As many of you know, the Under Armour All-Star Game, presented by The Baseball Factory is coming to Wrigley Field on August 24th at 1:30 p.m. It was a great time last year as I learned a lot about the game from some of the most knowledgeable, experienced from the baseball industry and media in the game today. I hope I get that opportunity again.
For those still interested in going, I have picked up more tickets to give away. We're also going to have a very early meet-up at 10:00 a.m at Bernie's, so come and join us and grab a beer (breakfast stout?) -- or at least a cup of coffee. Tom will also likely be there, as will Big League Futures draft expert/Cubs Den contributor Kevin Gallo, and the very knowledgeable Harry Pavlidis, who among other things, is the guru behind Pitch F/X and has written for such fine publications as the Washington Post and Baseball Prospectus. There will probably be more there, including a few more bloggers and some Cubs Den readers, so if anyone else confirms, I'll be sure to note that at a later date. We will not be there that long, however, as gates open at 11:30, just in time to catch the HR derby.
If you are interested in attending the game, please e-mail me your mailing address and the number of tickets you need, leave a comment, or send me a DM on Twitter. The pre-game gathering is open to all but I do have a limited amount of tickets to the game.
I'll also be on Chicagoland Sports Radio on Monday at 2:20 pm with Jason Thomas. I'll be talking about the game and some of the prospects to watch. Don't forget to tune in.
Here is a quick cheat sheet for those going -- or even if you're just interested in the 2014 MLB Draft, where it now looks like the Cubs will have another top 5 pick and certainly a top 10.
The Top 6 Prospects
Considering the Cubs will have a top 5 pick, you may not have to look any further than these players if you're looking for a guy the Cubs might draft. The top 3 on this list have the best chance of going top 5 but the bottom 3 all have tremendous upside and could move up with a big year.
- Alex Jackson, C/OF: The best catching prospect in the draft and it's a position of great need for the Cubs, something they've admitted themselves. Jackson has a tremendous arm behind the plate and Professor Parks called his pop times "near elite". At the plate he shows the potential for plus power from the right side. Jackson has the great makeup and leadership ability to go with his physical skills, of which Parks says, "When physical talent and makeup join forces, the end result can change the fortunes of an organization, and Jackson looks like a player well on his way to that reality." Jackson sounds like he was tailor made for the Cubs and will undoubtedly become a fan favorite as we approach the draft, if he isn't already. The one question, and it's a big one for Cubs fans, is that not everyone thinks he can stick behind the plate.
- Jacob Gatewood, SS: Gatewood is one of the top hitters in this draft and a top 5 pick candidate. He has great size at 6'5", 190 with tremendous bat speed and the ability to hit for average and big-time power. His claim to fame right now is winning the HR derby for the high school players at the All-Star Game this past season. He's not extremely quick and is not expected to stay at SS but his bat will play at 3B or a corner OF spot.
- Touki Toussaint, RHP: Toussaint has perhaps the best prep arm in this draft and is considered a top 10 pick at this point with a chance to move up if he can improve his command. He can touch 97 mph and complements that with a plus curve that already gives him a second swing and miss offering. He's not quite as tall at 6'2" but has room to grow. As mentioned, his command needs a lot of work, but his stuff is potentially top of the rotation.
- Grant Holmes, RHP: Another pitcher who can hit 96 mph, Holmes is about the same size as Toussaint but perhaps a smaller frame and he may not project quite as well. The alternative is that his change-up and his command are more advanced. He adds a good curve to the mix but the limits on physical projection may also limit his ceiling.
- Dylan Cease, RHP: Per Baseball America, Cease is the 3rd pitcher on this list capable of hitting 96 mph, though he sits 92-93. He has the type of athleticism the Cubs prefer in a pitcher. He's loose and projectable with a clean, low effort delivery. Like Touissant, he's a bit raw -- perhaps even more so as Cease has similar issues with command but his breaking stuff isn't quite as advanced. His change, like that of most high schoolers, is still developing. What you get with Cease is a a great starter kit for a pitcher. All the parts you need are there for him to become a front line pitcher.
- Michael Gettys, RHP/OF: Perhaps the best two-way player in the draft, Gettys has 1st round potential as a pitcher and outfielder but most seem to like him as an OF'er where he has the potential for all 5 tools including, of course, a rocket arm. He's a high energy player, a style that remind some of Clint Frazier, who was also a Georgia prep product. Gettys is faster than Frazier with a better chance to stick in CF. He's an explosive player but all of this is leading to his one weakness -- his approach is every bit as aggressive as the rest of his game. He goes up there swinging.
Other early round candidates
- Chase Vallot, C: If the Cubs can't land Jackson or feel like he can't stick at catcher, Vallot is the next best prep option. There's a lot to like about Vallot, starting with a strong arm and great pop times (1.92 seconds) though like most H.S. catchers, he still needs work on his receiving skills. Vallot has a strong build and should hit for power and as a bonus, is a pretty good athlete. He's someone the Cubs could certainly be interested in if he lasts to their second pick -- but Vallot also has a chance to shoot up higher into the first round with a good season.
- Nicholas Gordon: SS/RHP: The son of former pitcher Tom Gordon, Nick also has a very good arm and can bring it at up to 92 mph but he's also a SS, where he may stand out more as a speedy top of the order hitter with great range, arm, and instincts in the field.
- Michael Kopesch, RHP: 6'4", 190 lbs with a lot of athleticism and projection. Some mechanical issues that a team should be able to fix, but the raw talent is there. Throws a low 90s FB that can reach 94, a curve, and a developing change. Some deception there too so a team that's going to take him will need to make sure they don't overhaul that part out of his delivery.
- Cobi Johnson, RHP: Johnson is also the son of a former MLB pitcher, Dane Johnson, and while he doesn't yet throw as hard as some of the top players on this list (tops out at 93), he's 6'4", 180 lbs. so there is plenty of room for growth and to add strength. As you might expect from a son of a former MLB pitcher, Johnson has the feel and pitchability you want along with advanced command for a high school arm.
- Grant Hockin, RHP: Projectable arm with a loose body that sits low 90s but can hit 95 mph. Throws curve and change with solid command for his age.
- Greg Dieschman, SS: Another power bat from the SS position, Dieschman does his thing fromt the left side. He has good power, which he generates with very good bat speed. He's not as prodiguous a power hitter as Gatewood, but he is faster, more athletic, and has a better shot of sticking at SS.
- Joseph Gatto, RHP: A chance to be a complete pitcher with a good arm that right now generates low 90s fastball while occasionally reaching the mid 90s. He has advanced feel and command for his age while also having enough room on his 6'5", 210 lbs frame to add some muscle and perhaps the velo increase that sometimes goes with it. The height also gives him the advantage of being able to throw with some downward plane.
- Foster Griffin, LHP: Another 6'5" pitcher, Griffin is still gangly with room to grow but the height also gives him some natural plane, He doesn't throw all that hard now 88-92, but there's obviously some projection left in that 195 lbs. build and could easily develop well above average velo for a southpaw. He also has glove side run on his FB. In addition, Griffin throws a curve and an advanced change for his age.
- Carson Sands, LHP: Similar in build and stuff to Griffin, the projectable Sands needs a bit more consistency on his secondaries but both his change and breaking ball.
- Cameron Varga, RHP: Varga already has a good pitchers build at 6'3", 205 lbs. and sits in the low 90s and can touch 95 mph. His secondaries are developing.
You can see the whole roster at the link above, or here at Baseball America.