After knocking the White Sox out of first place yesterday, I'm feeling good about the Cubs...for now. But let's face it. It's going to be a tough year. The Cubs are only 1/2 game "behind" the San Diego Padres for that first pick in the draft already and it seems likely they'll trade at least one of their best starters, maybe both. Other starters who don't figure long term may be traded as well. It'll be exciting to see younger players in the lineup, but there will probably be some growing pains. A 100 loss season may be difficult to avoid.
So, after that sobering piece of reality, the good news for draftniks like myself is that we can start looking forward to the 2013 MLB Draft. It's not a particularly strong draft. There's a nice crop of high school catchers and some interesting college arms, but it's early. It's possible a player or two will emerge from the pack and put themselves in that potential superstar category, but right now it looks much like 2011 in that there are many good or "interesting" players. Let's take a look at some of them in no particular order...
- Ryan Stanek, RHP, Arkansas: The 6'4", 180 lbs.Stanek has a lean, projectable body and can get his fastball up to 98 mph with a nasty slider, so he has the makings of two plus-plus pitches off the bat. He's still a work in progress, however. The change-up is the least advanced of his offerings, but when you have two nasty pitches at the college level, you really don't need a change-up. A contact of mine who just saw him pitch told me he was low 90s and topping out at 93 once the game wore on into the middle innings, so he may need to gain strength and add some weight to his lean frame to sustain his velocity into the later innings. Interestingly, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo doesn't feel Stanek would have been a top 10 pick in this year's draft, which he just missed being eligible for by about a week, but Stanek is generating a lot of buzz of late as a possible 1st overall pick for 2013 because of his potential to be a frontline starter if he can command his great stuff.
- Jeremy Martinez, C, H.S. (CA): The 5'11", 190 lbs. Martinez has the skills to stay at catcher long term with the potential for a plus hit tool. Strong defensive catchers who can hit are obviously rare, so Martinez's all-around skills should be at a premium. He also tends to perform big at showcase events, so scouts know he can play well when the spotlight is on. ESPN rates him as the top high school player in the draft. As I mentioned, high school catching is a strong group for 2013 but Martinez is a cut above other standouts such as Zach Collins, Chris Okey, Nick Ciuffo, and Ryan Healey.
- Austin Meadows, OF, H.S. (GA): In the past two years it's been Bubba Starling and Byron Buxton. Meadows is this year's athletic 5-tool high school outfielder. The lefty hitting Meadows is a big kid at 6'3, 200 lbs. and has been compared to Josh Hamilton for his all-around skill set. That size combined with good bat speed point to someone who will hit for power when all is said and done. He also runs well for his size. He also has the kind of efficient advanced swing to hit for average and gets rave reviews for his mental makeup/work ethic.
- Karsten Whitson, RHP, Florida: Many thought Whitson would be the sure fire #1 pick after he turned down a big bonus to sign as the San Diego Padres 9th pick in the 2010 draft. Whitson, however, has had some minor, but nagging injury issues at Florida and hasn't performed up to expectations. When healthy, the 6'4" Whitson has a mid 90s fastball, slider, and change-up -- with the potential to command all 3. We obviously know GM Jed Hoyer and VP of scouting McLeod really liked him, but you may not know that Tim Wilken coveted him out of high school as well. The problem with Whitson are those medical reports. Even if he has a great year, will teams still be scared off?
- Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego: Bryant is best perhaps the best pure hitter in next year's draft and his bat definitely stands out among a weak group of college hitters He's had 2 very productive college seasons so far. Bryant has great size at 6'5", 200 lbs. and as you might imagine, great power potential. He also has a patient approach at the plate. There are some concerns, however. Some think that "patience" is really more of a passive approach at the plate. There are also questions about his ability to hit with wood bats and whether he's anything more than a dead-red fastball hitter. If he answers those questions to the satisfaction of scouts, he'll be among the top picks.
- Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford: Wilson is a physical specimen at 6'5", 245 lbs. with power potential and a RF'ers arm. He's an average runner. He's been victimized somewhat by Stanford's mandated hitting style which doesn't allow him to pull for power, but scouts think it will return once the shackles come off. He also has a patient approach at the plate and should put up good OBP numbers. An optimistic comparison is Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins.
- Clinton Hollon, RHP, H.S. (KY): A 6'1", 195 pitcher with an "electric" fastball that already touches 96 mph and has some sink and run. The potential is there as well for plus breaking stuff and a change-up. Scouts also love his clean delivery, his athleticism, and his advanced command. He's a high school pitcher, so we're talking about a work in progress, of course, but Hollon has the type of mental makeup that gives him a good chance of making the most of his great stuff.
- Oscar Mercado, SS, H.S. (FL): The 6'1", 180 lbs Mercado is a top defensive SS with a plus arm. He's the best pure SS in the draft. At the plate, he has good swing mechanics and enough bat speed to eventually be a plus offensive player at his position. He's still highly projectable, but all the tools, except for possibly big power, are there. As a bonus, he's an excellent student, so scouts expect him to be a coachable player who learns quickly.
Filed under: MLB Draft