

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    In reply to Pura Vida:

    I agree with John. The problem is a little of everything. It certainly starts with the scouting. The Cubs have typically not had a large scouting staff, and they've also never spent as much on acquiring players as teams in similar size markets have, but even the blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then. They've been just as inept at developing what talent they did have. There has been no coherent strategy for developing hitters and pitchers. The Cubs Way was that there was no Cubs Way in the sense that there was a Red Sox Way or a Yankee Way. That's not an issue any longer. Everyone at every level is on the same page. The same message is being preached from the DSL and Rookie Leagues to AAA.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    I like Travieso as well but I think he's going first round now.

    Thanks for the info on the local kids!

  • M. Clanton was a bad pick from the get go. Bad makeup, and he didn't even pitch above A ball I believe. C. Blasko and L. Hagerty were good picks. Both looked pretty promising, but injuries took their tolls. We all know about R. Hill lol. Yeah, it wasn't too bad a draft in terms of high-upside picks. I hope we never select a B. Dopirak type player again. This front office was obsessed with getting players with power, specifically "light tower power" as they called it. C. Patterson, B. Dopirak, R. Harvey, and J. Vitters all had or projected to have legit power bats. They just never cared to check whether the players had knowledge or aptitude of the strike zone, and an ability to draw walks/wait for a good pitch to punish. R. Harvey and J. Vitters had/have no knowledge of the strike zone. C. Patterson seemed to be patient at times, but the Cubs never stressed plate discipline with him. B. Dopirak couldn't recognize breaking pitches or struggled with good breaking balls. He did walk occasionally, but he also played 1B where you need an extremely good bat to play.

    That's why I like A. Almora. Good, polished player who has alot of experience at a young age and from what I can gather, a good knowledge of the strike zone. Along with that, this front office will focus on plate discipline and drawing walks once a player gets selected.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    I like Almora as well. Only thing I don't like is that I believe he's represented by Boras. I'm sure he'll find a way to ask more than the available money for that slot and try to convince the Cubs he's worth whatever penalty it takes to sign him.

  • A little off topic here but the possibility of the Cubs securing the #1 overall pick next year is real. Any can't miss players in next years draft?

  • In reply to Bilbo Baggins:

    The big name as far as pitchers is Karsten Whitson, who the Cubs scouted heavily out of high school. He's at Florida. Among hitters, there's 6'5" Austin Wilson, an OF out of Stanford.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    "And with the number one overall selection of the 2013 MLB Draft, the Chicago Cubs pick Karsten Whitson, RHSP, of the University of Florida." ~ Bud Selig

  • Think I read a tweet from Law saying Onelkis Garcia will only sign if he gets a deal around 7Mil and if he's a 1st round pick.

  • In reply to furiousjeff:

    He's not getting that. Somebody needs to bring his agent back to reality.

  • I'd rather have Ryne Stanek, RHP than K. Whitson right now. Whitson's velocity is down and he maybe hurt. We'll see. A long, long ways off to gauge next year's talent. Sadly, no S. Strasburgs or B. Harpers in next year's draft...

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    In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Whitson is dealing with a groin injury. Florida shut him down for a while earlier in the season, and they've limited his pitch count and innings since. It hasn't hurt his draft status yet. That will be determined more by his summer league performance and his junior season numbers. Still, Stanek is interesting, and he has a great first name.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Long, long way to go. Keeping an eye on 2013, but I'm excited about this draft even though there isn't as much talent -- or money to spend -- as there was last year.

  • Thanks for the info guys!!! A Harper or a Strasburgh would have been nice to help speed up the rebuilding process.

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