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