MLB Draft: A look at 5 college arms for the 2nd round

MLB Draft: A look at 5 college arms for the 2nd round
Matt Imhof

This is essentially a guest post from Dan Kirby of Through the Fence Baseball.  You may remember Dan helping us out here before with his well-researched draft coverage, a topic he covers year round.  Be sure to follow his site for continuously updated mock drafts and player profiles.  You can also follow him on Twitter at @DanMKirby.

We've talked about the first round arms so far this year.  Carlos Rodon, Tyler Beede, Jeff Hoffman, and Tyler Kolek are the big 4 right now but prep LHP Brady Aiken is rising quickly, LSU RHP Aaron Nola is having a tremendous season, and Florida State RHP Luke Weaver is a sleeper who could make a late rise as well.

But this isn't just about that first pick.  The draft is deep with arms and the Cubs could get stock up once again this year.  There is the potential to get a high level arm in the 2nd round.  We're going to start with Dan's look at some of the top college arms first and he will look at 5 high school arms later.

Matt Imhof, LHP, Cal Poly

I really liked Imhof to the Cubs in the second round earlier in the year. The 6’-5”, 220 pound southpaw has the ideal size you want in a frontline starter. The way he has been pitching this season, however, he may not be around when they are on the board at 43. With 55 strikeouts over 35 innings, he leads the nation in K/9 at 14.1. Through his five starts, he has a 1.29 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. He features a low-90s fastball and has solid secondaries to go with a clean, easy delivery. He knows how to mix up his stuff and, at just 20 years old on draft day, will be one of the youngest college pitchers in the draft.

Jordan Brink, RHP, Fresno State

The 6’-1”, 190 pound right-hander wowed scouts this past fall when he was touching 97 mph with his fastball. He also showed a plus, mid-80s slider and a change-up that is rapidly developing. He was a position player his freshman season and used in relief his sophomore year, so the arm is fresh. He has a fast arm, which is great for projection despite his size. Through five starts, he has a 2.12 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 26 K/14 BB over 34 innings, holding opponents to a .168 batting average. Still new to starting, the command shouldn’t be an issue. The Cubs have shown in recent drafts to like college, power arms with projection left and Brink is exactly that.

Spencer Turnbull, RHP, Alabama

A power arm, the 6’-3”, 220 pound right-hander can touch 98 mph with his fastball and he adds an upper-70s curveball that is inconsistent but has a lot of potential. He also has some minor mechanical issues that need refining, but the Cubs have shown the confidence in selecting players who have a lot of potential but just need some tweaks here and there. Over 29.2 innings this season, he has a 0.31 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 26 K/15 BB, holding opponents to a .141 batting average. He also has allowed just one extra-base hit all season. Playing in the SEC, he will be facing great competition the rest of the way, making it easier for scouts to get a read on him.

Zech Lemond, RHP, Rice

Like Brink, Lemond has a fresh arm as he has been used mostly in relief during his career at Rice. When ace Jordan Stephens went out with an injury needing Tommy John surgery recently, Lemond became the Friday night starter. Through his first two starts, he has been excellent. Over 14.2 innings, he has allowed two runs on 10 hits while striking out 15 to five walks. His fastball sits 92-95 mph and he has been able to maintain velocity deep into his starts -- a great sign. He adds a slider and curveball -- both in the low-80s -- and both are quality offerings. His change-up still needs refining, but with his 6’-4”, 190 pound frame and easy mechanics, there is a ton to like about him.

Ben Smith, LHP, Coastal Carolina

Smith is one of those pitchers that isn’t a power arm, but he has the uncanny ability to make bats miss with his stuff. His 12.5 K/9 ranks fourth in the nation and is higher than guys like Carlos Rodon, Jeff Hoffman and Sean Newcomb. At 6’-2” and 200 pounds, his fastball sits 88-91 mph and he adds a potential plus change-up to go with a solid curveball in the upper-70s that he locates well. With his low effort and clean delivery, there is still room for added velocity as he matures. He impressed at the Cape Cod League over the summer, striking out 44 over 36 innings to rank among the leaders. The one knock on him is his command as he has issued 22 free passes over those 26.2 innings. If the Cubs brass believe they can iron out that issue, he could be a steal in the second round.

Filed under: 2014 MLB Draft


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  • Another intriguing name that could slip to the top of the 2nd round is Nick Burdi the RHP from Lousiville. He's got Jonathon Gray type stuff with 100+ mph FB and a 90mph wipe-out slider. What he doesn't have is Gray's command. If he can develop a c/u and consistency... he could be something special. If not, he still has the making of a closer that will be MLB ready real fast.

    But unless somebody special falls to them, it's hard to ignore the plethora of high upside HS arms in the back half of round 1 and top of round 2.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    If he has that kind of stuff and develops command, he's not getting to the 2nd round ;)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well I was thinking of having DJ help him develop his command. If he develops it now, he's in discussions with Rodon/Beede/Kolek, etc... lol

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Ahh, that works - as long as he develops command *after* the Cubs draft him!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Couple of things that qualify as "food for thought" on some of the names(1) Rice is known, like Vanderbilt, for being a college program that develops quality pitchers(2) The emergence of the hard-throwing lefties like Kolek, Imhoff and Rodon. havent seen much of that in recent years, most lefties are finesse guys.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Tyler Kolek is a RHP.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Maybe he meant Newcombe.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Sorry Hoosier, I forgot Kolek is not only a righty, but hes still a high school kid.

  • Barney has played decent this Spring, if he could put up these numbers all year along with his Gold Glove caliber defense, he would have a ton more value as a player both to the Cubs & to other teams.

    Barney vs. Bonifacio this Spring...

    Barney: .265/.342/.441 - .783 OPS
    34 AB, 9 Hits, 3 Doubles,1 HR
    4 Walks, 4 K's
    0 SB/0 CS

    Bonifacio: .265/.297/.441 - .738 OPS
    34 AB, 9 Hits, 3 Triples
    2 Walks, 6 K's
    2 SB/1 CS

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    That;s kind of misleading because a couple of barneys hits were weakly hit "seeing eye singles" and I remember the one double was on an "excuse me" check swing that resulted in a double down the line.

    Don't get me wrong, we'll take whatever positives from his AB's we can. I think he does still have some value and will a 2-2.5 WAR player this year. But his value is about to turn negative as he enters his later ARB years...

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    The reality is, the only one of the two that's even come close to those numbers in a real season is Bonifacio. even in barney's best year, 2011, his OPS was a pathetic.666, bad enough to place him second worst among all mlb second basemen. Bonifacio posted a .753 OPS the same year in .641 plate appearances.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    So basically, it comes down to Renteria preferences and having to choose between defense or SB/Speed. Barney's glove or Ernie's speed/lead off capabilities. It's all short term anyway. Javy is coming to town!! : )

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    If I had to guess right now, I'd say he keeps his spot with Bonifacio being a supersub type player who plays 3-5 times a week at different positions.

  • With the depth of pitching in this year's draft, I think it would be great for the cubs to try to trade for a competitive balance pick. There will be some good arms still available at that point in the draft. How about Russell to KC for their CB pick?

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Yes I'd like to see the cubs grab a competitive balance pick too. Cubs will have some IFA slots they won't likely be able to use...

  • John: Where does Jared Miller from Vanderbilt fit into the upcoming MLB Draft picture? The kid is 5-0 this spring; and is a big 6'7" lefthander. Saw a clip of him from summer ball-what are the scouts saying? Also, attaching a clip of him being interviewed by a little hottie coed from Vandy for a team spotlight. At the end of the video, the kid is walking on his hands down the dorm hallway-feet almost touch the ceiling. Looks like a character and good kid.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Upstate NY Cubs Fan:

    If the kid is walking on his hands, how worried is he about injuring himself? When you are a true professional you avoid risk especially when it comes to something that can jeoporadize your career. Say he slipped walking on his hands and broke his elbow, hand, or shoulder? Career done!!! Major league teams want people who have character, but are aware of the small things that matter as well. Not to say people don't mature. I'm just saying from the sound of things he needs a little coaching on the importance of certain actions that can turn from fun to bad. MHO.

  • In reply to Jorge Soler:

    Indeed-for we Cubs fans to remember Mike Harkey and his handstands.

  • In reply to Jorge Soler:

    Excellent points; but keep in mind-these are still college kids regardless of whether they are attending an elite school or are on some scouts radar. As a former college athlete myself, I can recall a few moments that may not have been the most advisable at the time-and we all can if we've been there and done that.

  • I certainly would love getting Matt Imhof in the 2nd round. I would like good lefty starting pitchers.

  • Spencer Turnbull sounds like an interesting one,.....

  • fb_avatar

    You have to be pretty bright to get into Rice or Cal Poly even on a baseball scholarship. Major league pitchers have to be able to read advanced scouting reports, metrics and utilize the information on the mound. That makes me lean towards those two. One of the big reasons I believe Kyle Hendricks will be much more effective at the ML level than people are projecting.

  • In reply to MightyBear:

    With a BA in economics from Dartmouth (with a minor in mathematics), I think Hendricks has a future in our FO when his playing career is over. Maybe he could even be a Cubs Den contributor?

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    maybe during his playing career he can wrote for this blog. Wouldnt that be interesting?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    He has an open invite! ;)

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