On the 20-80 scouting scale, 80s are very rare. Typically 80s are reserved for the best of the best tools, the kind of tools that you will be talking about for years to come. Junior Lake‘s infield arm is an 80, but that might be the only 80 in the Cubs farm system. (Ok, if we count intangibles as a tool then we need to Albert Almora to the list. Some scouts say he has the best attitude and personality they’ve ever seen. But that’s really it). That is not a shot at any of the Cubs’ prospects; 80s are really that rare.
And according to Baseball America, the Cubs are likely to draft an 80 tool in June. Jim Callis of BA sees just three grade-80 tools in the entire draft: Jonathan Gray’s fastball, Kris Bryant’s power, and Matt McPhearson’s speed. Gray and Bryant are squarely on the Cubs’ radar.
Gray’s fastball is described as having plenty of velocity, a late sink, and best of all, he can command it. That’s not a bad weapon for a potential future ace to have.
But the one that was a real eye opener was Bryant. The conventional wisdom on Bryant was that the Cubs would only take him if they felt he could stay at third. Put that idea to bed. If the Cubs agree that his power grades at 80 and they feel he can make enough consistent contact to leverage that power (I think he can), then they’ll consider him no matter where he plays defense. The key line from Callis’s take on Bryant is this:
His combination of bat speed, strength, pitch recognition, discipline and barrelability give him elite power.
In other words, cross B. Jackson with J. Baez, add some more power (Baez grades 65-70), and you almost have K. Bryant. (Brett: So he swings and misses a ton? I kid.)
I honestly hope Houston takes Mark Appel and forces the Cubs to choose between these two. And of the two, believe it or not, I’m leaning towards Bryant. I love the idea of a 100 MPH sinking fastball at the top of the Cubs’ rotation, but there is a high level of risk involved with any pitching prospect. I’d rather re-sign the current rotation, bulk up on high upside arms later in the draft (rounds 2 through whenever), and let a lineup anchored by Rizzo, Bryant, and Soler power the Cubs to the playoffs in a couple of years while the pitching pipeline develops in the farm system.
But if the Cubs take Gray over Bryant, I won’t be complaining. Well, not very much.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa – The Cubs were out hit by five, but they still won 6-4.
Tennessee – Tennessee pulled back to .500 with a 6-4 win on the road.
Daytona – Daytona dropped to .500 with this 3-0 shutout loss.
Kane County – Kane County was also shutout. The final was 4-0.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] By allowing just one hit and one walk in two scoreless innings of relief, Esmailin Caridad dropped his ERA down to 5.74.
- [Tennessee] Matt Szczur stayed hot with two more hits, including his fourth double of the season. He also swiped his 13th base.
- [Tennessee] Speaking of doubles, the Smokies came up with five of them. In addition to Szczur, Rafael Lopez, Tim Torres, Anthony Giansanti, and Rubi Silva all collected a two bagger.
- [Tennessee] Progress from Trey McNutt? Maybe. He struck out the side in a hitless eighth, but he also walked two.
- [Daytona] The Cubs had little offense in this one. Jorge Soler and Chadd Krist account for both of the two walks; Zeke DeVoss and Ben Carhart enjoyed the only two multi-hit games. There were no extra base hits.
- [Daytona] Frank Del Valle had another strong performance in relief. He fanned two in the seventh and allowed nothing.
- [Kane County] Gioskar Amaya might be coming around. The young second baseman had two hits and a steal in this contest.
- [Kane County] The Cougars struck out 11 in this game (six in six innings by Pierce Johnson, and five in two innings by Jeffry Antigua).
- Strikeout watch: Brett Jackson did not have one yesterday. That’s two starts in a row with no strikeouts, leaving him with just two strikeouts in his past five games. Meanwhile in Florida, Javier Baez had just one strikeout for Daytona. That is his only strikeout in his past two games. Progress? Jackson is starting to convince me, but I need a few more games before I start to buy into changes from Baez.
- Low sample size lines are fun. Anthony Giansanti is currently hitting .444/.545/667 for Tennessee. Even though he has appeared in 8 games, he has just 9 official at bats. We should probably let those numbers stabilize before we nominate him for MVP.