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carlos rodonWe 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.
  • dwest9cubs

    Im hoping for Tyler Kolek in a “If he’s there and they don’t take him, I’m finding Theo and yelling at him” kind of way. Dude throws 102. We don’t have that kind of arm in the system, minus Arodys.

    • ruby2626

      Takes a lot more than just throwing 100 to warrant a top 5 pick. Remember Kyle Farnsworth, what’s he on his 10th team this year?

      • ssckelley

        Somewhere down in New Orleans Henry Rodríguez sends his regards.

  • Spriggs

    I just hope they draft someone who then magically – after they draft him – starts throwing harder and pitching better than ever before in his life.

    • abe

      Thats not magic. It is called steroids..

      • ssckelley

        So is that what the Cardinals are doing?

    • ssckelley

      Come on now, you know this only happens for the Cardinals.

  • Ivy Walls

    Cubs will and need to begin identifying three things: A) LHP’ing talent at or near the top. B) LH hitting talent and C) players who can be developed by a system that starts to produce developed MLB average talent into superior talent.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Did not take long for this instant replay system to turn into a fiasco. Baseball worked fine for 150 years. Put it back please.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      This has what, exactly, to do with the upcoming draft?

    • mjhurdle

      How exactly is it a ‘fiasco’?

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Proving that the umpires get calls wrong.

        Almost as bad as refusing to eat Twix.

        • mjhurdle

          Upon challenge by mjhurdle, the umpires took a second look at Hansman’s post and reversed the call!

          It now stands as “Almost as bad as refusing to eat Almond Joys”, and mjhurdle retains his right to challenge.

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            That’s not a reviewable comment.

            • mjhurdle

              you will need to take that up with the league offices.

              For now i am just going to sit back and enjoy the walk-off Almond Joy.

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                Yes…walk off to the bathroom to hurl that garbage back up.

            • blublud

              Handyman, we agree this time. Twix is without a doubt the best in the game. With the ability to produce 100 WAR a season, and the next closest sitting around 10 WAR, there is no way to dispute the greatness that is Twix, even if WAR is flawed.

              Almond Joy is something compatible to Tony Campana. Good maybe for the moment, but it doesn’t leave you desiring more.

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                Wait..if Almond Joy = Campana…why aren’t you eating one every second of the day?

                • blublud

                  That comment accomplished exactly what I was aiming for.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      I’ve actually liked replay for the most part so far.

      The one exception to this is the new ridiculous interpretation of the transfer rule. Absolutely ridiculous

      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/baseballs-new-strategy-drop-the-ball-on-purpose/

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Might be a record setting year for unassisted triple plays.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          I proposed the following situation earlier on twitter

          An outfielder catches a routine fly ball for the third out of an inning. He never transfers the ball to his bare hand, and while jogging in, he decides to flip the ball from his glove to a fan in the stands. According to the new interpretation of the transfer rule, that would not be a catch, making the ball out of play and allowing potential base runners to receive an extra base.

          • ncsujuri

            No you didn’t, that’s WAY more than 140 characters…

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              Make it even more impressive, huh?

    • Darth Ivy

      The Yankees won last night (and nova properly got his W) bc they accurately overturned a call at first that let a run score. Replay isn’t perfect, but its improving the game by bringing about more accurate and proper outcomes.

  • Jon

    “Baseball worked fine for 150 years”

    It did?

    • Edwin

      The 1860’s was a great time for baseball.

      • DarthHater

        1865 October – The Milwaukee Cream Citys team is formed.
        1866 – The Fort Wayne Kekiongas team is reformed after the end of the Civil War.
        1866–1868 – The Rockford Forest Citys feature future superstars Albert Spalding and Ross Barnes.

        • Darth Ivy

          Seems like just yesterday

  • CubChymyst

    Out of the top pitchers who has the best command? I think that I saw it was the Young Lefty Aiken. If so I’d like to see the cubs grab him.

    • Boogens

      Yeah, Aiken is intriguing. The Marlins are drafting second and have been known to draft HS pitchers… suppose Rondon goes 1st to the Astos, who will the Marlins grab, Kolek or Aiken? What do we think the Sox will do at #3 in that scenario?

  • Idaho Razorback

    Back to the draft conversation……………I think teams should be able to trade their picks.

  • Jon

    I read a funny bit the other day that Ruban Amaro and his contingent went to scout Kolek.

    A sign that your GM is clueless? Wasting time and resources on a player that you have 0% chance of acquiring in the draft.

    • JCubs79

      Yeah! It’s not like building up a track record on a guy while he is young is even worth anything! It’s not like he could potentially be available in trades in the future or even be available in free agency at some point! You know what, they should probably just fire all of their scouts, get a wheel of fortune wheel, place a bunch of names on it and spin it!

      • Jon

        You maybe could give him the benefit of the doubt, if not for the fact is Ruban Amaro.

        Free agency? You are scouting a guy now for when he maybe is a free agent eight years from now?

  • ncsujuri

    I want Rodon to the Cubs soooooo badly it’s ridiculous…and even though I’m a NC State grad and know how bad we need him to go deep into games I’ve thought both last year and this that Avent has put his future in jeopardy at times, though in his defense Carlos is the kinda kid that refuses to come out of games.

    • Darth Ivy

      It’s fine if that’s who you are. there’s nothing wrong with that.

  • Jon

    I think it’s a slippery slope Keith Law is taking here. NC State’s coach is trying to win ball games. Yes his success is tied into this, but also success of the team is good for other players, and good for the University.

    It’s easy to say coach should put Rodon’s future career over winning games, if you are Rodon, his agent, or the team drafting him, but what about the rest of Rodon’s teammates? Only protect the players that are important/extremely talented? Where do you draw the line? If you aren’t careful where you draw it then college baseball really isn’t college baseball, just another auxiliary farm system for MLB teams.

    • ruby2626

      We’ll never know but some people think Kerry Wood’s arm problems stemmed from incredible overuse by his extremely selfish H.S. coach.

      • Jon

        I thought it was from his “slurve” ?

        In one of those links it talks about Hoffman and his “slurve” and I immediately cringed.

      • Mike F

        To be fair, there were a lot of things. First his mechanics were always bad, he threw violently across his body. It is a mechanical flaw that doesn’t help the elbow or arm. Second, his high school coach was an idiot. He overused him and let him throw back to back, cringe hell spasm. Finally, he threw curve balls way too young, before his skeleton muscular system was ready and add it all up, it leads to arm trouble. Pryor on the other hand had great mechanics. The whispers were always overuse, sissy stuff and steroids. Both had great arms though…..

  • Truely Blue

    This comment is a wee bit off the current subject but it is a very important part of the makeup of an athlete in any sport. How well they respond to adversity. Yesterday I commented on Jackson’s (IMO) inability to respond well in stressful or adverse situations. John Arguello has an interesting piece in “Cubs Den” on Jackson’s “pitchability” which in his opinion is not very good. Sorry, I don’t know how to give you a link.
    I think this is where sabermetrics can’t give you a lot of info. This is where a scout can only give his best guess of a prospect’s mental makeup. Good luck!

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      “I think this is where sabermetrics can’t give you a lot of info. This is where a scout can only give his best guess of a prospect’s mental makeup. Good luck!”

      Those in the sabermetric community have never claimed that.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I was looking at the TV listings on Comcast for the South Bend area and the bulls game is listed for CSN and WGN is running normal programing. I looked at the cubs 2014 broadcast schedule and it says that CSN is airing the game. I’ll be kind of pissed if there is no broadcast. Anybody know what the deal is.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Probably CSN+

  • Ed
    • DarthHater

      Thanks. Do you also, by chance, have a link to an article that answers the question: Does Edwin Jackson actually suck? :-P

  • JakeMac

    Anyone else been intrigued by Bradley Zimmer? Probably more of a mid-first rounder as of now, but he’s raking in the WCC, left-handed, etc. Like the idea of a 5-tool athlete in the first round this year.

    • ssckelley

      I am but he has a long ways to go to be considered as a top 5 picks. But Zimmer could end up being the top collegiate bat taken in the draft as Turner has been slipping.

  • ssckelley

    I feel obligated to post my typical pining for Alex Jackson now. The top position player in the draft with big time power potential. Grab pitching in the 2nd round.

    Although Rodon slipping to #4 is intriguing and if this happens Jackson might be gone anyway.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      Mmm…a lineup that features 100 HR from the outfield, 100 from the infield and a catcher that isn’t a black hole…

    • NorthSideIrish

      Jackson scares me the more I read about him. It’s doubtful he stays at catcher and I’ve seen multiple people questioning his weight. Big League Futures has started listing him as a C/1B because of concerns he could outgrow the OF. That bat is definitely special, but he’s got too many questions for my liking at 1.4.

      • ssckelley

        First I have heard of weight being an issue with him. Do you have any links that discusses that being an issue? I have read that he is a very good athlete and could be a good defender in the outfield with his strong arm.

        They say he might be moved off catcher to advance his bat through the system quicker. After all, we would hate for him to get hung up in the minors so he can learn how to frame pitches perfectly. There is a chance Edwin Jackson could still be on the team when he is MLB ready.

        • NorthSideIrish

          I’ll try to find you the exact links when when I get a minute, but I know Law said he thinks Jackson’s going to be too big to catch and one of the Minor League Ball guys talked about him filling out to 240+ pounds. He’s already 220 lbs and still filling out. His arm is definitely good enough to play RF, but I’m think range could be the bigger question. Bat will play anywhere.

          Don’t get me wrong, he’s got a great bat and will almost certainly be in the top 6 or 8 picks, but I’m really hoping for a pitcher at 1.4.

          • ssckelley

            Here is the most recent picture I could find, March 21st.

            [img]http://media.utsandiego.com/img/photos/2013/06/01/hpbaseball331549x005_r620x349.jpg?75d51d0aea2efce5189afce216053cbc530c46a8[/img]

          • ssckelley

            Kevin Gallo’s scout report was on Cubs Den last October:

            http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2013/10/cubs-notes-mlb-draft-scouting-info-on-alex-jackson-and-suk-min-yoon-status-on-mike-olt/

            I found this interesting:

            “Body: Has a stocky muscular frame with a board chest, shoulders and thick very strong legs. His body is already pretty much matured not much room to grow.”

            Listed him with a little above average speed, so range in a corner outfield position should not be an issue. Obviously if his range is hurt a little his bat should make up the difference.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    The problem with Kolek is that you have to be sure that he intends to sign out of high school. He may decide to go to college for a year or two. I forgot which team it was that picked Appel in his Junior year and he didn’t sign. We can’t afford to waste this pick under any circumstances.

    • Jon

      You get the pick back(one slot lower) the following year, so it necessarily isn’t wasted.

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        Didn’t know that, but it would be a year of developement wasted.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      I’m not worried at all about his signability thanks to the new CBA. A high school pitcher and a college junior failing to sign are completely different. Appel only had 1 year between drafts, and had 7 spots to improve. Kolek will have 3 years between drafts (he’s committed to TCU), and would have only 3 spots to improve if the Cubs took him. With how easy it is for a pitcher to blow his arm out, that would be some kind of risk to take.

      • Lou Brown

        Yeah, three years is a long time to roll the dice to only gain at most three spots in the draft position. I think any of the high schoolers taken at four would sign. A junior might risk it for a year, but I don’t think anyone would risk it for three. Especially given pitcher’s injury histories.

  • Argonzo

    That Hayden Simpson pick was so unfortunate in how it worked out. Be nice to have a workable piece in that spot now.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Hindsight is a dangerous game, but just for fun, players who were taking in the 1st and comp rounds of the 2010 draft, after Simpson.

      Mike Foltynewicz, Christian Yelich, Jesse Biddle, Zach Lee, Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Taijuan Walker, Nick Castellanos, Mike Olt

    • ssckelley

      The Rangers made up for that Simpson pick, hopefully he is in the lineup playing 3rd base tomorrow.

  • Dustin S

    Theo and company have to disguise their intentions, but I think they’ll be locked in on the best available pitcher this time around. Usually I’m all for best available overall, but it would be really tough to see them going position player again. The top of the draft being pitcher-heavy just makes it more of a lock. It will be fun to see how it shakes out. Following the draft and the Bryant pick might have been the top highlight of last season.

  • NorthSideIrish

    I think Beede and Kolek are the most likely picks for the Cubs. I think Rodon probably goes 1.1 and then Aiken to the Marlins. No chance Rodon would get by the White Sox. I think the Sox will be looking SP too, so it could be that the Cubs take whoever is left out of the Beede/Kolek after the Sox pick.

    My preference is actually Hoffman (most athletic of the college arms and probably most projection left), but I actually think it’s doubtful the Cubs draft him.

    • jp3

      I’m stating the obvious here and I know Hoffman has bigtime stuff NorthSide but how can we draft someone that has problems getting college kids out? His “stuff” I keep hearing about just makes me think of football prospects that go to the combine and run 4.35 40times but can’t play a hint of football. I respect your knowledge and just was curious why you think it just hasn’t really translated at the college level to this point.

      • NorthSideIrish

        The thing about Hoffman for me is the footage and reports from the Cape league last summer. He was absolutely dominant and came into the year with a chance to pass Rodon for 1.1. He absolutely has not shown the same stuff this season, but he’s still got that dominant stuff in there. He’s kind of tall and lanky, so it’s easy for his mechanics to get a little out of whack. But if he gets into the minor league system and they tighten the mechanics back up, then he could get back to the stuff he showed last summer.

        I just feel like Hoffman has a chance to still improve more than the other two college arms.

        • jp3

          Ah, thanks NorthSideirish. I was just curious why you were leaning that way, it does make sense in that he has a frame that has more projectability than the others though his stats this year haven’t reflected it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I’ve seen some reports linking Kolek to the Marlins already. If he is on the board when they pick, I suspect they’d take him over Aiken right now.

      • NorthSideIrish

        They are traditionally big on HS arms…wouldn’t surprise me at all if they went with Kolek.

  • jp3

    I’d like to see us steal Trea Turner in the 3rd round of the draft, I hear his stock is plummeting and that it’s not a lock he goes in the 1st 2 rounds anymore

    • Chad

      Is he a senior? If not I doubt he would sign in the 3rd round Probably go back to school

    • ssckelley

      I doubt he slips past the 1st round, he still plays a premium position where he might stick at shortstop. But he might require a pretty big signing bonus for a 3rd round pick so if he falls that far he might slip even further do to teams afraid they cannot sign him.

      • jp3

        C’mon ssckelley, you know who I’m fishing for here. Did I mention he reminds me a lot of Barney?

        • ssckelley

          Jeez, I gotta pay more attention to who I am replying.

      • Jon

        Wasn’t BluBud lecturing us on what a can’t miss phenom Turner was?

        • jp3

          Yeah;). What’s funny is its a small world and my buddy actually calls UNC games on a major cable carrier and he tells me the highest ceiling some of the experts that provide color for him say maybe Louis Castillo or Juan Pierre… That’s not that great of a ceiling for a number 4 pick

  • Ill see you at Sluggers.

    I don’t like the college arms as much this year as I did last year. Appel/Gray weren’t getting roughed up like Rodon & Beede have been. I know I know the defense behind them and the teams they play for and everything else, but I’d rather take one of the top prep players like Kolek, Aiken, or Alex Jackson this year. They seem like the safer picks to me.

    • SenorGato

      I’m down for Aiken, Jackson, or Beede. For some reason or another just not into Kolek. I do like the idea of Kolek with a splitter, but with all that room for injury would rather go with the more pro ready Beede.

      Beede needs some help but I think he has an elite arm with plus to plus plus pitches. Over thinks his mechanics but he has the potential to really pull off a power pitcher’s delivery. Only had one year under Johnson, and he consistently cites Johnson as a reason he chose Vanderbilt.

      Beede and Aiken are the only pitchers I really really really really like. Rodon’s slider should get him to the majors.

      • SenorGato

        Meant to say that Rodon’s slider should get him to the majors barring injury, but no way should they use the 4 pick on a slider.

  • diamonddon

    I wish MLB would allow trading of draft picks similar to what is done in the NFL. Theo and Jed could load up on 1st and 2nd round picks at the trading deadline. Do you think Selig could ever propose this? It would make more sense than the winner of All Star game getting home field advantage in the World Series, which makes absolutely zero sense!

  • Fastball

    I take Aiken. I’m fine with throwing a kid well over 100 pitches if he is deep in a game ya gotta have. But 134 is about 24 over the limit. I don’t believe his going that long is that bad once or twice. Fertile and the like would throw that many and still have 30 plus starts and never leave a game early. Sometimes pitchers breakdown because they were never built up. I don’t want Rodon but he may very well fall to 4. Take Aiken.

    • Fastball

      Fergie

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  • Fergusonthegoat

    Is there any hard evidence that pitch count is actually related to injuries? I think I read a piece on ESPN recently about how pitch count has much less to do with injury than mechanics…and it’s still a crap shoot if a pitcher gets injured or not given how much pressure they put on their arms.

    If he’s up for it, let him pitch. Never heard about pitch counts on Fergie or Maddux and they did just fine for the Cubbies.

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