Even though both pitchers struggled with their command last time out, it's down to Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray for the top pick, barring an unforeseen event. With that being the case, we're going to start looking more at the second round.
It's going to be an interesting pick in that the college pitching crop is very deep this year and the Cubs will have a higher 2nd pick than the one they used to pick top starting pitching prospect Pierce Johnson last year.
We'll take a look first at some college RHPs that I like and we'll look at LHPs later this week. Personally, I like the RHPs better as there is some upside and a few formerly top draft picks who have dropped off since the start of the season.
Andrew Mitchell, TCU
Mitchell is a hard throwing pitcher, sitting at 90-94 with his fastball and peaking at 98. He has a second swing and miss pitch in his curveball, a pitch that some consider the best in draft among college arms. Despite opening the season as a closer, Mitchell has the solid frame for starting.
However, there's a reason why Mitchell was chosen for the bullpen besides his live fastball. Some think his delivery is better suited to hold up in relief and his change-up is behind his other pitches. Mitchell did end up starting when TCU struggled and needed him in the rotation. He's had moderate success there and has struggled with his comand. He has walked 27 batters in 41.1 innings while striking out 52. His ERA is at 3.98
There are two plus pitches to work here and if he can improve his command and change-up, he could be a #3 starter. If not, he can fallback as a closer.
Aaron Blair, Marshall
Blair has big, big frame at 6'5", 220 and he's a tough competitor who works aggresssively on the mound. He can reach 95 mph but pitches more often in low 90s. He may project for more. The pitch has good movement and Blair has the height to drive it down in the zone with good plane. He has a very good change-up for a college arm but his breaking pitches are average. He needs to choose one and refine it once he reaches the big leagues. If he can develop that, he's a candidate to be a mid rotation starter. Blair is 5-4 with a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 83 strikeouts in 79 innings.
Andrew Thurman, UC Irvine
Thurman is more of a 4 pitch pitcher and starts with a 90 -93 mph fastball. His best pitch, however, is his change-up, which projects to be an above average to plus offering in the majors.
He has good stuff, but he is a pitcher who relies on command and feel --which is often good and projects to improve to plus as he matures and learns to repeat his delivery. Right now he can pitch up in the zone a bit too much and will get hurt at times.
His other two pitches are a curveball and a slider, both of which project to be average pitches. His curveball can get loopy at times and becomes hittable when it does. He started working on a slider in the offseason. Both need work but by all accounts he has the makeup and work ethic to improve.
Probably more of a mid-rotation ceiling but a good chance to get there. Thurman is 5-3 with a 2.98 ERA and 14 walks with 72 strikeouts in 84.2 innings.
Jason Hursh, Oklahoma State
The first thing that stands out about Hursh is how he generates such easy velocity out of smallish 6'2", 197 lbs. frame. His fastball can reach 98 mph and has great movement at lower velocities, showing some tail and sink. It is one of the best fastballs in this draft. He has a clean, fluid, repeatable delivery so there's a chance to have good command as he gains experience.
Hursh's fastball and delivery is a good place to start but there are big risks here. His secondaries are average at best right now and Cubs fans will be wary of the fact that he missed the 2012 season because of Tommy John surgery. Optimists will look at it as getting a mid-first round type arm in the second round. Hursh is 5-4 with a 2.67 ERA and 23 walks with 74 strikeouts in 91 innings.
Alex Balog, USF
Another pitcher with a big, strong frame. Balog stands at 6'5", 210 lbs. and possesses a fastball that sits 92-94 but can reach 96. Moreover, his fastball has good hard, sink.
He also has both a power curveball and a good slider with both pitches having plus potential. His change-up is behind his other three pitches but he hasn't needed it in college. What I like about Balog is that he is a great athlete, one of the best on this list and it gives him a shot at having good command with 3 above average pitches --which gives him a pretty nice ceiling.
Balog was highly regarded to start the season but started slowly, which makes him a potential steal. He has recovered to put a 3-3 record with a 3.29 ERA with 26 walks and 61 strikeouts in 79.1 innings.
Alex Gonzalez, Oral Roberts
Gonzalez is an under the radar prospect with a low 90s fastball that peaks at 94 and shows excellent movement, including some good sink and cutting action. His second pitch is a hard, mid 80s slider that can be a swing and miss pitch when he commands it. He does show good control, keeping the ball low in the strike zone and the kind of clean, repeatable delivery that should give him good command as he develops. Like most college pitchers, his change-up needs work but he has worked hard to improve it and should improve with good coaching. Although he has had a lesser level of competiton than the other pitchers on this list, Gonzalez has put up impressive numbers. He is 7-5 with a 1.90 ERA and 22 walks with 112 strikeouts in 99.1 innings for the season.
- Ryan Eades, LSU
- Jonathan Crawford, Florida
- Bobby Wahl, Mississippi
- Trevor Williams, ASU
Filed under: MLB Draft