Kris BryantOn 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. ┬áHe 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).

Other News

  • 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.
  • LouBrown

    What is Vogelbach’s power rating? Prior to reading this, I had thought it was an 80. Wasn’t that the justification for drafting him to an NL team in spite of the defensive deficiencies?

    • Luke

      65-70, depending on who you read. I lean towards the 70 myself. Soler and Baez are in that same ballpark.

      • King Jeff

        Yeah, I’ve seen it in the 60’s pretty consistently.

    • King Jeff

      Vogelbach has a high hit rating, but his power is only a little above average. He can probably develop more power as he matures, but his is generated because he’s a line drive hitter who makes consistent, solid contact.

      • BluBlud

        Vogelbach’s power is could be a 80, but it’s not rating that way.

        His highest rating has to be his speed. The guy has 3 SB and has no CS. It means his speed must be 80. :)

  • Rich

    I dont think there is any chance Manea is there at 41..
    I am leaning…”leaning” that Cubs select Bryant….

    I think the Astros take Gray…

    but I know nothing..

  • Willrust

    Based upon the production the Cubs have gotten from veteran pitchers over the past half dozen years (Lilly, Dempster, Harden, Feldman, Maholm & Wood), perhaps it wouldn’t be a terrible thing to stock the lineup. Here is your obligatory Baseball America expected lineup for 2016?

    1. Almora – CF
    2. Soler – RF
    3. Bryant – 3B
    4. Baez – 2B
    5. Rizzo – 1B
    6. Castro – SS
    7. Shoulders – LF
    8. Castillo – C

  • cubmig

    “barrelability” lets see…….”barrel” is to bat as “ability” is to being able to square it up on a pitch.————-makes sense.

    (I wonder how many more descriptors like that scouts use among each other when reporting on a prospect? I envision the Moneyball scene where the scouts are pitching suggested names of players and attributes to replace Giambi, Damon and Isringhausen. What a world that must be….. )

  • Freshness21

    Seems to be a smart kid and not just a dummy with power:

    PERSONAL: Kristopher Bryant was born on January 4, 1992 in Las Vegas, Nev….he is the son of Mike and Susie Bryant…he was heavily recruited by LSU, Arizona State, UC Irvine, Stanford, Clemson, Auburn, USC and Vanderbilt…chose to attend USD because of the great baseball program, the beach and the wonderful weather in San Diego…notes that he graduated high school with a 4.78 GPA, and that he is really into cars, and likes to play golf.

  • LouBrown

    The more I hear, about Bryant, the more I like that combo: College hitters are the most likely to reach the bigs, and this one has 80 power. High probability, high return.

  • Chief

    Kris Bryant: Really friendly dude. Not as much of a butcher defensively as people think. The fear is that he’ll grow too big for third, not that he’s not defensively adequate.

    • Alex

      Just like Lake

  • Diamond Don

    Here’s my rank:

    1. Gray
    2. Bryant
    3. Appel

    Astros take Bryant, leaving Theo and Jed to choose between Gray and Appel. They take Gray!

  • Kyle

    Once pro pitching coaches get a hold of him and he’s throwing every fifth day, I suspect Gray’s fastball won’t maintain its 80 status.

    • JulioZuleta

      It’s good to know that he has it, though, and has hit triple digits on the radar gun even after hitting triple digit pitch counts. He can dial it back and sit comfortably 95-97, most likely.

      • Norm

        How many draftees that have thrown 100 MPH in their draft year have had long, productive careers?

        I’m thinking not many.

        • Luke

          How many draftees that were throwing 100 MPH on draft day were throwing fastball with late sink and not a dead-straight sitting duck?

          It’s going to be a small number in any of those categories. Not many guys reach triple digits.

          • Norm

            ok, then what percentage?
            I’d bet the players that throw 100 are more likely to bust or get injured than those that don’t.

            • JulioZuleta

              Injured? maybe. Bust? That makes no sense at all, barring injury. That being said, Gray is a large human being. It’s not like he’s generating his power for putting tremendous stress on his elbow and shoulder, like Lincecum and Chris Sale. He is built to sustain velocity.

          • JulioZuleta

            Yeah, the number of guys that consistently hit 100 is so small that trying to find anything meaningful out of their success rates is probably worthless. Nolan Ryan did alright.

    • hansman1982

      It depends on what kind of command and movement he has on it at 100+. If he still has decent command and movement, it should maintain it (80 rating since movement and command should increase) even dropping down to 95-98.

  • Dustin S

    Keith Law likes Bryant too, but says that he thinks he’ll end up as a .255-.260 hitter in the bigs, although 30+ HR power. I’d be completely fine with Bryant. The Valbuena/Ransom combo has overperformed, but they aren’t the long-term answer at third. In the end I’m just glad the Cubs pick #2 and are guaranteed to get one of the big 3 (barring them doing a complete curveball pick). Something to think about in the tank or not tank but don’t end up at .500 conversation.

    • Kygavin

      Law also said Bryant is most likely (but not definitely) a RF in the bigs

    • Kevin Gallo

      You are also talking about a guy who bases his reports on one or two games.

      • Kygavin

        Any evidence on this? He bases his opinions on what he has seen and also what other scouts have seen. He doesnt just see a guy once and make baseless claims

        • Kevin Gallo

          He wrote a scouting report on Bryant fielding and everything including field after seeing him but he was hurt with a sprained ankle and didn’t play the field at all. His scout buts are all upper level guys that don’t see him all time. The teams he as contacts are the Astros and BlueJays. The Blue Jays aren’t scouting him hard because will never get to him. The Astros aren’t going to tip their hand.

        • Luke

          Yes he does. K. Law even admits that he’ll make a judgement after as little as a single at bat, and then stick to that judgement unless he sees overwhelming evidence in the future.

          That’s not to discount Law as an analyst, but we can’t assume he’s making a careful scrutiny of everyone he comments on.

          • JulioZuleta

            It’s his downfall for me. Not only will he make a judgment after 1 AB (which like you said, he has admitted), but then he stubbornly sticks to that until 1. a guy who he said looked great is out of the league and bagging groceries or 2. a guy who he said looked awful is getting inducted into Cooperstown.

  • terencemann

    Some day I’d love to hear about Anthony Giansanti’s 4 appearances as a relief pitcher in 2011. I assume it was some kind of blow-out related decision.

  • Kevin Gallo

    I have seen Bryant more then most scout (7 times this season)outside of a few that I can’t mention. He can handle 3B and the only he hits 255 is if he goes into the majors right now.

    • Dynastyin2017

      Kevin, has Bryant risen to the level of Appel/Gray or is he still considered in the next group?

      • Kevin Gallo

        I have seen all 3 of them. I would say he is in the same group. My ranking goes 1)Gray 2)Bryant 3) Appel if that helps you.

        • Dynastyin2017

          Yes, but ironically, I’d list them in the exact opposite order. I’m not a scout, have never seen any of them play, but from what I’ve read, Appel has the highest floor. That means a lot to this FO.

          • Kevin Gallo

            I see Gray’s floor as a better version of the Ranger’s Ogando. Appel floor is Cahill.

            • X The Cubs Fan

              Appels floor is probably Travis Wood

  • Kevin Gallo

    Kris Bryant hit his 29th HR tonight.

    • Dynastyin2017

      Okay Kevin, I’m going to put you on the spot…..on a scale of 1-10, Ryan Braun is a 9 and Kris Bryant is a ????

      • X The Cubs Fan

        I say 8.5

      • Kevin Gallo

        7.5 to 8

  • SenorGato

    Appel or bust. If the Astros take him then Bryant is definitely in the conversation for 2 so long as they think he can play 3B through at least his pre-FA years.

  • Die hard

    There are no free agents over next 5 yrs who are young and have Bryant’s power

    • Cubbie Blues

      Thank you Amazing Kreskin.

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