Cubs go for impact power with Kris Bryant then finesse with LHP Rob Zastryzny

Cubs go for impact power with Kris Bryant then finesse with LHP Rob Zastryzny
Kris Bryant

At first glance, the Cubs two first rounders are as different as can be.  On one hand you have a big RH power hitter who demolished college pitching and was far and away it's home run leader.  On the other hand, you have a LHP who is not overpowering and relies more on his feel for the game.

But there is one thing both players have in common.  They both have high floors and both are about a couple of years away from helping the big league team.

1st Round: Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego

Yesterday we started getting rumblings that Kris Bryant was gaining ground in the Cubs war room.  The belief here was that Mark Appel was their number one choice and the clear best player available.  The Houston Astros apparently thought so as well, enough that they were willing to possibly sacrifice a bit of the bonus pool they had hoped to re-allocate for later draft picks.

The possibility that the Astros would take Appel started to become a reality late last night and we shifted gears in our draft primer yesterday to explore what the Cubs would do if Appel was taken.

Our conclusion was that given the uncertain track record of Jonathan Gray and the attrition of college pitchers in the pros, Bryant was the best selection.  RH power isn't as rare as power front line starters, especially in the Cubs system, but Bryant gives the Cubs two things they desperately need: 1) A power hitter with plate discipline and 2) a bona fide future 3B prospect that could be ready as soon as late 2015.

But drafting #2 is not about need.  It's about being the best player available and that is exactly what VP of Scouting Jason McLeod believes Bryant was.  When asked why Braynt over Gray, McLeod responded,

"We felt the best player for the Cubs long term looking at those two players was Bryant."

Bryant immediately becomes one of the Cubs top 4 prospects and perhaps their best overall.  He gives the Cubs a nice bookend to complement young 1B Anthony Rizzo.

Bryant's standout tool is power but he's not a one-tool guy.  He has the athleticism and the plus arm to play 3B with the only obstacle being his tremendous size.  The Cubs don't feel that will be a problem.  He's an underrated hitter and some, like ESPN's Jim Bowden, rate him as an above average hitter -- a tool that will be exemplified by the kind of plate discipline and walk rates the Cubs are sorely lacking from top to bottom in their organization.  But despite all the nice secondary tools, it's the 30-40 HR power that makes Bryant a potential all-star.

Here's a video from Bullpen Banter:

2nd Round: Rob Zastryzny, LHP, Missouri

With the Cubs 2nd round pick, they pulled a surprise by going with a college LHP but it wasn't Kevin Ziomek, Dillon Overton, or Thomas Windle.  The Cubs passed up all those players to select the lesser known Rob Zastryzny of Missouri.

I was aware of Zastryzny but I missed him as a candidate for the Cubs because I believed they would go after a power arm.  In some ways they did.  According to Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers,

The Cubs take Missouri LHP Rob Zastryzny. That's a heck of a pick. He was incredible at the SEC tourney in front of scouts. Up to 95.

Cubs Den contributor Kevin Gallo said this about him,

Great pitchability.  He will have an above-average FB and a plus change up.  Johnson will help him with his CB.  He is a project but could turn out to be  something if he puts it together. described his fastball as 86-94 mph, able to subtract and add velocity as necessary.  They also lauded his feel for pitching, command, and felt he had the chance to have 3 average pitches.

Baseball America had a similar appraisal of his fastball and called his change-up his best secondary pitch.  They described him as having good control but needs to refine his command.

I was surprised and I had my mind set on another LHP -- the less polished but higher upside high school pitcher from Kentucky, Hunter Green.  So at first I was a bit disappointed.

Having read some of the reports, especially the ones by Kevin and Kendall Rogers, I feel a bit better about it.  The Cubs obviously wanted to be as sure as possible to get MLB help with their first two picks and Zastryzny's pitchability, control, and ability to change speeds gives him a chance to move through the system quickly. And perhaps his stuff can turn out to be better than advertised.


Filed under: MLB Draft

Tags: Kris Bryant, Rob Zastryzny


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  • How likely are they to pick Jon Denney if he's still there?

  • In reply to HailSzczur:

    I think they'll still go pitching, so I find it unlikely. Denney really disappointed and scouts questioning bat speed.

  • Zastryzny might wind up being a great value pick. Doesn't seem like he'll cost too much, and Derek Johnson might see something he likes there. If that velocity from the SEC tournament is a sign of things to come and not just a blip on the radar, we might have something really good on our hands.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Agreed. I'm reserving judgment and looking forward to hearing what Cubs brass says about him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If I'm not mistaken, he wasn't drafted out of high school. Despite what most people think of Texas pitchers, he might be a late bloomer. Not everyone runs on the same development curve. At first I was a little doubtful, but I'm starting to think the Cubs might have found something better than expected.

  • Excellent job John, now get some rest.

    I started to warm up to Zastryzny after reading up on him too. "In Theo we trust", right?

    P.S. we're just a few posts away from breaking 600 on the draft blog thread

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Right at 600 now.

    The more I look at it, the more I think they're trying to snag a sleeper while setting up later rounds. Perhaps even Saturday picks. I guess what it comes down to is what Bryant is going to cost.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier. Winding down slowly and will be ready tomorrow.

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    Question John. Could the signings of these two guys - potentially - save the cubs to spend more later in the draft?

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    Yes. Potentially. I think they may go for an upside guy early tomorrow and will have a piece on it tomorrow.

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    With Scott Boras as his agent, I bet that Bryant will cost full price which means that for the Cubs, there is less to spend on the outstanding high school power pitchers like Hunter Green who will probably go to college unless given a large bonus.The Angels selected Hunter Green in the 2nd round with the 59th pick. I bet that Zastryzny was one of the value picks or as some would say college sleepers the Cubs will pick to stay within their slotted money for the entire draft. Since the Cubs didn't take Gray and, of course, Appel with the very high ceilings/ floors, I would have picked Frazier if he would have taken 5 million or less because I believe he probably has the best bat speed/power ratio in the draft plus the very high ceiling, then loaded up on a lot of hard to sign high ceiling players later in the draft that have dropped because of their asking prices and slotting. As the 2nd pick in the entire draft and with the money spent and his experience, I will expect Bryant to do very well in AA this year and be in the majors by next year. If Bryant becomes a long time starting position player with some all star appearances along the way, then all is good and he was well worth it.

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    Great work today, John. I will have to buy you a beer at a Cougars game.

    Hoping for more pitchers to come tomorrow.

  • In reply to Cubs 27:

    Thanks and deal on the beer!

  • Love the first pick,.... never heard of the "Z" man - but a LHP with good control & 3 average or better pitches and the ability to change speeds is rarely a bad pick.

    Let's get some more pitching and a decent Catching Prospect or two tomorrow.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Agreed. I've warmed up to Z a little. I'm not gaga, but I think it can work out okay. Interested now in next pick.

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    Meanwhile, the farm laid a collective egg. 1 run between the 3 teams in 4 games (32 innings).

  • In reply to Jason Pellettiere:

    Good day to skip the recap!

  • Cubs possible future position players are starting to look very exciting, but at the same time have a lot of question makrs. The only real locks at their current positions are Rizzo at first, and Castillo at catcher, with the rest being up for grabs.

    Here's what the rest are looking like in my opinion. These are in order of who I believe will be an everyday player.

    2nd base- Barney, Alcantara, and possibly Castro/Baez depending on a position change. Also i wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs went after a big time prospect near the trade deadline at second with this being the only spot the Cubs don't have a "big name" prospect in the farm system.

    Shortstop- Castro and Baez are the only two i possibly see playing short in the future.

    3rd base- Bryant, Baez, Lake, Villaneuva, and possibly Vitters although I think he's a long shot at this point.

    OF- Almora, Soler, Szczur are all looking solid. Add in possible position changes of Baez if he can't figure out his fielding, and I have read the Bryant could possibly move to the outfield if things don't work out at third.

    Competition can bring out the best in athletes. It's going to be exciting to see who wants it the most.

  • In reply to rlh21:

    I wouldn't say they don't have a big time position prospect at 2nd. I think you're going to see Alcantara on a lot of top 100 lists next year.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I wouln't mind seeing that either. If Alcantara keeps playing like he does it's very possible he becomes the Cubs everyday second baseman. However if a Jurickson Profar, or Xander Bogaerts are in the trade conversation it would be very hard for the Cubs to pass them up.

  • Glad to see a college lefty with the pick there. Was a little bummed to lose out on Appel but happy with Bryant. Would really suck to go with Gray and he gets hurt or doesn't get to his ceiling, while Bryant turns out to be the second coming of Ryan Braun or something...would've haunted us all. Hoping Bryant sticks at third but it doesn't really matter...Between him, Baez, Villanueva, Lake, Alcantara, Watkins, Vitters, Candelario, Amaya, and Hernandez...there's a third baseman somewhere in there. How about this??
    c- Welly


    Nice, young little team right there!

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Needs another lefty bat or two.

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    Looks like Gallo mentioned that Z-man is a project...not what you look for in a college pitcher this high up in the 2nd round. Kendall Rogers description sounds a lot like Hayden Simpson I guess the big difference is the leagues they pitched in. God, I hope so.

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    I'm really glad they took Kris Bryant. I think time will bear out that it was a great decision.

  • In reply to James Knott:

    The comps Ive seen regarding Bryant range from Troy Glaus to Giancarlo Stanton. Id take either of the above.

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    I love Bryant, and I think there are things to like about Zastryzny, but one thing I think became imperative tonight, because of the way things fell out, is resigning Matt Garza. It's going to be a while before the system produces a major league ready starter, and this team could be ready to win sooner than later. Resigning Garza helps with that, and it also buys time for our pitching prospects to develop.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:


  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Another thing about signing MG is I believe it's a factor in why Shark won't negotiate a long term deal yet. He's on the record as wanting the Cubs to resign Garza and should the Cubs do so Shark can see how he was treated in negotiations and use that as a bargaining strategy on his own contract. Get Garza and we might be able to nail down Samarjzida too.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I immediately thought that Michael and I agree. Signing Garza will help solidify the rotation now, and give us time to continue to develop MiLB pitching. The offensive talent is clearly there throughout the minors, but another thing to keep in mind regarding the pitching: free agent pitching isn't as costly as premium free agent offensive players. So if we are set offensively, and are able to develop 1-2 starters through the minors, we can afford to go out and get decent starting pitching via FA. I like the Zastrynzny pick the more I read. Sounds like a value pick, and the Cubs anticipating they'll have to pay full or above slot for Bryant. In any event, Keith Law and some others really liked him. Sounds like he really came on late in the year, and perhaps some of the scouts who saw him later were the ones who had him higher. This could turn out to be a really nice pick, as the guy already has three pitches, and sounds like there's some surprising pop on his fastball. For those who are comparing to Hayden Simpson, I couldn't disagree more. Simpson was a seventh rounder at best that the Cubs really reached on (embarrassingly so), and was always considered much more of a project. Many had him as a seventh rounder, whereas Z was at worst a forth rounder on some boards. A lot of the other pitchers available had injury or other question marks. We'll see obviously, but I like the pick after doing some more homework.

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    Zane Evans out of Ga. Tech is a guy I hope they get tomorrow, he has some crazy tools.

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    I certainly hope the FO knows what they're doing because I really hated the draft today.

    I think they went "safe" with Bryant and I think it will really bite them in the ass if he doesn't hit for high average. Power alone won't merit a #2 overall selection, even in Wrigley. Especially when you skip a potential true Ace to do it.

    We had a surpluss of power hitters already, with some others who project to hit for power.

    What we don't have is pitching.

    Theo said when he came to Chicago that priority #1 is to add pitching, and he hasn't done it. Pierce Johnson is essentially 100% of our minor league pitching prospects. It's nice to see Maples is pitching but he's not exactly setting single-A on fire, 3 years into his career.
    Vizcaino is still MIA and will be for awhile. Underwood and Blackburn are bigger question marks than he is.

    We likely won't be in play for any top-tier pitchers in the next draft.

    If they don't turn some short-term assets into pitching talent at the trade deadline, I really don't see where they're going with this rebuild.

    I've been cheerleading Epstein since he showed up, but today I'm very disappointed, despite the love Bryant has been getting on here.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I realize you and a few others are all upset about the Cubs not drafting Gray but consider this- if the Bryant pick doesn't work out the FO can still justify taking him based on his insane power numbers this season. But with the Adderall use of Gray, diminished performance by him in the future would be a nightmare to defend when the information was already available before the draft.

    And we do have pitching-- what we lack is disciplined hitters with power. The presence of Soler, Rizzo, Baez, and Bryant will be a murderers' row that no opponent will want to face.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Just curious if you read this blog regularly, because you couldn't be more wrong. The FO has added a lot of pitching. It just won't be ready for a while.. Just because we didn't take Appel or Gray doesn't make this a failed draft. Pitching comes from all over the draft historically. Appel and Gray might blow their arms out tomorrow. Good college hitters are a lot safer bet near the top of the drat, and the FO couldn't afford to blow this pick.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I mentioned Blackburn, Underwood, and Others. I'm aware they drafted a lot of pitchers last year. And I'm aware pitching comes from all over the draft.
    But with that strategy, you're not really drafting pure talent. You're just drafting athletes and hoping for dumb luck.

    Yeah, Shelby Miller was drafted in the 21st round.
    Man, that's great. But the Cards didn't draft a guy in the 21st round thinking he'd be an ace.

    Drafting tons and tons of pitchers is great, but Gray was not some random guy they hoped wound develop into an ace.

    And while Miller is a nice story, he's one of the exceptions to the rule. Good pitching might come from all over, but aces are still usually from the top of the first round.

    Position players are traditionally safer picks, we know this. That doesn't mean you just SKIP aces. Verlander was #2 overall, after the infamous Matt Bush. Who knows, maybe the Padres passed on him because position players are safe picks.

    We have position players. We have power hitters. He don't have any pitching prospects. It's very disingenuous to say that we have pitching, it just won't be ready for awhile. You're assuming we're going to hit on a pitcher. We have injured guys, and Unproven guys. Pierce Johnson is LITERALLY the only guy in the entire organization that currently shows promise, and he has a limited ceiling.

    You say the FO couldn't afford to blow this pick, but it's entirely possible they did. If Bryant becomes a .260 hitter and Gray becomes a very good starter, we look REALLY bad.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    I think you'll find Shelby Miller was a first round pick.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    And yes, a guy with a quality mid nineties fastball and swing and miss curve, who averages over 10 K/9 has an incredibly limited ceiling you're totally right.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Shelby Miller was the 19th pick in the 2009 draft. I can not believe you think Pierce Johnson "is the only guy in the entire organization that currently shows promise". Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood have promise. We have young starting pitching. Its in the big leagues. Johnathan Gray may turn out to be Brad Penny and Bryant turns out to be Pat Burrell. Cubs win.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    If Bryant becomes a .260 hitter I'll do cartwheels. A .260 hitter with big power and great plate discipline is a great return on a #2 pick.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Id take .260 if he becomes a 40hr/.950 ops. What I liked about Bryant is he walked as often as he struck out, which means he actually got pitched around some. And still hit 31 HR in 228ABs. 1 Hr/7abs is awesome, even in college.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    If Bryant sticks at third and hits .260 with 100 walks and 40+ home runs I'll think it's one of the best Cub draft picks of all time.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I won't pretend middle round draft picks are the same as the #2 overall selection, but I think you'll see the F.O. compensate for the lack of pitching today in the system today with a lot of pitching selections. It's the same playbook as last season: Grab a lot of pitchers and hope attrition misses two or three of them.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    One thing I've learned from basically every website everywhere covering the draft is that in the MLB you do not draft based on need, you draft based on best available. Especially early on. Additionally I have learned that pitching can be found in all levels of the draft, while impact hitting is usually found early in the draft. It is frustrating that we couldn't get Appel but once he was gone I wanted Bryant because he was the best available. It would have been nice to have someone like Grey or Appel, a power arm who can probably be pitching for us by late next season. But right now our rotation isn't the problem, it's our bullpen and our hitting. Ideally the Cubs can be competitive with this rotation and by adding some hitting, and also by calling some of those hitters up from the minor leagues this year and next year. So by 2015 you have a lot of your minor league impact talent on the 25-man roster, helping us into the playoffs. At that point you've hopefully built up a huge reserve of pitching in the minor leagues, tons of depth for both the pen and the starting rotation.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Your argument stands out in this crowded sphere.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Your argument stands out.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Your analysis stands out. Very refreshing.

  • In reply to tommy:

    I disagree with you. His analysis only looks at one side. He says if Gray becomes a very good starter and Bryant doesn't do very well, the Cubs look bad. What if Gray becomes a relief pitcher and Bryant becomes a monster slugger for 10 years? In that case the Cubs look brilliant. Right now we don't know what will happen over the next 10-15 years. The FO chose the player they thought had the greater chance to help the team.

  • Liking the Zas signing the more I find out about him. The coach figured he might go as early as first round and as late as 5th/6th. My guess is Cubs didn't believe he'd be there at 75 tomorrow. Kid said the fact every other team passed on him once is a reason to teach them they made a mistake... sounds like he's confident of his ability. Good move going after college pitchers too. Word has it they're after Miguel Gonzalez from Cuba, so maybe another arm to add to the farm.

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    Jake Brentz would be a huge upside pick at 75th overall. You have to like a lefty that can throw mid to upper 90's, especially when it's a low mileage arm like Brentz's.

  • Thanks for all your hard work today, John! Can you name a few high ceiling pitchers that you are hoping the Cubs will draft in rounds 3-10? I was pretty disappointed that the Cubs didn't get Ziomek at #41, but we will see how things shake out.

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    Got a report on Zastryzny from someone who covers him at Mizzou:

    Throws around 89-93 on the 4-seamer with some late life on the fastball, sometimes touching 95.

    Has a 12-6 hard dropping plus curve, and has a so-so change that he likes to throw. Lefty batters sometimes see backdoor slurves as well, with a little snap action.

    Went 2-9 this season with a 3.34 ERA, lots
    of Ks, but never really scared anyone in the SEC despite a 3.04 ERA in conference.

    Mizzou baseball was terrible this season and he was by far their best player, hands down.

    Great guy, good mound makeup, good team guy, strong work ethic, great stuff, iffy command and sometimes he's on fire, sometimes he just fades and loses control of his stuff.

    He can become consistent with the strike zone, he'll be a #2-3 starter in the big leagues. If not, fringy #5 or a good long reliever.

    Was ranked #72 heading into the draft, definitely an underslot guy so they can offer bigger bonuses to some HS pitchers down the line here.

    Could come back to Mizzou, but he's gone. Probably will make it to AA or AAA Iowa by next year if he comes in ready to go.

  • In reply to Cubs 27:

    Thanks Cubs27, that's good digging. I think we are getting a lefty diamond in the rough who is competitive and signable.
    Mizzou baseball had a bad year after being to the CWS two years ago. Don't forget that they've produced MLB pitchers/All-Stars Max Scherzer and Aaron Crow in recent years.

  • I love the Bryant pick. Just watched more videos of him and some interviews. Comes across as very humble, yet confident, team-oriented, committed, and an all-around good kid and athlete. Nice, solid, safe pick at #2.

    Rob Z....I was a little shocked, at first. I'm still not loving the pick, but again, seems pretty safe, with a relatively quick road to the bigs (hoping).

    Hope the cubs were able to save a little $ in order to stretch out some later picks and take some gambles now. Hoping for more pitching, pitching, pitching.

    Go Cubs!

  • Im doing cartwheels over the Bryant pick. LOVE IT & cant wait to see him in the lineup. Not as sold on the 2nd pick based on what I saw on the MLB draft show. I am surprised by the reports of him here being a power pitcher with that much velocity. Solely based on watching the draft how, they reported it and the clips they show made it sound like he was a finesse pitcher with a looping curve and more of a junk baller and he wasn't even rated in their Top 100 prospects. But I will trust Theo & co's judgment and I hope they saw something in him that other's missed. But I am not losing any sleep over a 2nd round pick, to me this whole draft is a giant win after landing Bryant! Bryant, Soler, Baez, Almora to go with Rizzo & Castro. Brighter days are ahead for the batting order.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    I wouldn't lose too much sleep over anything that the "analysts" have to say. They gush over the obvious and what sells in their market, and they drool over anything East Coast or West Coast and forget about what's in between. I don't think anyone at MLB is a fan of the Chicago Cubs, but it sure is easy for anyone coastal to bash the Cubbies. I like Harold Reynolds but the rest of that pack is rather marginal.

  • Ryan boldt still out there, but i hope the cubs get a pitcher

  • Jon Denney or Chris Okey if hitter. Connor Jones or Bobby Wahl if pitcher.


  • In reply to Quedub:

    Denney if hes there.

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    Derek Johnson may have played a big role in the Cubs drafting of Zastryzny. I'm hearing Vandy recruited Zastryzny pretty hard out of HS. He ended up choosing Mizzou, because of the opportunity to start as a feshman and because they were in the Big 12, which meant he would be playing in Texas a lot.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I really like hearing that Vandy and Derek Johnson wanted him pretty bad. Maybe Derek Johnson sees another David Price in him.:)

  • Not terribly upset about the Rob Z pick, as it seems he has some upside. However it seems like we could've gotten him in the 3rd if we wanted to

  • I like sometimes when a draft pick is off everyone else's radar. that's when you have trust your scouts. Talent evaluation isn't as exact a science as a lot of people try to make it out to be. Luike the Dodgers with Puig. If Hendry made an off the radar pick, then I would be pissed. But since I trust the new regime, I am assuming there is something there. Same with the current Bears regime, I like Emery but had zero faith in the Angelo/Lovie draft brain trust.

  • What time does the draft start today and is it on the MLB network again

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    In reply to Michael25:

    Friday, Noon CT: Rounds 3-10 will take place the old fashioned way, via conference call in New York. Teams will have one minute in between each selection on Friday. The audio will be streamed live on

    Saturday, Noon CT : Rounds 11-40, can be heard on No delays in between picks for the final 30 rounds.

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    One thing I really like with the new CBA is the shorter signing period. The deadline this year is July 12th. That means Bryant, Rob Z, everyone else, will get a little action this year.

    It will be interesting to see where they start Bryant; most draftees start in AZL Rookie, or Boise, but Bryant has an advanced approach, maybe Kane County isn't out of the realm of possibility

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I hope it is Kane County. I'm driving up to South Bend in July to see the Cougars.

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    Kent State's Tyler Skulina is another possibility for the 3rd round pick. He is 6-6/225 with a fastball that is consistently low to mid 90's.and a low to mid 80's slider. He also throws a curve and a changeup. His command and control tends to come and go. He gave up 11 ER in two innings versus Louisville. The turns around and no-hits Miami of Ohio through 8 innings.

  • I think that the Cubs picked what they assessed to be the best player available with the 1st pick and the best value with the 2nd. Gray 's PED use though not considered serious was enough to increase the risk factor. Bryant was the safe pick. He may have cost a little over slot.

  • Even after reading some of the scouting reports, I'm still pretty lukewarm on Zastryzny just because I hate not picking BPA early in the draft. However, I understand baseball draft is a bit more complicated than other drafts and pool money is a big consideration so hopefully they can get some higher ceiling guys with the next picks. Also, as others have mentioned, maybe Johnson gets his hands on him and turns him into something. I'm still thinking, though, that we likely got another Rusin/Raley type (or maybe a half notch better) which doesn't excite me too much.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    I'm going with the half notch better.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    My guess is they did think he was the BPA. Just because he wasn't rated that high on everyone else's board, doesn't mean he wasn't rated highly on the Cubs'.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    I see your point, PV, but Zastryzny is growing on me as I wrote above. Besides, we can't have too many decent lefties in the tank, and if one or two break out, you have a factor that negates other teams' lefty hitters. No one knew that Clayton Kershaw, for example, would turn out to be an ace when he was drafted.
    I like how he works fast and has a competitive chip on his shoulder. The Cubs hired Derek Johnson to help develop kids just like Zastryzny.

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    In reply to Pura Vida:

    I think they did pick the guy they thought was the best player available. Gray was not a sure thing. His mechanics and his past weight issues made him a huge risk, and no matter what they say, the Adderall probably played a role, especially since he was likely taking it for weight loss.

    My sense is that they might have gone with Bryant regardless because that is the way this FO rolls. They know the historical odds say 1st round hitters are better bets than 1st round pitchers. They couldn't afford to miss with this one, and they chose the guy they thought was least likely to miss.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I think he was talking about Zastryzny being the BPA.

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    In reply to Zachary Myers:

    I don't know that is reality either. All we know is what others write about these kids, and often, the guys writing about them haven't seen them, and if they have, it may only have been once or twice.

    RZ is not a reach on any level. Some mocks have him going in the second, most in the third, but no one worth reading had him going later than the fourth.

    I think they looked at him and saw a kid with as high or higher a ceiling than the guys ahead of him but maybe not quite the floor, and knowing that he'd probably sign for less, they rolled the dice.

    It's also possible that they like him so much they didn't think he'd get back to them, and if there really wasn't that much difference between him and the others, why not?

    I think Derek Johnson had a lot of say in this pick. RZ was heavily recruited by Vandy. So Johnson has known him since high school. RZ went to Mizzou because they promised him he would start as a freshman, which he did.

    There is a lot to like about RZ. He shot up the boards because he sat low 90's all spring, and by the end of the season, he was topping out mid-90's consistently. He misses bats, but he also throws a lot of ground balls, and he has an advanced changeup, which is rare for an amateur. He got overlooked because Mizzou was having such a terrible season. Had they been ranked, he'd have gotten seen a lot more often, and he might have been ranked higher.

    I'm guessing the FO loved his maturity and makeup also, which bodes well for his pitchability. He is said to be a good student and very intellectual about pitching. That gets demonstrated by way he is said to work hitters in and out and up and down.

    At worst, he will be a solid reliever. At best, he's a #2 starter. No siree, there is nothing to dislike about this kid, once you've done some digging.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    All good points, Mike. I think we have a new Big Z -- this one with a good attitude.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Hey, don't get me wrong. I hope he turns out to be a #2 starter. I love the Cubs and am pulling for them just like you are. All I'm saying is that I'm not in love with the pick. You say there's "nothing to dislike" about him, but I actually have read some scouting reports that say if he doesn't locate his fastball better that he may be giving 30+ HRs a year in the bigs. One guy says one thing, another says another thing. And it's just way to convenient to buy the positive stuff without at least considering that the negative stuff is true too and not just something "written by someone who never watched him."

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Let me further qualify my comments above by saying that obviously Jed and Theo and their scouts know a million times more about him than I do. And I'm totally pulling for the guy. I guess what I've read just doesn't blow me away... I trust those guys, though, to make the best pick at that time... whether it's for $$ issues, or they truly thought he was BPA.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Sounds about right.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    If he is mid 90's with a plus change and a CB thats shows promise... he's probably more like this years Travis Wood or a Ted Lilly in terms of results than say Raley or Rusin.

    Here's the thing, everything we read from guys like Mayo, Law, Callis, Kevin Gallo, etc form a so-so opinion of him. The reality is, and I think they admit to this; they haven't seen much of this kid, and maybe just on video.... Those guys combined; believe it or not, do not have the scouting resources as our FO.

    I'm going to go with the notion that our FO has seen this kid pitch, multiple times in several different situations, spent time getting to know and interviewing his family, friends, coaches, etc... and probably know this kid better than he knows himself.

    So if they thought he was BPA at #41 and if so, it's obvious that he wouldn't make it to todays pick... I'm okay with the pick at #41. Now let's coach him up, and get him ready for one of our earliest waves.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Hey, I agree... they know more than I do. I didn't know it was frowned on to not love a pick though. Don't we all have our biases? I was merely expressing mine.

  • Hey guys I have a new Sandberg 84 Mitchell and Ness that is a L that is too big for me. It's usually $300. Any offers let me know.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Only if they draft Cord in the third round...

  • All in all a good day 1. The more I read in the paper and on this blog, the thought of Almora, Castro, Rizzo, Soler, Bryant and Baez lineup in 3 years really gets me giddy.

    Keep in mind we still have some international signings, trades and next years draft and we could be in real good shape for the 2015 season.

    Starting to hope my Season Ticket number comes up next year.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    We lost two guys out of our ST plan if your number doesn't come up. First row of the upper deck, just behind 3B.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Might be interested North Side. I have another guy that could replace the two you lost. Lets keep in touch?

    How many guys in your group?

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Definitely! We had four people, now down to two, so I'm taking 75% of the tickets this year on my own. We've got four seats in Row 1, Sec. 409.

    You can contact me at if you want to talk about it more.


  • Bryant is a nice pick, Appel I'm sure would've been the guy had he been there but wasn't. I like the "big" 3rd baseman with a hellofa bat, just took care of the position for some years to come,and when he gets up to speed with Rizzo at the other corner I think the Cubs will have the league talking. Call me crazy but I've probably more faith in Bryant than Appel, lots to go awry with power pitching, Strasburg on again off again, you know what I mean? Really I hope both guys, Bryant and Appel do well, be neat to see that matchup in IL play in the not to distant future, just because. Really nice pick Bryant, watch this kid take off, think we're going to like.

  • I'm excited for our lineup in a few years with Bryant in it. Not concerned about him hitting for average as many are because he takes so many walks.

    I went to bed frustrated last night about the Zastryzny pick. But mostly that was out of shock and not knowing about him. I think Derek Johnson can do some good for him and it will turn out to be a good pick, I just wonder if we could have gotten him in the 3rd round. There was certainly some strategy in picking him in the 2nd, so I know look forward to the picks today even more.

  • Yeah does anyone know where Bryant would end up? It seems like he should go right to Tennessee or maybe Daytona although I'd love to see him in Kane County. I guess Kane County makes sense from the perspective that Theo/Jed etc...can actually go see him on a regular basis at least for the time being.

  • In reply to Mikethoms:

    "Where will Bryant end up?" If it were up to the kid, he'd be in the Cubs' lineup today!
    I kinda like that attitude, as long as he stays teachable on his way up.

  • Miss St fan, we didn't play missouri in our season, but we ran into them at the SECT and Little Z give us fits all night

    this matchup in the 5th is him against Hunter #13 to the Padres. We are a pretty solid club, with an outside chance to get to Omaha this weekend. He went 9 giving up 1R on 7hits

  • In reply to waitingOn2015:

    The number I've been thinking about this morning is 95, as in 95 mph. We call him a finesse guy, but the thing is -- he can hit 95 and he can hit it with some regularity, as shown in regionals.

    Could be a late bloomer and Cubs could have caught the guy at the right time. Maybe some tweaks and there could be more power to his arsenal thanwe originally thought. Combine that with his pitchability and control and maybe we're underestimating him.

  • John, selfishly I want Bryant to make a stop at Kane County, and you suggested you think he will. Assuming that happens what would the Cubs do with Candelario? He seems too young to promote. I fear Daytona makes the most sense for Bryant's landing spot from an organizational standpoint.

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    In reply to CubsML:

    I think Kane County is where he eventually lands this season, but it wouldn't surprise me if Bryant played a few of games in Arizona and a few more in Boise before heading there. The best case scenario, in regards to Candelario, is, when Bryant does get to Kane County, for him to hit so well that the front office feels a need to move him up and challenge him, but short of that, it'll will be a valuable chance to see how Candelario looks in left and at first.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I am not sure about the normal career trajectory for a college bat, but short season rookie ball doesn't seem like much of challenge. I know with first round pitchers low a is questionable. Is that true for a bat too?

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    In reply to CubsML:

    I didn't say he'd be in rookie ball for an entire season. I said they'd probably let him have a few games in Arizona and Boise just to get his feet wet. Observation tells me that is how this FO does things.

  • Today will be interesting. If John is correct the 1st day was about best player and high floor and today will be more raw upside types. One could argue that starting pitching is a Cub strength..

  • FWIW, Chris Crawford's pass/fail draft grades for Day 1:

    Chicago Cubs – I would have taken Gray, but I have been high on Kris Bryant all year. Rob Zastrynzy was a bit of a reach, but I’ll go pass.

  • Here we go. Bryant is a very smart player (just to get into USD you need to have a GPA of 3.85 and the baseball team requires a 3.0 to play) and has shows the ability to adapt. He very coach able. He as a great attitude and is the 1st to the field and the last to leave for practice.

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    The more I see Bryant's swing the more I like it. Very quiet with only a slight waggle before the load. Very small toe tap, no big leg kick. Short swing for a tall guy, 6' 5". I think his wide stance helps.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    The changed stance was a key to his improvement this year.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Harold Reynolds said he thought the Cubs should stand him up more, that he's to crouched down. I like Harold but I'm glad he's not running the Cubs.

  • Disappointed. Bryant was probably the right call given the circumstances, but I wanted Appel a lot more and this Rob guy seems like a stretch. If they can sign him under slot and grab a high-talent signability issue guy, I'll feel better, but otherwise I don't have a ton of excitement here.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    I'm good with Bryant. Feel as safe as I would about Appel as far as high floor, but I would have liked the big arm instead of the big bat. But Cubs feel that you can find pitching anywhere in the draft. We'll see.

  • Hey everyone. I'm finally awake!! Slept like a log last night but am up just in time for the draft. The new live blogging thread is up!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, Cubs Den has had over 700 posts since last evening. Congrats and keep up the great coverage.

  • Thus, the signing of Kris Bryant should effectively mute the Mike Olt trade rumors to the Cubs. Yes? :)

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    In reply to givejonadollar:

    I think it does that because the guy we were going to trade for Olt (Garza) just became much more important to extend.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    God I hope so.
    "Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make."

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    The more I hear about Zastryzny, the more he strikes me as a Derek Johnson guy. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it was Johnson's call and Theo and company deferred to him.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's what I think. This is DJ pick all the way and Theo has enough confidence in him that he took a shot. I think it will pay off for the Cubs in the end.

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