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Like an iceberg that can either sink the ship or turn out to be made from chocolate, the 2012 Draft is looming ever closer. We have a pretty good grasp on what the Cubs would like to do (draft one of the top three college pitchers), what they probably won’t have a chance to do (draft one of the top three college pitchers), and what they will probably do instead (take a high school hitter). All of that only applies to the Cubs first round pick, though. What about the rest of the draft?

Baseball America has a tool for you. They have put together a searchable database of their Top 500 draft prospects. The data set can be filtered by rank, name, school, or position. If you are a subscriber you can read scouting reports for many of the players. If you aren’t, you can still enjoy the searchable ranking goodness.

For example, we think the Cubs would like to take pitching early in the draft. We also think they would prefer college pitchers (because they will be ready sooner) and left handed pitchers (because the farm system doesn’t have very many of them). So, who might they be able to take in the supplemental round that is a southpaw and maybe pitching in college? By filtering the database by position for LHP and looking at players ranked between roughly 35 and 55, we have a list of candidates: Brian Johnson from the University of Florida, Hunter Virant from a high school in California, and Alex Wood from the University of Georgia.

Combine a tool like that with the power of Google and the sheer amount of prospect videos on the internet, and you have the perfect way to waste every waking hour from now until the draft. (Brett: Holy crap.)

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 24 – 27
Fresh off a sweep of the Memphis Cardinals, Iowa won again. After this 5-4 win, the Cubs find themselves just three games under .500.

Chris Rusin did not have one of his better games. He held division leading Omaha to four runs in six innings despite giving up a pair of home runs, but he did not get the win. That went to Jeff Beliveau, who was excellent in an inning of relief. Also excellent was Mike MacDougal. Yes, that Mike MacDougal. After a very rough start as a Cub, MacDougal has been putting up some surprisingly good innings lately. Collecting his third save of the season was Scott Maine.

With Anthony Rizzo still nursing a sore wrist, Josh Vitters not only got to start at first base, he put on his best Rizzo impression. Vitters was 2 for 3 with a home run, two runs scored, and a walk. That home run was the third Vitters has hit in the last four games, and his seventh this month (and this season).

Dave Sappelt also had two hits for the Cubs, and catcher Brian Esposito doubled for the team’s only other extra base hit. The team was horrible in RBI situations (just 1 for 11 with men in scoring position), but still managed to score five times on just eight hits for the win.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 22 – 30
When the Smokies win, they often do it with pitching. That was the formula on Tuesday as Tennessee prevailed 3-2.

Nick Struck was spectacular. He pitched six innings and gave up just three hits as he struck out nine, earning a well deserved fifth win. Alberto Cabrera allowed two runs to score, but thanks to Kevin Rhoderick (who collected his first save) the Smokies escaped with the win.

Tennessee did not have much offense in this game, but they had just enough to win. Junior Lake returned to the top of the order and put together another two hit night, including the team’s only extra base hit (a double). Jae-Hoon Ha also had two hits and Justion Bour reached three times on a hit and two walks. Ha stole his fifth base of the season.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 19 – 30
Fans in Brevard County got to enjoy watching the Daytona Cubs in a double header on Tuesday, but unfortunately Daytona lost twice, 4-1 and 5-2.

The biggest story of the day was Robert Whitenack‘s return to Daytona after enduring elbow surgery last season. His first outing, four and a third innings, was not spectacular (10 H, 3ER, 1BB, 0K), but it wasn’t a disaster either. He’ll need a few more innings to shake the rust off before we can start to measure where he is and how much work he has to do.

Ryan Searle stepped in to relieve Whitenack with an impressive performance of his own. Of the five outs Searle recorded, four were strikeouts.

The Daytona offense managed just six hits in Game One, and two them (including a double) came from Richard Jones. Arismendy Alcantara stole his thirteenth base of the season in this game, and John Andreoli added two steals to his season total, which now stands at fourteen.

Patrick Francescon pitched a six inning complete game in Game Two of the doubleheader, but it resulted in the first loss of his High A career. In his six innings he allowed five runs on eight hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

Daytona managed only six hits in this game as well. Greg Rohan‘s two run homer (his ninth of the season) accounted for both of the Cubs’ runs. Alcantara was 2 for 2 with a walk.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 23 – 29
It took fourteen innings, but the Chief’s walked away with a 4-3 win.

Kyler Burke only allowed one hit in his five innings of work, but he also walked five. Burke is not usually wild; this is an odd result for him. Larry Suarez came on for the sixth and seventh and allowed one run on four hits. After that, Luis Liria, Yao-Lin Wang, and Sheldon McDonald combined to throw five innings of scoreless relief. That was all for the bullpen. In the thirteenth inning, shortstop Kenny Socorro (recently arrived in Peoria) took the mound and threw two perfect frames for his first win of the season.

A lot of Chiefs had rough nights at the plate. Only Ryan Cuneo, Anthony Giansanti (playing catcher again), and Yasiel Balaguert had two hits in the game. Cuneo hit his fourth home run of the season. Balaguert and Zeke DeVoss both doubled. Oliver Zapata was just 1 for 7, but that one hit drove in Pin-Chieh Chen with the game winning run.

Javier Baez stole his first base of the season (and otherwise was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts and a walk). DeVoss stole his thirteenth bag, and Chen swiped his sixth.

  • CubFan Paul

    Is the 4th best college pitcher not worthy of being drafted 6th overall, if the top 3 are gone?

    • tim815

      Probably not. While personal preference determines which of Appel, Zimmer, and Gausman you prefer, the next option is probably Michael Wacha. And there is a marked drop-off. If the top 3 college arms are gone, not only do a number of high school hitters, but also two high school pitchers.

      In the baseball drafting, you draft the top player on your board. While Wacha will go about tenth or twelfth, he won’t go sixth.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Exactly.  It would be a big enough of a reach that I only see the Cubs doing so that non-top-three college pitcher agreed to sign for a decent amount below slot, freeing up cash to be used elsewhere.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Jinx.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Many pundits say no. The reason you might consider it, though, is if you thought you could sign him for under slot, and then use the savings elsewhere in the Draft.

      • CubFan Paul

        That’s my understanding of the new rules. & with our needs for pitching maybe theo&Co draft need over best available. I wouldn’t be mad

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I have a hard time justifying not signing the best available player at No. 6 over all.

          • CubFan Paul

            Theo&Co could always ‘spin’ it and say they have Wacha or another college pitcher ranked higher on their boards than others

  • hansman1982

    “Combine a tool like that with the power of Google and the sheer amount of prospect videos on the internet, and you have the perfect way to waste every waking hour from now until the draft. (Brett: Holy crap.)”

    So you are saying I can be a real drafting hero, just like Theo? (BN Bonus points to whomever can figure out the movie I grafted this line from)

  • Rynomite

    Don’t look now, but Vitters has hit in 12 of his last 13 games, including 5 doubles, 4 homers, 4 walks, and a respectable 8 Ks over that stretch. For the month of May, he has posted an .875 OPS. He’s no Rizzo, but that’s not bad for a 22-year-old in AAA. Kid might just live up to his promise after all. *fingers crossed.

    • hansman1982

      He does seem like someone who makes adjustments until he figures it out and proceeds to REAGAN MASH! He might be a very valuable 3B for 4-5-6 years.

  • AD

    If Vitters continues to play well I’d like to see him brought up in August or at least September to give him a taste of the bigs. However, he is still only 22 (college age) so another year in the minors is not inconcievable.

  • HuskerCub

    I was at the Omaha v. Iowa game last night and although they won, Iowa did not look all that impressive. There was no offense until Omaha brought in Doug Davis. The Omaha starter, Jonathon Sanchez, was making a rehab appearance and cruised through 5 2/3 on 76 pitches, giving up just 3 hits and 1 BB. One of those hits was Vitters HR that was of the wind aided variety. Wind was blowing out to right at 15 to 20 mph and Vitters HR just cleared the fence in right center. Vitters also doesn’t look like a 3rd basemen to the naked eye. Didn’t seem to have the quickness required for the hot corner, but obviously tough to say having seen him play only one game at 1st base. Overall the “Cubs Way” seems to be taking root in Iowa, as these guys swing early and often and appear to be tough to walk. They did take 3 walks in the 8th, but one was intentional (Vitters with men on 2nd and 3rd) and the other 2 even Castro or Soriano would have walked. The Omaha reliever, Colon, was missing the strike zone by a wide margin. Overall Vitters looked pretty good at the plate, Beliveau pitched well, Rusin looked very good until the 6th, when he ran out of gas, and Maine had an easy 9th. Luis Valbuena also looked pretty good at the plate (although he only went 1 for 5) and in the field. Brett Jackson had one well hit ball, but otherwise did not look great.

  • North Side Irish

    Two weeks ago I would’ve agreed with you that the Cubs were likely to take a high school hitter, but I think that might be the least likely option now. Lots of reports have Correa going before the Cubs pick which would likely drop one of the college arms to #6. Zimmer’s stock is starting to drop due to some shaky outings and a little lost velocity, and I’m starting to think he’ll be there.

    I’d still prefer they take a shot at Giolito who has arguably the highest upside in the draft and has begun throwing again. An elbow sprain isn’t necessarily a sign he’s fragile, so as long as the medicals check out, I’d take the change. I know they’ve scouted Max Fried pretty extensively as well and there is no one like him in the system right now.

    Almora is considered a safe bet to be an above average player in the majors, but he doesn’t have the upside of Giolito or even Fried.

    • When the Music’s Over

      Almost no high school pick can be considered a safe bet to be an above average MLB player.

      • Kyle

        This.

        Almora may be a safer bet than others, but I still wouldn’t put 50/50 on him reaching 5 WAR in the big leagues.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          He’s consistently regarded roughly on par with Correa, and those two are a step or two behind Baxter.

          They are also a step or two ahead of Fried, who looks like the next best pitching option after the top three college starters are off the board.  I’d be happy with any of Fried, Almora, or Correa (and right now that’s my order of preference).  Giolito slots in there somewhere, depending on his health and contract demands.

        • North Side Irish

          Agreed…I was probably oversimplifying it. The “consensus” on Almora seems to be that he has lower probability of busting than most HS players. Solid tools across the board and an advanced approach at the plate mean that he is a little more likely to keep advancing upward than a lot of HS position players.

  • AB

    are there any recent scouting reports on Kevin Rhoderick??

    Combined with Cabrera that’s a nice end of the pen. Cabrera has really cut down his BB rate since moving to the pen.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haven’t heard anything on Rhoderick recently. I was once told he had the best breaking pitch in the system.

      • Brandon

        Kevin Rhoderick in my opinion is the anchor of the Tennessee bullpen. He came in to clean up Cabrera’s mess last night…..2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Tying run on 3rd. Go ahead run on 2nd in the top of the 8th. TOUGH SPOT. He was NAILS!! Induced a sharp ground ball to shortstop with the infield in (great play by Junior Lake) which held the runner at third, then got a ground ball to 3rd (Cerda) for the final out (thanks to a gift call by the umpire who called the runner out after Justin Bour pulled his foot at first). He shut the Stars down in the 9th for the save. GREAT WIN!!

        Rhoderick is small in stature, and has a knee buckling breaking ball and a good off speed pich. His fastball is respectable at 88-90Mph…..which is just enough to sneak it by hitters who may be sitting on his breaking stuff. In my opinion, he is a right handed Jeff Beliveau.

        Kevin fnds a way to work out of tough spots (like last night) and it is clear to me he has the confidence of Manager Buddy Bailey.

  • RoughRiider

    I know it’s a big reach at 6 and he probably won’t be available at 43, but I’d like to see the Cubs draft Richie Shaffer of Clemson.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Massive reach at No. 6.  I wouldn’t rule him out at 43, though.  We’re not real sure how this draft is going shake out after the top few picks.  If several teams try to work the budget by taking under-slot guys in the first round (a very possible scenario), then some players who we would otherwise expect to go in the first round could start to fall.

      • Pete

        That a massive reach at 6 will almost cetrtainly be gone at 43, and there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it, is why MLB needs to allow the draft picks to become tradable. And the new CBA with its strict caps seems to make that even more unlikely in the future.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Some picks (the competitive balance lottery round picks) are already tradeable.  Many feel that it is only a matter of time before all picks are opened up in that manner (though it won’t happen until the next CBA).

  • OkieCub

    What are your thoughts on Heaney? I won’t even pretend to know what I’m talking about on scouting pitchers, but I’ve seen him pitch several times at OSU, and he seems like a strong prospect.

    • djriz

      most mock drafts have him mid first round (14-20). Picking him with number 6 would be a reach..unless…under slot money…yada. yada.

  • http://bornonthird.mlblogs.com/ George Cotugno

    I really think Correa is the key to the whole draft, if for some reason he goes in the top five then the Cubs might have a shot at a college arm. If he doesn’t (which is likely IMO) then the pick comes down to Almora, Correa, or the best left-handed pitcher in the draft, Fried. My guess is Cubs take Almora, if Gausman, Appel, and Zimmer are gone, which they should be… A wet dream is Zimmer falling to 6.
    http://bornonthird.mlblogs.com/2012/05/29/massive-2012-mlb-first-year-player-draft-preview/

    • Ryan G

      There’s almost no way Correa is available to the Cubs. Honestly, I’d pretty much say he’s a lock for the top 3.

      • http://bornonthird.mlblogs.com George Cotugno

        That’s what I’m thinking, but I guess it depends on if Zunino goes as high as some people think. Buxton, Gausman, Zimmer, Appel all go before Correa in my opinion.

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