It’s been a tough road for 2010 first round draft pick Hayden Simpson. And that includes the very moment of his selection.

Simpson, so off the board that the Draft organizers literally had to create a nameplate for him, was not exactly welcomed by Chicago Cubs fans with open arms on Draft day. The fault, of course, was not his – and the fans weren’t really objecting to Simpson, himself. Fans were simply upset that the Cubs had decided to use a first round pick on a young man whom most had going in the third round (at best). And then, before he could even throw his first professional pitch, he came down with a massive case of mono.

So bad was his sickness that he didn’t pitch again until this Spring – after losing 22 pounds. And when he did pitch, he didn’t pitch particularly well. Throwing for the Cubs’ A-ball affiliate in Peoria, Simpson went 1-6 with a 5.72 ERA in 16 starts. In those 16 starts, he managed just 61.1 innings, giving up 76 hits and 27 walks. Worse, his velocity had dropped so far from his college days that Farm Director Oneri Fleita ordered that the stadium gun be removed on the days Simpson pitched.

And now Simpson has been demoted to the Cubs’ rookie ball team in Mesa, Arizona. There, in a league that is more instructional than competitive, the Cubs hope Simpson can regain his strength, velocity, and confidence. Even if he hadn’t been demoted, it was fair to assume that his development has been set-back significantly.

It’s a sad story so far, both for Simpson and for the Cubs. Hopefully we’re simply still in those early chapters where the writer is trying to make it seem like a breakthrough to success is impossible. Then, when success finally comes, it feels that much more deserved.

One thing’s for sure: if Simpson makes the Cubs a couple years down the road, both he and the Cubs will have deserved it.

  • CubsFanatic

    Sorry to hear hes declining, but this is exactly why you don’t take chances like that. Whoever made that call shouldn’t have a job….If they still do.

  • chris margetis

    I believe that was the same guy who used to run the Blue Jays scouting department. He once reached in much the same way and drafted a guy who now pitches for the Phillies…

    • http://BleacherNation Bric

      No offense, but comparing the drafting of Roy Halliday and Hayden Simpson is a huge stretch, even for a fellow die hard Cub fan. For one thing, Halliday was a 17 year old high schooler, Simpson was a 22 year old senior in college who wasn’t highly recruited in 5 years of being scouted. Halladay was coached by the same guy in Co. who taught Goose Gossage and Brad Lidge. He was projected as a late first round-early second round pick. He was taken at 17 (maybe a little bit of a stretch, but not even in the same ball park as Simpson).

      The only thing they both have in common was signability. Halladay was taken that high by a perenially cash strapped organization because they thought he would sign cheap. I’m sure I’m the lone voice in the wilderness saying this but the reason Simpson was taken so high was the Hendry long ago lost faith in his own system and Ricketts is cheap.

      There’s hope and then there’s delusion. Even before all the set backs, anybody thinking that Hayden Simpson would be the next Roy Halliday is way too hooked on the Hendry/ Ricketts kool-aid. Again, it’s interesting to see how long Wilken keeps his job. Hendry should’ve been fired after the Bradley deal but he’s still here. Jarimillo should’ve been canned when all the power numbers dropped but he’s still here, too. So sadly, Wilken’s nothing to worry about.

  • RoughRiider

    As a person who has had mononucleosis I can tell you that it can take a year or more to not feel tired most of time. It can also become Chronic EBV. Chronic Ebstein Barr Syndrome can be very debilitating to some. You feel as if you have the flu and you are extremely fatigued. Some people have remissions and some don’t. It is a horrible disease that can be compared to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The fact that Hayden is pitching at all is a good sign. You can’t fault anyone for drafting him based on an illness unless he had it and was diagnosed before the draft. Maybe drafting him in the first round was a mistake but if I remember correctly, another team was set to draft him if the Cubs didn’t. Or at least that was the rumor.

    • Brett

      It’s just a sickness that’s hard to wrap your head around. Bronson Arroyo had it to begin this season and he didn’t miss a start. Simpson missed a year’s worth of starts and still isn’t the same.

      • Matt

        Ya, but Arroyo plays for Dusty “just keep pitching” Baker

        • Brett

          Yeah, but he pitched just fine… (and Arroyo, I believe, has never missed a start, like, ever).

          • Michigan Goat

            Yeah but he has a douch hair.

            • Caleb


    • Ron

      I am with you on this one, first can you imagine losing 22 lbs, then try to do it if you are in shape. I lost 18 in the army over a two week stretch and it took a couple months to get right, and I was never asked to throw a fast ball. I say give the kid a chance for a few years before we throw in the towel. Hopefully his confidence hasn’t been wrecked by this mess.

  • jim

    The Cubs fall for rumors all the time. This is without not a very good pick since he was a pre-draft 1st rounder pitching in NCAA D-2 league. Wilken always tries the ridiculous & he got burned on this one. We could be in the top 5 next year for the draft & he will notoriously do it again. He is a strong hendry supporter. that should say something.

  • ry

    wow yet another first round pick just flushed down the toilet. great job mgmt!

  • http://BleacherNation Ramy16

    Well the dominican kid Enrique Acosta..should bring delight

  • PFK

    If it weren’t for bad luck, the Cubs would have no luck at all.

  • Cheryl

    Give the kid more time. He probably should have just tried to go with the instructional league in the first place. It may take until next year before he regains his strength.

  • Hogie

    Does anyone know how serious of a prospect Marwin Gonzalez is? I watched him when he was promoted to Iowa and he looks very comfortable. He covered good ground and changed his aproach at the plate in different situations quite well.

  • KB

    Of all of Wilkens’s asinine, lunatic picks, the Simpson fiasco tops the list. Or maybe it’s a close second to the asinine, lunatic Tyler Colvin pick.

    Yep, he’s an awesome guy to be in charge of the Cub’s future.

    • Brett

      At least Colvin made the show.

  • BT

    KB, I’ll ask again. Who is the hitter picked in the first round after Colvin that is clearly a better pick? If Colvin was an “asinine lunatic” pick, what do you think of Matt Antonelli, Chris Parmalee, Max Sapp, Cody Johnson (who is the lunatic drafting for the Braves?), Hank Conger or Jason Place? Those were almost the entirety of the position players taken after Colvin. The only guy that you could argue Wilken missed on is Travis Snider, whose MLB numbers are quite similar to Colvins. I understand you don’t like Colvin, but Wilken can only choose from the guys available. At this point in time, it looks like he may have made the best of a bad situation (though I will grant you that Snider would be a better choice, just not by much, and that’s with 4 years of hindsight).