We are under two months away from the 2014 MLB Draft …
- I think you’d say N.C. State lefty Carlos Rodon is still the presumptive top overall pick, despite some hiccups in his performance and his fastball command this year. I do wonder if teams will be concerned to see things like him throwing 134 pitches on Friday. That, alone, would be enough to make you cringe for a young arm, but it also came on one day less rest than a college starter normally receives. Keith Law was pretty hard on the coach for that decision, as he is clearly putting his team’s interests (NC State is on the verge of missing the NCAA Tournament) over the health of a young star. I know team-first is a laudable concept, but not when it could come at the expense of a kid’s arm. We’ve discussed the possibility of Rodon slipping in the draft before, and the issue remains this: if Rodon does slip to the Cubs at four, they will have to be wary of the reasons he slipped in the first place.
- Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer reminds everyone just how fluid the run up to the MLB Draft can be, and how hard it is to say with any confidence which guys are “in” and which guys are “out” at this time of year at the top of the draft. (CSN)
- Hoyer adds a very thoughtful point about the Cubs’ second round pick (45 overall): “One of the biggest challenges with pitching is you think a guy won’t be there in the second round, but all of a sudden he has an arm injury or his velocity dips, and we might well be looking at him and we have to make an educated decision. That is a real challenge.” (Cubs.com) We saw that in 2012 when this front office was able to select Pierce Johnson 43rd overall, about 20 spots lower than he was expected to go before some late-season forearm issues popped up. It sounds like an easy steal, but you’ve got to know how much you like a guy, how much you suspect his health issue can be overcome, and how the guy stacks up against the group of guys you were expecting would be there at 45 all along (and probably had grown to like very much).
- In a very significant rankings shakeup over at Baseball America, the top two arms on the board are no longer of the college variety – they are high school lefty Brady Aiken and high school righty Tyler Kolek, in that order. Rodon comes third, with high school catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson fourth, and college righties Jeff Hoffman and Tyler Beede fifth and sixth, respectively.
- Also in that BA piece, you get the sense that the draft is particularly deep in fringe first round pitching talent, which could play very well for the Cubs, who would probably like to add a great arm with their second round pick. Perhaps one will slip.
- Among other top execs, Theo Epstein was recently in Houston to scout big high school righty Tyler Kolek in person.
- Mark Gonzales notes that Cubs Scouting Director Matt Dorey scouted Kolek last month, too.
- Over at Through the Fence Baseball, Dan Kirby takes a deep look at 20 possibilities for the Cubs in the first round, and the part that really pleases me: it’s not like there are three (and only three) clearly tip-top obvious guys for the first three picks, leaving the Cubs out in the cold at number four. That’s how it was last year (Appel-Bryant-Gray), and hopefully things won’t change by June. Kirby really likes high school lefty Brady Aiken, behind only Rodon, and then Vanderbilt righty Tyler Beede and high school catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson to round out his top four. You’ll note that top four doesn’t even include stud high school righty Tyler Kolek, who comes in at number five, or previously-consensus top two arm Jeff Hoffman, who comes in at number six. As I said: the Cubs should be sitting pretty at number four, regardless of what happens in the top three.
- Putting it another way: with this many great options available to the Cubs at number four, I’m going to feel pretty good about whomever the Cubs take, because I trust the scouting team implicitly, and because they won’t be forced to settle.