Dan Kirby of Through The Fences Baseball has been our expert contributor here leading up to the Cubs draft. Kirby has some more analysis for us today regarding the first day in the books for the Cubs, as well as names to watch for on Day Two.
The Cubs appear to be armed with some extra pool money to play with and they may be able to entice a high school talent that would've been drafted earlier, but for signability concerns.
DK: I have to be honest, I am not overly thrilled with the Cubs draft so far. I like Kyle Schwarber and think he is going to be a great hitter; I just worry about where he is going to play. Hopefully, he has enough for left field because it doesn’t sound like he is going to remain behind the plate. I also love Jake Stinnett and had him as a target for the Cubs at 45, but that was assuming they went with a higher upside pick at four who would command slot.
Now that they should have a bunch of money saved up, here is hoping they will target some upside and perhaps convince some kids with a strong commitment to sign -- although a lot of talent went off the board after pick 45.
Here are 40 guys (26 high school and 14 college) I can see as targets for the Cubs over the next eight rounds today:
Jacob Bukauskas, RHP, Stone Bridge HS (VA)
The wild card in the draft, Bukauskas made it known months ago that he was honoring his commitment to North Carolina. However, the Cubs could toss a bunch of money at him and possibly make him change his mind -- maybe -- probably not. The 6’ 0”, 200 pound right-hander put on some muscle over the fall and was hitting 100 mph with his fastball. He adds a deceptive change-up with nice fade and a slider. Over 43.1 shutout innings this year, he had 98 K/5 BB, allowing just 11 hits.
Jakson Reetz, C/OF, Norris HS (NE)
A terrific athlete who can play all over the field, Reetz is another extremely tough sign. He is committed to Nebraska and has very strong family ties there. I’ll tell you about him anyway, though. His versatility makes him intriguing because of all the options he has. As a pitcher, he can hit the low-90s to go with an upper-70s slider. He can also play the outfield (where his arm would work well) and third base (where the arm and bat would play well), but catcher may be his best position and he has all the tools to stick there. He may not be facing the best competition but he has always performed well on the showcase scene and is an alumnus of Team USA Baseball.
Carson Sands, LHP, North Florida Christian HS (FL)
One of the better arms in his class, Sands is a big-game pitcher who is an alumnus of Team USA Baseball. He has a three-pitch mix headlined by a low-90s fastball that can touch 95 and an above-average curveball. His change-up is a solid offering and the 6’ 2”, 200 pound southpaw still has projection. He has a lot of deception to his delivery and has good command of his stuff. At 19, he is one of the older kids in his class but his stuff and makeup are great.
Evan Skoug, C, Libertyville HS (IL)
Playing in the Cubs backyard, Skoug is a powerfully-built kid who can drop bombs from the left side. At 5’ 11” and 200 pounds, he has very good bat speed and a solid approach at the plate. There is still some work to do on defense but he has a legitimate shot to stick behind the plate. A great leader, he fits the FO’s mold for what they look for in a player. Committed to TCU.
Trace Loehr, SS, Putnum HS (OR)
A great athlete with an advanced approach at the plate, Loehr makes consistent contact and should hit for a high average at the next level, although he may not hit for a lot of power. He has above-average to plus speed and uses it well on the base paths. He is also a very good defender with soft hands and great instincts in the field. Many believe he can stick at short but he could end up at second due to his average arm strength. At 5’ 10” and 180 pounds, he still has upside and could add power as he fills out. Committed to Oregon State.
Cobi Johnson, RHP, Mitchell HS (FL)
Another kid with bloodlines; Cobi’s dad, Dane Johnson, was a second-round pick by the Blue Jays in 1984 and is currently a pitching instructor in their system. Cobi has been taught well and has a great baseball IQ. He missed a lot of time this season with elbow inflammation but is fully healthy now. His fastball has been sitting 88-92 mph and he adds a curveball that shows plus. His change-up is still developing but he has a good feel for it and he creates a lot of angles and deception with his stuff. At 6’ 4” and 185 pounds, there is still projection left. Committed to Florida.
Mac Marshall, LHP, Parkview HS (GA)
With a fastball that sits in the low-90s, an upper-70s curveball that shows plus potential, and an upper-70s change-up with a good feel, Marshall is one of the better pitchers still available. But his commitment to LSU could make him a very tough sign and could be the reason he is still out there. At 6’ 2” and 190 pounds, the southpaw still has projection and is aggressive on the mound.
David Peterson, LHP, Jesuit HS (CO)
Peterson would likely be getting first-round talk if he hadn't broken his leg at the start of the season. At 6’ 6” and 210 pounds, the southpaw still has a lot of projection but scouts didn’t get a chance to really see how much he improved this year. He can touch 93 mph with his fastball, which has great life to it. His change-up is already an above-average offering and his slider is still developing. Peterson will take time to develop, but with his size and arm from the left side, it could pay off huge. Committed to Oregon.
Josh Morgan, SS, Orange Lutheran HS
With a legitimate shot to stick at shortstop, Morgan is one of the better players still available. The 5’ 11”, 200 pound right-hander doesn’t have a stand-out tool, but he is solid across the board and he does have above-average speed and a strong arm. He has some pop and should develop more as he matures.
Milton Ramos, SS, American Heritage HS (FL)
Some would say that Ramos is the best defensive shortstop in his class and he has all the tools to remain there. He also has plus speed and should be a threat on the base paths at the next level. His offense lags a bit behind his defense but he does have a solid approach at can hit the ball to all fields. At 6’ 2” and 170 pounds, there is hope that he will add power as he fills out. Committed to Florida.
Jeren Kendall, OF, Holmen HS (WI)
Kendall has some of the best speed in the draft and has been timed at 6.4 in the 60. He also has a very strong arm and has been clocked at 94 mph from the outfield. At 5’ 10” and 170 pounds, he has some sneaky power but that isn’t his game. He hits from the left side and shows a solid approach with a short, compact swing. He is a Vanderbilt recruit but could sign if he gets drafted this high.
Austin DeCarr, RHP, Salisbury HS (CT)
Still new to the mound, DeCarr is a 6’-2”, 210 pound right-hander who has been sitting 91-93 mph with his fastball and can touch 95 mph. He adds a curveball that shows plus potential and his change-up is solid with room for more. There may not be a lot of projection left, but he has come a long way in a short time and his three-pitch mix should allow him to remain a starter. Committed to Clemson.
Keaton McKinney, RHP, Ankeny HS (IA)
A big righty at 6’ 5” and 225 pounds, McKinney has a plus change-up that was taught to him by Jeremy Hellickson. His fastball sits 89-92 with late life and he has deception to his delivery. His breaking stuff is still developing but he should remain a starter and has nice upside, especially with that change-up. Committed to Arkansas.
Tucker Baca, LHP, North Gwinnett HS (GA)
A sidearm pitcher, the 6’ 3”, 200 pound southpaw kills left-handed hitters with his arm side run and late life on his 89-92 mph fastball. He has a solid mid-70s change-up with a lot of deception and adds a developing curveball. He has improved his velocity rapidly, and most believe he will continue to add more as he matures. Committed to Arizona.
Tommy Doyle, RHP, Flint Hill HS (VA)
Doyle is another one of those pitchers who is all about projection. Currently able to hit the low-90s, his 6’ 6”, 215 pound frame suggests a lot more to come. While he works mostly off his fastball now, he shows a good feel for an upper-70s curveball and his change-up is still developing. He has a fast arm and good command of his stuff. Committed to Virginia.
Clay Casey, OF, DeSoto Central HS (MS)
A very good athlete who also stars in football, the 6’ 3”, 205 pound right-hander has tremendous power potential to go along with a strong arm in the outfield. He has a patient approach at the plate and has a lot of upside once he focuses full-time on baseball. Over 38 games, he hit .464/.543/1.009 with 14 home runs and 47 RBI. Committed to Ole Miss.
Griffin Helms, C, Norcross HS (GA)
In a class weak on catchers, Helms makes for a big target behind the plate and is a very good athlete at 6’ 1” and 200 pounds. He has a strong, accurate arm and has recorded 1.85 Pop times. He was recently clocked at a silly 6.38 in the 60 and could easily transition to a corner outfield spot where his tools would play well. Over 26 games, he hit .368/.441/.528 with three home runs and 12 stolen bases. His strong wrists and bat speed allow him power to all fields, and he has a patient approach at the plate. Committed to Kennesaw State.
Kevin Padlo, 3B, Murrieta Hs (CA)
A late-rising prospect, Padlo broke out at Area Code Games and never stopped impressing. The 6’ 1”, 190 pound right-hander has a strong arm along with the actions to stick at the hot corner. He has raw power to all fields and very good bat speed. He is an aggressive player on both sides of the field and still has a lot of upside, especially in the power department. Committed to San Diego.
Luke Bonfield, OF, IMG Academy (FL)
One of the best pure hitters in the 2014 MLB draft, Bonfield uses his excellent bat speed to make hard, consistent contact to all fields and he has an advanced approach at the plate. At 6’ 2” and 190 pounds, more power should come as he matures and he is a good athlete having been times at 6.8 in the 60. He adds a strong arm and covers a lot of ground in the outfield. Through 24 games, he hit .379/.523/.712 with 14 extra-base hits and 20 walks to seven strikeouts. Committed to Arkansas.
Keith Weisenberg, RHP, Osceola HS (FL)
First off, I will say he is a Stanford commit, which means this could take a lot of money. However, he could be worth it as he is a 6’ 5”, 195 pound right-hander with a loose, lanky frame and an easy delivery. His fastball sits 90-93 mph and can touch 95 with late life. His slider is inconsistent but shows plus when on, and his change-up is still developing. A lot to like here, but again, will cost some cash.
Jake Godfrey, RHP, Providence Catholic HS (IL)
The 6’ 3”, 215 pound right-hander is a workhorse-type pitcher who can touch 94 mph with his fastball and should add more as he matures. He also has the ability to spot it wherever he wants. His curveball sits 75-77 mph and is considered one of the best in his class, showing great depth and spin. He adds a solid 78-82 mph change-up that he has a good feel for but doesn’t use it often. He has great mound presence and solid command of his stuff. Committed to LSU.
Matthew Railey, OF, North Florida Christian HS (FL)
With his advanced approach, excellent bat speed and developing power, Railey has impressed scouts all spring. At 5’ 11” and 200 pounds, he has the classic, sweet left-handed swing and can drive the ball to all fields. A very good athlete despite not having great speed, he has a chance to stick in center field but might end up in left field. His bat is what makes him special, however, and he could go on day one. Over 25 games, he hit .443/.532/.785 with 10 doubles, five home runs and just seven strikeouts. Committed to Florida State.
J.J. Schwarz, C, Palm Beach Gardens HS (FL)
Another Team USA Baseball alum, Schwarz is a 6’ 1”, 190 pound right-hander with an advanced approach and raw power. He shows good actions behind the plate, including a strong, accurate arm. Not fast, but he is a decent athlete and moves well behind the plate. If the Cubs believe he can stick behind the plate, he could be a nice score due to his offensive upside. He also has bloodlines. Committed to Florida.
Alex Destino, LHP/OF, North Buncombe HS (NC)
Destino entered the year with more upside as a pitcher than hitter. At 6’ 3” and 220 pounds, the southpaw can touch 93 mph with his fastball and he adds a mid-70s slider and low-80s change-up. With full-time focus, he should be able to refine his secondary offerings, work on his command and add a couple of ticks to his fastball. Through 73.1 innings this year, he has 116 K/41 BB and has allowed 36 hits. He was also a complete monster at the plate, hitting .535/.598/1.118 with 14 doubles, 15 home runs and only four strikeouts. He has shown much more power this year, as well as an advanced approach from the left side. His size, power potential from the left side and strong arm make him an intriguing prospect whichever way he decides to go. Committed to South Carolina.
Alex Faedo, RHP, Alonso HS (FL)
Faedo has been rising all season and could go in the first three rounds of the 2014 MLB draft based on his size and upside. At 6’ 5” and 210 pounds, the right-hander has a lot of projection and can touch 94 mph with his fastball. His slider shows plus potential and his easy delivery promises for more velocity. His change-up sits 77-80 mph, and he already has a good feel for it. He finished with 68 K/8 BB over 48 innings, allowing five runs on 27 hits. Committed to Florida.
Greg Deichmann, 3B/2B, Brother martin HS (LA)
At 6’ 2” and 190 pounds, the left-handed hitter has big-time power potential. A very good athlete, he has the actions to stick at shortstop but a move to second or third is likely and the bat will play well. His excellent bat speed allows him to wait on his pitch and drive it to all fields and he shows a patient approach at the plate because of that ability. Over 33 games, he hit .391/.562/.977 with nine doubles, three triples, 12 home runs and 16 stolen bases. Committed to LSU.
Greg Allen, OF, San Diego State
One of the few true leadoff-type players in the draft, Allen has plus speed and he knows how to use it on the base paths. He is a great route runner and, combined with his speed and strong arm, has a legit shot to stick in centerfield. Offensively, the 6’ 0”, 175 pound switch-hitter has a mature approach and can hit the ball to all fields. He may never hit for much power, but the Cubs lack top-of-the-order speed guys in their system. Over 63 games, he hit .302/.385/.380 with 14 extra-base hits, 25 stolen bases and drew 30 walks to 31 strikeouts.
Mark Zagunis, C, Virginia Tech
Another catcher who is more offense than defense, Zagunis is also a terrific athlete with above-average speed. He arm is average but accurate and his receiving skills should allow him to stick behind the plate, although he could handle a corner outfield spot, too. His power dipped a bit this season but he has a strong track record of hitting over his three years for the Hokies. Over 53 games, he hit .330/.426/426 with 10 doubles, two home runs and drew 32 walks to just 20 strikeouts, showing an advanced approach at the plate. He also went 16-for-19 in stolen base attempts. He could be a Jason Kendall-type player.
Jace Fry, LHP, Oregon State
While he doesn’t have a standout pitch, Fry knows how to mix speeds and keep hitters off balance. His fastball sits 88-92 mph and he adds a deceptive change-up and solid curveball. The 6’ 1”, 190 pound southpaw has very good command, can go deep into games and his track record in a tough conference like the Pac-10 is great. Through 16 starts, he has a 1.80 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 98 K/30 BB over 120.1 innings, holding opponents to a .196 BAA.
Adam Ravanelle, RHP, Vanderbilt
Ravanelle hasn’t gotten much exposure because he didn’t really have a defined role coming into the spring. The 6’ 2”, 190 pound right-hander has a plus fastball that sits in the mid-90s with sink and he adds a power slider. Through 34.1 innings, he has a 1.31 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 32 K/14 BB, holding opponents to a .150 BAA and allowing just four extra-base hits (all doubles.) His change-up is still developing, but even if he doesn’t end up in the rotation, he has a closer’s mentality and could be a very good one.
Wyatt Strahan, RHP, USC
At 6’ 3” and 190 pounds, Strahan has the size and durability to remain in the rotation. He offers a simple three-pitch mix, and at worse, he can be a power arm out of the pen. His fastball sits 90-94 mph with sink and he adds an above-average curveball and deceptive change-up. His command can get the best of him at times and that is probably his biggest area for improvement. Over 16 starts, he had a 3.28 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 89 K/49 BB over 104.1 innings. He didn’t allow a home run all season and keeps the ball down.
Brett Graves, RHP, Missouri
At 6’ 1” and 190 pounds, Graves comes with the “undersized” tag attached to his name. While he may lack the size, he definitely has the arm and can touch 97 mph with his fastball, which sits 91-94 with sink. He adds a slider that flashes plus when on and his change-up is still developing. His command is plus and he can spot the ball wherever he wants to. He’s also a great athlete which bodes well for further development. Over 93 innings this season, he had 64 strikeouts to just 18 walks.
Jordan Luplow, OF, Fresno State
Luplow has been rising all season and has shown all the tools to be a stud at the next level. At 6’ 1” and 195 pounds, the right-hander is a terrific athlete with great bat speed, a strong arm and good power potential. Through 57 games, he is hitting .377/.475/.609 with 21 doubles, nine home runs, 10 stolen bases and has drawn 36 walks to just 22 strikeouts. He has made great strides in his approach this year after drawing 23 BB/76 K over his first two years. His arm, speed and power potential make him a perfect right field candidate.
Austin Byler, 3B/1B, Nevada
Byler enjoyed a brilliant regular season for Nevada, hitting .335/.426/.660 over 52 games with 13 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs and drew 24 walks to 43 strikeouts. He finished on a strong note, hitting .403/.488/.806 over his last 18 games with five doubles and eight home runs. At 6’ 3” and 220 pounds, the left-handed hitter has very good bat speed and huge power potential. He made the switch over to first base this year but he is athletic enough to play third and his arm is strong enough as well. As a sophomore, he hit .346/.424/.566 over 47 games with 10 doubles and eight home runs. There is some swing-and-miss to his game and the Cubs would probably have to be convinced he could handle the hot corner to take him.
Daniel Mengden, RHP, Texas A&M
With very good arm speed, and the ability to hit 96 mph with his fastball, Mengden still has projection left; he could add a bit more velocity as he matures. His change-up is an above-average offering and his slider shows good potential. At 6’ 1” and 210 pounds, he has a durable frame and a compact delivery. Over 16 starts, he had a 4.08 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 95 K/29 BB over 103.2 innings. He worked hard on his command this year, although he did hit 14 batters.
Mac James, C, Oklahoma
James showed an incredible approach at the plate this season for the Sooners. Over 57 games, he hit .330/.398/.477 with 15 doubles, five home runs and drew 21 walks to just 13 strikeouts. The 6’ 1”, 200 pound right-hander was getting rave reviews for his abilities behind the plate, and if the Cubs think he can stick there, this could be a coup. He shows good power and has improved a ton offensively in a short time.
Ben Wetzler, LHP, Oregon State
Wetzler is a guy who could move quickly and be a backend starter in the rotation. The southpaw doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he knows how to pitch. He held opponents to a tiny .143 BAA this season and allowed just one home run. He posted a 0.78 ERA, 0.77 WHIP with 83 K/31 BB over 104 innings. His fastball sits in the 89-91 mph range and he adds a slider and change-up — both quality offerings. He attacks hitters and mixes his pitches well, commanding all three.
Michael Cederoth, RHP, San Diego State
At 6’ 6” and 215 pounds, the right-hander can dial his fastball up to triple-digits and adds an 83-85 slider with hard bite. He is likely destined to be a reliever and possibly a future closer. His command can get the best of him but he makes bats miss with his stuff. He posted a 2.28 ERA, 1.25 WHIP with 55 K/28 BB over 51.1 innings this season.
Chris Ellis, RHP, Ole Miss
At 6’ 5” and 205 pounds, Ellis can dial his fastball up to 95 mph and it sits 91-93 mph. His curveball sits 80-83 mph and both are above-average offerings. He has solid command but the knock on him is that he isn’t able to put away hitters with his stuff. Over 104.1 innings, he has 62 K/32 BB. He profiles as a backend starter and could be a power arm out of the pen.
Aaron Brown, LHP/OF, Pepperdine
A two-way stud who has legitimate upside as both a hitter and pitcher, Brown’s future will likely start on the mound where he was brilliant for the Waves this season. Over 16 starts, he went 12-1 with a 2.07 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 100 K/38 BB over 108.2 innings, holding opponents to a .212 BAA and allowing just one home run. He has a classic three-pitch mix, headlined by a sinking fastball that sits 90-93 mph. He adds an above-average slider and solid change-up. Most believe he can improve on his stuff and command once he starts focusing full time on pitching. The 6’ 2”, 220 pound lefty also shows raw power and the athletic ability to stick in centerfield. Over 58 games, he hit .310/.349/.539 with 11 doubles and 12 home runs, but he drew just eight walks to 51 strikeouts, raising some red flags about his hit tool translating to the next level.
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Filed under: Minor League News