Well, day two of the draft was interesting. Thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement we saw a near historic run on college seniors in rounds six through ten. That isn’t necessarily a good thing for those seniors, though, as they are generally expected to be offered less than slot.
The Cubs began Tuesday looking for some quality pitching prospects, and when the day ended they had found quite a few. Josh Conway fell to the fourth round because of elbow surgery, but if that elbow recovers well he could be one of the draft’s biggest steals. I think a lot of people went to sleep on Anthony Preito, the smallish lefty from Texas, as well. Jim Callis said he has hit 97 MPH. He also has had some arm issues, but it is not difficult to imagine a flame throwing lefty having success in the Cubs’ bullpen one day. In my opinion, though, the most intriguing pick is Corbin Hoffner. Hoffner is big, athletic, young for a college pitcher, and put up some pretty good numbers for St. Petersburg College. All the raw ingredients are there for him to become a quality starting pitching prospect.
And I don’t think the Cubs are done yet. They have another twenty five rounds to draft, followed by the signing of some undrafted free agents. This is the part of the draft in which a great front office can separate itself from a merely good one. The Cubs have struck gold in the very late rounds several times in the past few years, and I do not expect that to change this year. The next Trey McNutt is lurking out there somewhere. It’s up to Tim Wilken and Jason MacLeod to find him.
Frankie De La Cruz threw 27 pitches and left the game after two innings. Jay Jackson then came in. Since this was a relief appearance, it was the good Jackson who took the mound and allowed one run over five innings while striking out four. When working out the bullpen, Jackson’s ERA now stands at 1.84. When he starts, it is 8.42.
Once again, Eric Jokisch was fantastic. The lefty threw seven innings of shut out baseball, walking one and striking out one. What he lacked in strikeouts he made up in ground outs, 13 of them to be exact. Brian Schlitter and Ty’relle Harris ran into a bit of trouble in the late innings, but they easily held on the lead and preserved Jokisch’s second Double A win this season.
When a team scores 12 runs on 15 hits, you know there will be plenty of offensive heroes. Justin Bour went 4 for 6 with a double to lead the team. Two hit nights were had by Jae-Hoon Ha (with a triple), Logan Watkins (with a double), Michael Burgess, and Matt Cerda. Collectively, the team was an impressive 7 for 19 with runners in scoring position.
I think it is time to pencil Jae-Hoon Ha’s name on the list of candidates for promotion to Iowa. Ha, listed by Baseball America as the best defensive outfielder in the system, has been steadily improving his numbers since a slow start to the year. He is now the number three hitter in the Smokies line up, and with his 1.023 OPS in his last ten games it is not hard to see why. Including his time with Tennessee last season, Ha is nearing 450 ABs and 120 games at Double A. I don’t think he has much left to prove here. Hopefully the Cubs will send him up to Iowa in a few weeks .
High A – Daytona Cubs. 25 – 31
And suddenly the once hapless Daytona Cubs are just six games under .500. This is a team that could make a run for the second half title and a chance to defend it’s 2011 Championship. They rallied on Tuesday for a 6-5 win.
Austin Kirk kept Bradenton in check for the first six innings. He struck out seven, walked three, and allowed just one run to cross the plate. Three more runs scored on Jeffrey Lorick in the seventh. Ryan Searle gave up one run in the final two frames and received his third win of the season.
Taylor Davis had both his first stolen base and his first caught stealing of the season. This is somewhat remarkable because Davis, although he played third base in this game, is a catcher. When was the last time we saw even a part time catcher attempt two steals in the same game?
Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 26 – 32
The Peoria Chiefs were off on Tuesday, but there is some news here to report. In fact, this should have been reported a few days ago (I did mention it on Twitter at the time).
Four Peoria Chiefs were named to the Midwest League All-Star team. Paul Hoilman, 1B, he of the franchise record hitting streak, will be a starter in the game, as will catcher Rafael Lopez. Zeke DeVoss made the team as a reserve second baseman, and LHP Kyler Burke will be available to pitch in relief for the All-Stars.
And there is more. It is possible, though not confirmed to my knowledge, that Burke is now the first player in Midwest League History to appear in separate All Star games as a batter and as a pitcher. That’s just cool.