As with Kris Bryant before him, there are some bits to discuss on the Cubs’ second round pick – number 41 overall – Rob Zastryzny, a lefty starter out of Missouri. Unlike Bryant, Zastryzny wasn’t generally thought to be the Cubs’ pick going into the second round, and, although he didn’t have a ton of buzz last night, it’s not like the pick was a total stretch.
- As for his stats: Zastryzny posted a 3.38 ERA over 90.2 innings this season (I’m not even going to discuss his W/L record because it’s meaningless and deceiving). He struck out 82 while walking 24. He was Missouri’s Friday night starter, so the coaching staff clearly believed in his abilities.
- On the rankings side, although Jonathan Mayo didn’t have Zastryzny in his top 100 draft prospects, Baseball America pegged him at 76, Baseball Prospectus/Perfect Game had him at 81, and Keith Law had him at 58. With pick 74 set to begin the third round today, there’s no certainty that Zastryzny would still have been on the board for the Cubs at 75 today.
- Baseball America’s take on Zastryzny: “Zastrzyny effortlessly adds and subtracts from his fastball, usually sitting around 90 mph but capable of dropping down to 86 or elevating four-seamers up in the zone at 95. The 6-foot-3, 193-pounder can locate his fastball to either side of the plate and gets good angle, which helps it play up further. His most reliable secondary pitch is his changeup, which shows flashes of being a plus offering. His breaking ball is less consistent, as he will switch between a slider and curveball. Zastryzny throws strikes but will need to refine his command in pro ball.” Changing speed on your fastball is truly an impressive talent (“effortlessly,” even), though I’d question why you wouldn’t sit in the mid-90s if you were easily able to do it.
- MLB.com on Zastryzny: “The latest in a long line of talented Missouri pitchers, Zastryzny has a good feel for the craft of pitching. His fastball typically sits in the upper-80s, but Zastryzny has the ability to add and subtract velocity as necessary. His fastball velocity typically ranges from 86 mph to 94 mph. Zastryzny, a left-hander, uses his height – he’s listed at 6-foot-3 – to create a downhill angle for his fastball, which has late action. Zastryzny also throws a changeup and slider. He commands his whole arsenal well and all three of his pitches have the chance to be at least Major League-average offerings.”
- Speaking of which, I’ve now read in multiple places that Zastryzny was sitting in the mid-90s during the SEC Tournament (for example, Cubs.com), during which he was probably scouted heavily by the Cubs. And, lets be clear: a lefty that throws 94/95 with late sinking action is a first round talent, regardless of what the rankings say.
- Projecting where he’ll start out in the Cubs’ system – assuming he signs – and where he’ll rank is tricky. He doesn’t seem to be the same kind of obvious top ten talent that Pierce Johnson was when the Cubs took him around the same spot in the Draft last year, but the scouting reports sound like at least a top 20 guy in the Cubs’ system. He’s likely to get in just a little bit of work late in the year at rookie ball or possibly short season Boise. He’s already pitched a full collegiate season this year, so he’s not going to see a ton of time, even if he signs quickly. Next year will really be the tell on how advanced he is. Kane County seems like the baseline, with High-A Daytona a possibility to start the season.
- As far as signability, there doesn’t appear to be any concern. Zastryzny was picked slightly ahead of where he was ranked, and it’s fair to wonder whether the Cubs had already had discussions with the lefty about what it would take to sign. The slot value for his pick is about $1.36 million. If the Cubs could sign him for closer to $1 million (I’m just speculating here), and Bryant for close to $6 million, they would have saved $1 million to be used elsewhere in the Draft, despite not going cheap on either pick.
- Here’s a short highlight package/profile piece on Zastryzny from Mizzou: