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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.

  • Spoda17

    I really think we need a ton of offense… why are we picking so many pitchers..?

    • nkniacc

      first of all most of the tpop prospects cubs have are position players and 2nd pitcching is a more valued commonity in the trade market than a position player and 3rd this is a weak postion player draft

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The big league team might need offense, but the minor league system needs pitching.

      • Njriv

        Thats what i was going to say, the needs for the big league club and the minor leagues are completely opposite.

  • Dumpgobbler

    In regards to McNeil – Why only have 1 Ben Wells when you can have two?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      The Cubs would take ten Ben Wells if they could them.

      • JNasty

        A little off the topic of the draft. Did Ben Wells injure himself in his last start? He left after two innings. If so, any updates?

  • nkniacc

    Im surprised at the number of RHP I figured they would take a bunch of LHP as well

  • Dumpgobbler

    Also, what do you guys have on the over/under on how many male fans whip out their Pierced Johnson’s if/when he makes it up?

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRRisYoG4ls

    That’s a video of Corbin Hoffner pitching in front of a radar gun.  He’s definitely big, and he’s definitely a pitcher.  Can’t tell much else at first glance.

    I’ve only watched a few seconds of it so far.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Hard to see but doesnt look like hes lighting up the radar gun but intriguing that hes not even 19 yet and was playing well

    • Toby

      The first curveball he threw, although not fast, was lights out.

  • JulioZuleta

    Brett, I was literally about to start typing “Call me Maybe” to Geiger and then saw yours. Great (immature) minds…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Winky face.

  • Cerambam

    So who are the players after the 1st round picks that we are sipposed
    To be excited about, i feel as though last year
    It was much more apparent as to who were the big names outside of Baez (see maples,vogelbach, dunston, Gretzky, whoever) were. I’m not complaining and I’m sure there is a plan but I’m curious

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I know what you mean, and I wish I had an obvious answer for you (we love narratives). From what I know so far, we should be excited with the players pretty much in order through the 5th/6th round, and then again at picks 11 through 14. I suspect that’s where you’ll see the largest bonuses (but it will still be a huge range).

      • nkniacc

        Id agree Brett I think 5-10 sign for under slot and if i had to guess the last kid the Cubs took is the one that they have taken Id guess won’t be signed

      • Drew7

        Maples and Big V I get, but would you put Dunston and Gretzky in that category if not for the pedigree? Dunston doesnt really excite me at all.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Dunston’s actually received some of the highest marks in extended Spring Training. He was more impressive (apparently) than people expected. He’s a great athlete, but it turns out he might also be a pretty good baseball player already, too. Still very, very young.

  • nkniacc

    I wonder if anyone between 11-15 won’t sign

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Statistically, probably.

      • Dumpgobbler

        At first glance you’d have to think Crawford would be a tough sign.

  • college_of_coaches

    Brett, I don’t know if anyone has commented on this, but regarding Rademacher’s transfer from Cal State Fullerton (which is a good baseball program) to a Juco, the story may have been his desire to turn pro earlier. Unlike the NBA, college players cannot declare hardship for the MLB draft. The rules are that Juco players are eligible each year they play, and all the rest are eligible after their junior year or by their 21st birthday (which ever comes first). Back in the 90s, Alex Fernandez transfered from UMiami to a Juco after his freshman year in order to enter the draft a year earlier than he had initially expected.

    If this is the case, Rademacher might be easy to sign. At the least, I hope this was the reason and not because he was showing up on game-day drunk.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for the thoughts, CC. Very well could explain it.

  • djriz

    Now that today is over, draft wise, I must say…meh…
    Does anyone else feel that everything between 4th and 10th round is to pay for Almora, or something? A ton of guys picked WAY over projected spot, some with injury history, to boot.

    Maybe Boros is going to make uo for the money he lost with Appel by screwing Cubs with Almora.

    Oh well, at least the top 5 picks look solid.

    • Joe

      Don’t know. but I will say I think Soto’s days are numbered with the Cubs drafting 2 catchers so far.

      • nkniacc

        neither one of those catchers will be ready for the majors until 2015 at the earliest. I think the catcher in the 9th was taken to free up some money and the catcher at 15 may have to take what the cubs offer or not be signed

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        Management does not give any thought to the players currently in the organization when making these picks. These catchers will likely NEVER see the major leagues.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        The Cubs have better catchers already in the farm system than what they took today.

        • Joe

          Yes. My point was with the 2 catchers today, what.s in the farm, and Clevenger/Castillo, I really can’t see Soto being around to much longer.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I really don’t a see a likely under slot / reach pick until the seventh round.  I like the crop of pitchers the Cubs took at 2 through 6.

      The only one that doesn’t excite me at all is the catcher at No 9.  The infielder at 7 is interesting, but the Cubs have a lot of guys who are very similar already.  The pitchers at 8 and 10 have some upside in a back of the rotation kind of way.  I think they could reach the majors, and after the first few rounds that’s good enough for me to like the pick.

      • djriz

        Yes, the first five picks look great.

        But, after that:
        7 of the 12 picks did not make BA’s top 500. (rounds 5,7,8,9,10,11,14)
        3 were picked about where BA had them. (rounds 6, 13,15)
        1 was picked at pick 134, rated 208, so kind of close. (round 4)
        1 was a good value. Picked at #374, rated #288. (round 12)

        So it seems to me that about 75% of the picks, on the surface, were overdrafts.

        I do understand that:
        -Baseball America is not all knowing.
        -Don’t know signability issues.
        -I still want each and every pick to become stars for the Cubs.

  • Kevin

    Don’t know the rules regarding prearranged discussions about bonuses but I would suspect some words were exchanged between the Cubs and some of the draftees. If half of these high schoolers pan out, i’ll consider it a good draft and give Theo & Company a B+ grade so far. The rest of the draft gets tricky. Unless you sign a college senior who has no other options. The bonus limit going forward can’t exceed $100K, correct

    • nkniacc

      They can offer more than 100k but anything over 100k goes into the pool amount the Cubs had to spend to that may also be why the Cubs went a bit for seniors to free up a bit of change to take a couple of swings at some upsided talented players

  • Kevin

    Hopefully they have enough money left over to secure some decent prospects with a big upside yet to be displayed. The Cubs of the future are being pieced together In hopes to be competitive every year. Every player wants to play for a winner and hopefuy this could be enough for a borderline draftee to decide to sign this year. Realistically, how many, if any, will not sign?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Every year, a handful don’t sign, mostly at the very end of the Draft. Of the 42 picks, I’m guessing the Cubs sign around 30 to 35. Last year the Cubs signed 34 of 50.

  • calicubsfan007

    The prospects look interesting, but that first catcher seems to be drafted too high. The Cubs really seemed to pick players that other teams overlooked because of age, injury, or consistency. This method worked for Theo before, so I trust in his judgement here.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    If you get a chance google Stephen Bruno pedroia , this kid is a definite possible second base candidate with POWER, tools, & smarts , The best pick of the day if the Cubs can sign him. He will advance quickly if they place him properly.

    • calicubsfan007

      Why wasnt he drafted higher? Was the injury that detrimental to his player ranking?

  • Joe

    Brett, I don’t consider Conway a lottery ticket with his injury. I do think Theo took a gamble with Conway, but nothing wrong with that. Could be big payoff. That’s why I would liken the Conway pick more toward a (short) long shot, 10-1 odds.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Lottery tickets have all kinds of odds. We’re saying the same thing.

    • Drew7

      So…a scratch-off?

      • Joe

        Ya. Your odds of hitting SOMETHING on a scratch-off are pretty good. Maybe not the greatest when you hit, but something to make you smile about!

  • Cubs Dude

    MLBTR is reporting Correa is gonna sign in the next day or so for 5 million. The Astros are gonna have some extra dough, must be nice…

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      They are going to need it to sign McCullers. Great move on their part.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    LaHair is back hitting the cover off the ball :)

  • Cub Gone Wild

    You guys minced him

  • http://BleacherNation Ramy16

    I was reading the Chicago Tribune.. They are saying Almora is going to be hard to sign since no.1 he’s committed to the U of Miami no.2 he has Scott Boras as his Agent! I can’t stand Scott Boras! So Brett what’s ya thought on this? Thanks

    • Joe

      Money talks my man!

      • Njriv

        This kid devoted most of his life to baseball, you can tell he really enjoys the game. I don’t think he is going to risk being the 6th overall pick by going to college for a couple years and face a big chance of hurting his stock. Seems to me like a Scott Boras trap.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Will write about it tomorrow. I remain unworried. Mostly.

  • Rich

    If he really wants to go to college why enter the draft and waste a teams time ??

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Players don’t enter the MLB Draft. They’re just all eligible.

      • calicubsfan007

        Baseball needs to sort that out. They need to be more like football when it comes to the draft. It is way too confusing when figuring out whether this player is going to college or going to the pros. They should make their intentions clear, none of this on the fence crap.

        • Cubs Dude

          I completely agree. It really makes everything a mess. But I think it’s NCAA related. But wouldn’t it be nice if you either entered the draft or didn’t like most sports, way less drama that way..

          • hansman1982

            The interesting bit is entering the draft in other sports makes you ineligible for the NCAA.

            However, in regards to “this on the fence crap”, it is all about the $$$. If you can drive your price up by making the team think you are going to school you do it. For 90% of these kids this will be their only big payday so you have to maximize that.

            The same goes for Almora, all this talk of college is just a ruse to make Theo think he is seriously considering school and hoping to be the #1 pick next year and make an extra $3-4M.

            • Cubbie Blues

              Would it really be the worst thing ever if we couldn’t sign him? Think about it, next year we could have the #1/2 pick & the #7. That could bring in an awfully good haul.

              • hansman1982

                True, however the #7 pick isn’t as valuable as the #6 in terms of overall $$$ for the cap – plus we would lose out a year of development on a guy who appears to be a good centerfielder

    • Cubs Dude

      It’s all Boras B.S. He was told by DoucheBoras to say that so he could get more money. He will sign with the Cubs, hopefully for no more than slot though..

  • Rich

    Ah years of watching baseball
    And I did not know that

    What happens if he does not sign
    To the cubs for that pick??

    Thanks

    • Kyle

      They get a replacement pick, one spot later in the next draft. So next year, they’d have the No. 7 pick.

  • Njriv

    Meanwhile Dolis blows a save for Iowa.

  • Cheryl

    It looks like Boras wants to make up for what he lost with Appel not being the number one pick and the possibility that Appel won’t even sign. How hard will it be to sign Almora? And is there a possibility they won’t? Wouldn’t they want to concentrate on Jorge Soler if it looks like s problem?

    • Joe

      I think Almora signs. Again, to much money to refuse.(and other things)

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Soler will be an entirely different kettle of fish as there will be multiple teams bidding on him.  That’s a lot different from one baseball scholarship as a counter-offer: Theo & Jed cannot somehow block the other teams out from negotiating with Soler and the other teams will be offering unknown amounts (albeit certainly a lot more than a college scholarship).

      At any rate, signing Almora in no way affects their interest in Soler: Soler is just as valuable to the Cubs with or without Almora in the same system.  The system desperately needs multiple guys with the potential to be “impact” players.  These guys can do more than one thing at a time: we see that in post-season a lot when GM’s pull off several moves in short succession; it just means that vacation time will be a little bit more earned in the end.  (Doubly so if they sign both young men.)

  • http://BN Dan

    When do guys we drafted next year start playing for our minor leagues? Maples Vogelbach? I see baez has started but what about the others.

  • Eric

    God this draft sucked. I’m not talking the guys at the top, seem like some good guys. I mean any pick after pick 4. They were mostly just money sinks. Man how exciting would this have been if Theo had no retraints. Instead of “yeah looks like they are saving for rounds 11 and on” we’d get alot of “hmm, this guy seems interesting, he could be pretty good!”. I feel like over half of our picks were for complete nobodies just so they could save some overslot money. Competely FUCKING SUCKS (sorry Brett).

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