Lots of news today with the Cubs and since I'm still not sure how I want to manage the usual Saturday morning draft update during the regular season, we also have a big update on the MLB Draft...
The Cubs draft has come down to just a few names. We can assume college RHPs Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray are both at or near the top of that short list. Statistically, Gray has caught and even surpassed Appel, though we know the draft isn't really about college stats. Gray may have already closed the gap, however, in terms of stuff. He throws harder than Appel and his slider can be just as good, and his command has been on par as well. Appel still has the edge in terms of a change-up and experience/track record.
Here is an excerpt of the report,
Gray flashed three quality pitches on Friday night against the University of Texas, working with a present 7 fastball, 6 slider, and 4+ changeup that should be 5+ with further refinement. He produced easy velocity, sitting comfortably between 93-97 mph and reaching 98 a handful of times. There shouldn’t be any questions about his strength; he still worked at 93-95 mph, even after surpassing the 100-pitch mark in the seventh inning.
However, Cole has some concerns about his delivery,
There are some concerns regarding his already-large body and the stiff front side/landing leg in his delivery. He showed a tendency to fall over his front leg and off to the first-base side on occasion, causing his command to suffer.
Despite the flaw, Gray is still considered a top 5 candidate and a serious candidate to go #1 overall in the upcoming draft.
Here are the updates from the past week:
Candidates for the 2nd overall pick:
- Jonathan Gray went 8 innings and allowed 4 hits and 1 run against Baylor. He walked 2 and struck out 10. For the season, Gray has pitched 68.1 innings allowed 34 hits, walked 13 and struck out 81. He is 6-1 with a 1.19 ERA overall.
- Mark Appel struggled a bit and went 8 innings, allowing 7 hits and 4 runs, though only 3 of them were earned. He walked 2 and struck out 7. On the year, Appel has thrown 71.2 innings, allowed 48 hits, walked 13 and struck out 85. He is 6-2 with a 1.41 ERA on the season.
- If you want to follow along what top players are doing and you are on Twitter, @DanMKirby. He does a good job of keeping track of college and high school players. Clint Frazier hit his 12th HR this week and in his last 5 games, Frazier is 10-for-16 with a triple, 5 HRs, 4 BBs, 2 SBs, and a 2.388 OPS.
- Of LH hitting Austin Meadows' 13 extra base hits this year, 8 have gone to CF (4 2B, 4 HR), 4 to LF (4 2B) and 1 to RF (2B). Interesting that he has an all-fields approach and you wonder what he can do with that size, strength, and bat speed once he learns to really turn on the ball. For the season, Meadows is hitting .680 (17-for-25) in 9 league games with 6 doubles, 4 HRs, a .733 OBP, and a 1.400 slugging pct. That's a 2.133 OPS.
- Sean Manaea did not pitch last night.
The college hitters
I don't believe the Cubs will take a college hitter at this point. Partly because Kris Bryant has cooled off and Colin Moran is just starting to hit the ball as hoped - especially in regards to power. There is also the issue of position value as neither is a lock to stay at 3B and in Moran's case, that would mean a move to 1B. Bryant is athletic enough with a strong arm and should be able to handle RF. Here is the latest on both hitters. Moran may be the better pure hitter, however, and it looks like he's closing the gap.
- Colin Moran is beginning to hit the ball extremely well. After not hitting a HR in his first 13 games, he has now put hit .464 with 7 doubles and 8 HRs in the last 21 games. He has an excellent ey and has walked 17 times in that time frame. His slash line is .464/.567/.833. Last night Moran went 3-4 with a double and overall on the season he is hitting .396/.518/.634 with the 8 HRs.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Kris Bryant has cooled off from his ridiculous start. He went 0-3 with 2 walks last night. On the season he is .342/.514/.812 with 14 HRs
Since it's looking less likely the Cubs will take a college hitter with the #2 pick, we can also take a look at a few college hitters that could be available with the Cubs second round pick.
- Austin Wilson a 6'5, 245 lbs outfielder from Stanford likely won't last until the Cubs pick and will probably shoot his way back up the list if he's healthy and produces. For right now, it looks like he'll go at the bottom of the first round. He is finally playing and is 5-14 with 3 doubles and 3 walks on the season. Had Wilson been healthy and productive all season, he would have probably have been a top 10 pick.
- Aaron Judge is huge at 6'7", 255 lbs but is athletic enough to play the OF for now. He is hitting .339/.420/.565 with 5 HRs for Fresno State.
- The Cubs drafted 6'3", 215 lb., 3B Eric Jagielo out of high school but he chose to attend Notre Dame, where he is hitting .392/.515/.667 and 7 HRs. He's likely to go in the first 50 picks.
- 3B Chad Pinder of Virginia Tech doesn't have the same kind of size as Jagielo at 6'2", 192 lbs, but as a former SS, maybe the better athlete with the better chance to stay at 3B. He is hitting .366/448/.507 with 4 HRs.
- DJ Peterson is one of the better college hitters in the draft. He plays 3B for New Mexico but defense is not his forte and he may wind up at 1B, which hurts his draft value. The 6'1", 205 lbs. Peterson is hitting a robust .410/.517/.869 with 12HRs.
- Hunter Dozier is a shortstop but he's a pretty big guy, so perhaps 3B is in his future as well. He has put up great numbers playing against lesser competition with Stephen F Austin but he's a top 50 prospect. He's hitting .412/.511/.772 with 9 HRs.
Cubs News and Notes:
- The big news is that Kyuji Fujikawa, who many noted looked off yesterday, may have been pitching hurt. Today he went on the 15 day DL and was replaced on the roster by Rafael Dolis. Fujikawa has a strained right forearm.
- Carrie Muskat tweets that the Cubs will tweak their rotation vs. the Rangers because Scott Feldman is dealing with tightness in his back. It'll be Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva, and Jeff Samardzija for the series which begins on Tuesday.
- Ian Stewart is ready to begin is rehab assignment at AAA Iowa. It appears 1/2 of the Cubs projected starting infield will be playing there this weekend. Darwin Barney is also going to Iowa.
- Good news for Cubs OF'er Nate Schierholtz. He got his World Series ring today from the Giants' manager Bruce Bochy.
Jeff Samardzija takes on lefty Madison Bumgarner. The righty dominated lineup is in place. They have not been all that productive yet and face a tough challenge today. The game is on Fox today at noon CT.
- Dave Sappelt, CF
- Starlin Castro, SS
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Alfonso Soriano, LF
- Scott Hairston, RF
- Welington Castillo, C
- Brent Lillibridge, 3B
- Anthony Gonzalez, 2B
- Jeff Samardzija, SP
What to watch For:
Felzz: Alfonso Soriano. He's been hitting the ball hard foul but hasn't translated into a lot of hits. Always a notorious slow starter, let's see (hope) he breaks out today.
John: Assuming the Cubs will be leading late in the game (and why wouldn't we?), I just want to see who's closing. Is it back to Carlos Marmol? Is it James Russell? Shawn Camp? Hector Rondon? Rafael Dolis? Is it going to be a bullpen by committee that will use all of them depending on matchups?
Tom: The save situation, of course.