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Well, it was a late and exciting night last night, when the Cubs selected high school outfielder Albert Almora with their first selection in the 2012 MLB Draft (sixth overall), and then college pitcher Pierce Johnson (43rd overall) and high school pitcher Paul Blackburn (56th overall). And, while they may be among the highest rated prospects selected by the Cubs in this year’s Draft, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Rounds two through fifteen will go today over the next few hours.

Anthony Rizzo is pretty roundly considered the Cubs’ top prospect at this point. But where was he five years ago? He was being drafted by Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod in the sixth round of the Draft, and signing for $325,000.

The point? There is some seriously important talent at stake in these middle rounds. There are a number of first round/supplemental round-caliber talents left on the board, including guys like Tanner Rahier, Chris Beck, Anthony Alford, Hunter Virant, and Ty Buttrey, among many, many others. The nice thing for the Cubs? A great deal of the best available talent is on the pitching side.

Things get underway at 11am CT, and you can watch a stream at MLB.com.

We’ll cover the picks here live. Throughout, I reckon there will be a steady stream of salient thoughts dropped in the comments, on the Message Boardon Twitter, and on Facebook. So join in, wherever your preference for chatting might lie.

Away we go, and here are the Cubs’ picks in round order (I’ll be updating as the Draft goes along):

2. Duane Underwood, RHP, Pope HS (GA) – One of the youngest pitchers in the Draft, Underwood is a high upside, raw prospect. I’m glad the Cubs went this route with one of their early picks. He’s 6’2″, 205 lbs, so he’s already a big kid. Here’s MLB.com’s take: “Underwood is everything you’d want from a high school pitcher: athletic with arm strength, a chance to have three at least Major League-average pitches and outstanding mound presence.The Georgia product will sit in the low 90s with his fastball typically, but he can reach back for 95-96 mph occasionally. His secondary offerings aren’t as good as the fastball, but both his curve and changeup have a chance. When he throws them right, his curve can have a very good 12-to-6 late break and his changeup can be very deceptive. He doesn’t throw either consistently right now and he does have some issues with command at times. His poise, knowledge of the game and athleticsm say he’ll continue to evolve as a pitcher, meaning he could start moving up charts this spring.”

3. Ryan McNeil, RHP, Nipomo HS (CA) – Another high school pitcher for the Cubs (that’s three in a row). He’s 6’3″, 210 lbs, so, yes, he’s another big kid, who throws hard. The Cubs certainly have a type early in this Draft (and it’s exactly what they said they wanted). I’m a little surprised that they haven’t taken a lefty yet, though. McNeil was apparently worked out by the Cubs some time ago, so he was obviously on their radar. He was also telling teams that he was “pretty interested in signing,” so it’s fair to wonder if the Cubs might have known they could sign him easily.

4. Josh Conway, RHP, Coastal Carolina U. – Another right-handed pitcher for the Cubs, but there’s a twist here: not only is he a college pitcher, but he also just had Tommy John surgery. Apparently he was a big-time draft prospect until he went down the elbow injury. From MLB.com: “In the smaller Big South Conference, Coastal Carolina has built a pretty good program that saw four players get drafted and sign in 2011. This year, it could have been Conway’s turn before an elbow injury ended his season and required Tommy John surgery. Once a two-way player, Conway gave up hitting completely to focus on the mound in 2012 and it was paying off. Coastal Carolina’s Friday starter, he’s a bit of an undersized right-hander, but one with a pretty good three-pitch mix. A good athlete on the mound, he throws a fastball, slider and changeup, all of which have the chance to be solid average offerings. Without truly overpowering stuff, he’ll have to continue to improve his command and keep hitters off-balance. Pre-injury, he had the chance to join teammate (and 2011 second-round pick) Anthony Meo as a fairly early Draft pick. Now a team will have to be willing to draft him and let him rehab under its watchful eye.” It will be interesting to see how much money he’ll take to sign, given that it’s pretty much a lottery ticket for the Cubs, and it would be hard for him to improve his Draft stock by returning to college for his senior year when he might not be able to pitch.

5. Anthony Prieto, LHP, Americas HS (TX) – Finally, a left-handed pitcher. Prieto is a smaller guy (5’11” 170 lbs), who’s apparently new to pitching. He was at the tail end of BA’s top 500 draft prospects, so it makes you wonder if this is a kid the Cubs have spoken to, and believe they can sign for under slot.

6. Trey Lang, RHP, Gateway CC (Arizona) – Another hard-throwing right-handed pitcher for the Cubs, Lang is a top 200 draft prospect, and one who will probably be signing right around slot, if not a touch under. He’s a converted outfielder, so there isn’t much polish. As with many of the other pitchers, it’s all about his upside.

7. Stephen Bruno, 3B, University of Virginia – Hey, a positional player! Bruno was not considered a consensus top 300/400 type prospect in the Draft, so this pick could be a bit about trying to sign a player under slot (though Bruno is not a senior, he’s a junior). Bruno’s played around the infield, but missed the 2011 season with an injury. He’s a smaller guy – 5’9″ 165 lbs, but he had great numbers at Virginia this year (.370/.424/.559). Sounds like a vintage Theo/Jed/Jason pick.

8. Michael Heesch, LHP, University of South Carolina-Beaufort – Another pitcher, but this one is a college senior. That is the kind of guy you’d expect to be an underslot target at this point in the Draft. That’s not to say the Cubs don’t like him, but he doesn’t have much leverage. Sounds like Heesch is also a local boy, who pitched a couple years at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Yeah, all in all, I’m think this one saves the Cubs some money.

9. Chadd Krist, C, University of California-Berkeley – The Cubs take another college senior. Krist is a relatively light-hitting catcher, and I don’t think the Cubs view him as, for example, a Geovany Soto (or even Steve Clevenger/Welington Castillo) replacement in a few years. He’ll be depth at the position, and the Cubs will see what happens. They’ll also probably sign him for underslot.

10. Chad Martin, RHP, Indiana University – The Cubs go back to a pitcher, and it’s another college senior. Martin split time in the rotation and in the bullpen, but wasn’t particularly impressive (by the stats) in a lesser league. Once again, I’d say the Cubs are looking to save some money. Where they plan on using it remains to be seen. I don’t mean to tell you that some of the earlier pitchers they took won’t require overslot money, mind you. It just doesn’t look that way to me on a first glance.

11. Rashad Crawford, CF, Mundy’s Mill HS (GA) – As I’d hoped, the Cubs go with a high schooler in the 11th round, but I haven’t yet been able to determine whether he’s a “tough to sign” type of high schooler. I’m guessing he is, based on the placement (then again, he’s committed to Tallahassee Community College, which is fine, but not the kind of powerhouse baseball school you tend to fear when trying to sign a kid). Looks like he was the Georgia 4-AAAA player of the year, and has been compared to a “more advanced Lorenzo Cain.”

12. Justin Amlung, RHP, University of Louisville – Another college senior  junior (redshirt), but, given his placement in the Draft, the Cubs must actually just like him a lot. He’s the 288th ranked prospect according to BA, so there you go. He had great numbers this year. Now that I see he’s a redshirt junior, he might be a tough sign.

13. Bijan Rademacher, OF, Orange Coast College (CA) – The number 445 Draft prospect, according to BA, Rademacher was at Cal State Fullerton last year, but now is at Orange Coast, which is a Juco. I’m not sure of the story.

14. Corbin Hoffner, RHP, St. Petersburg College (FL) – Another Juco selection, Hoffner is a tall righty (6’5″) who put up huge numbers in his league. He’s also quite young for a “college” draftee – he doesn’t turn 19 until the end of July.

15. Carlos Escobar, C, University of Nevada-Reno – BA had Escobar ranked 448 in the Draft. He’s a junior who put up decent, but not overwhelming numbers this past year.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Virant would be nice.  I also like the looks of Mitch Brown out of the great state of Minnesota.

  • Patrick

    Is it on MLB network? And what’s the Cubs next pick?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The Cubs pick sixth in the second round. It’s on MLB.com.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I think it is online only today.

      http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/draft/y2012/draftlive_app.jsp

      That should be it.  Cubs pick No 6.

    • BD

      I thought the Cubs had the 7th pick? Isn’t there a comp pick or something in there?

      • hansman1982

        Cubs have already gotten their comp picks.

  • Bash

    Excellent job covering this guys. Well done!

  • Richard Nose

    Your boys Virant and Wood still there. Anybody ever heard of Logan Ehlers RHP from Nebraska/Texas? I’d think rd 4 – 6 or so.

  • Patrick

    Kyle Hansen from St. Johns I heard is very good , hard thrower about 6’8 still available

  • gocatsgo2003

    “Calibre…” What is this, England?

    Kidding aside, this is probably the first time I’ve actually been interested in the MLB draft, due in no small part to BN’s coverage and the hope that Theo actually knows what he’s doing.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. I’ve always preferred that spelling. I edited to Americanize.

      And thanks.

  • JB88

    Things are developing well if the Cubs want to pick Wood or Virant.

  • Chris

    I’m sorry to be negative but people say he 220 hitter now that could be a 300 in future. I don’t care how many walks a guy had in highschool kids have horrible control at that level. I would say a contact hitter would be better to develop. Ya can teach a guy to lay off a pitch. Im thinking it’s alot harder to teach them how to actually hit one. I guess I’m getting at I’d take a team of guys who hit like castro over any Brett Jackson style hitter who has mostly average tools except he would probably swing and miss on a softball. I’m sorry but 20 20 guys to me don’t mean that much if that’s all they can contribute. I’m sorry but walks rarely ever drive runs in ya gotta put a bat to ball. I just hate seeing someone called the cubs future when he gonna be a white version of soriano with a healthier legs.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He didn’t hit .220 in high school. Kyle is saying he might hit .220 if he were playing in MLB today, as an 18-year-old. He hit a million in high school.

    • Gabriel

      Who the hell are you talking about? Almora has been roundly praised by Keith Law, Kevin Goldstein, BA, etc as a wonderful prospect both offensively and defensively.

      He also hit over .600 last year with 30 XBH’s in 19 games…not sure where you’re coming from or who you’re talking about.

    • Drew7

      I have never seen such backwards baseball-thinking in my life. Wait, scratch that…Dusty?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Yes, high school pitchers have horrible control.  Yet a lot of guys who get drafted still do not take too many walks.  Players with professional contact skills can probably get their bats on anything that the typical (or even above average) HS pitcher can throw: and the Cubs certainly have drafted plenty of those guys only to discover that this talent rarely survives all the way to the majors.  The fact that Almora did take walks and thus didn’t try to get his bat on everything shows that he might have a batting eye.

  • MightyBear

    Duane Underwood – thoughts?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Pure upside pick.  There’s a lot of risk on this pick, but he is very young, flashes some good stuff, and could have a very bright future.

      The Cubs need some high upside pitchers, and Underwood fits that description.

  • chirogerg

    Cubs Draft Duane Underwood: what a great name

  • djriz

    Duane Underwood. HS Pitcher.
    Very Good ‘value’ pick. (Rated higher than picked).

  • Sweetjamesjones

    Oooh. Please tell me Bud Selig is giving more awkward looks at the camera waiting to go live….or just more awkward hugs.

    • Richard Nose

      Bud ‘CorpseWalker’ Selig? That Bud Selig?

    • ProfessorCub

      I’m pretty sure I saw Bud in a cameo at the end of Game of Thrones the other night

      • MaxM1908

        Awesome comment. Too true. I never knew he could ride horseback.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Only if the horse is dead and well away from <oh wait, the TV show hasn’t got that far, has it; but, seriously, they did kind of give it away, didn’t they?>….

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        NO SPOILERS!

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Thusly edited, good sir!  However, think Anton Chekhov….

          ;-)

    • Ron Swanson

      Does he also appear to be eating something (or cleaning his teeth) each time he comes up as well?

  • Chris

    Yes I know soriano don’t walk but I hate guys who can’t hit for average unless you got crazy power.

    • Gabriel

      Almora’s hit tool has been graded at 70 in some places – that’s All Star level

  • GeorgeHermanLaHair

    http://www.collegesportsmadness.com/article/3084

    Wrote back in January but I like how it sounds.

  • JB88

    I understand that you always pick for value and not need in the draft, but it is very curious to me that the Cubs have selected nothing but right handers, despite a very clear belief that lefties play better at Wrigley.

    I don’t want to read too much (or anything) into it, but it does make me wonder how good they think the LHP is in the draft or how much better they rate Johnson, Blackburn, and Underwood than the available southpaws in the draft.

    • North Side Irish

      Definitely a weak year for LHP, but I’m with you….I thought we would’ve seen one by now. I was hoping for Smoral yesterday with one of the sandwich picks or even Wood or Virant today (signability questions probably why they didn’t).

      I actually like the Underwood pick more than either of the sandwich picks.

  • jim

    Indicates cubs are on a five year plan timeline.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Not necessarily: remember that good young talent can be exchanged for good veteran players.  Theo did that a couple of times with the Sox.  The ideal is to have enough to acquire parts to compete in 2014/15 while having some to bring up to the big show in 2016/17.  Like all tactics, what happens in the trenches is a little out of control: but you devise your tactics assuming some casualties.

  • Andrew

    When is the Cubs next pick, and I Understand these drafts are hard to predict, but any guess where they might go next?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The picks from here on out are *pretty much* separated by about 30 picks.

      • North Side Irish

        Cubs are up in about 9 picks…pick 101

  • BD

    Is there anywhere that shows a running list of ALL picks? That way I know how close we are to the Cubs next pick.

    For all the info on the MLB web site, this seems to be the only thing I can’t find (or that is lacking).

  • ProfessorCub

    Here’s a little blurb about Underwood – seems like a great athlete:

    http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story/18846520/article-Cobb’s-best-players-await-start-of-Major-League-Baseball-draft-today?mobile_view=false

    I live in Georgia now, and this kid has been the talk of the state for a year – lots of hype.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    On a side note, Keith Law’s chat today twice reminds fans not to read too much into plans for existing players given the draft.

    Also, KLaw calls the Underwood pick “excellent.”

  • Leroy K.

    great pick!!!

  • cjdubbya

    Cool. Went to YouTube – first video for a search “Ryan McNeil Nipomo” – some dude in a backwards baseball cap dunking a basketball. At least the Cubs’ third-round pick has some hops.

  • CBP

    Cubs just had a good pick

  • North Side Irish

    McNeil is definitely high upside…great athlete with a commit to Long Beach State. The guys on the draft coverage said that HS picks drafter at this point have likely been asked about signing for slot, so it seems likely the Cubs will be able to sign him.

    BA had him #185 on their board and said his FB only sit 90-91. He’s 6-3 so he could fill out still, but it seems like there were a lot of higher ranked guys left on the board. Must be signability concerns with Virant and Lovegrove.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Apparently McNeil looked a lot better late in the season.  Good, high ceiling pick.

    • djriz

      According to most rankings, this seems like a reach, but over the last few years we were saying that after the first round.
      Maybe I’m being optimistic, but it seems like this draft so far is full of high upside players. Sure, High School pitchers are risky, but even if just 1 makes it, we’ll be ahead of the game.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Good for Ryan McNeil. Drove through Nipomo many a time. Off the 101 freeway. Jocko’s Steakhouse is there. Awesome!

  • Joker

    My favorite quote from ESPN’s draft blog yesterday on Almora:

    Kiley McDaniel: They could draft beer league players the rest of the way, Almora is enough for multiple drafts, scouts say he will likely solve time travel within the year and that’s conservative

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Awesome. 2003 World Series, here we come!

      • Joker

        Leon Durham is funding the research to achieve a jump back to 1984 to reverse his “Buckner”.

        (As an aside, can we Cubs fans agree that if not for Buckner two years later, we would still be describing a five hole error as “he Bull’d that one”??? Poor Leon.)

  • emrac

    so refreshing to see the Cubs actually drafting the right way. finally

  • Steve

    I would like to apologize for my drunken rage last night. I wanted a pitcher with our 1st pick, a big name high profile guy and when ALMORA came out of Seligs slobbery, slack jawed lips, the alocohol took over and screened my sensibile side.
    Now that I look at this kid, I am “on board” now.
    Again, sorry ….

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Well, we know that Bud isn’t a wizard: wouldn’t all the doors in the room have opened otherwise?

  • CBP

    I would like to draft a couple catchers and 2B players with are picks coming up

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      There tend not to be too many 2B in the Draft (not as many as other spots, anyway), because the best athlete on a high school’s team plays shortstop or center field. There will be some college second baseman taken, though.

  • Nathan

    They should draft evan van hoosier out of green valley high school in henderson nevada. Kid rakes! He would be a second baseman that CBP wants.

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