The Family and I are taking a little weekend trip to visit some other family, which will probably not affect posting today or this weekend, but it could affect my availability for other stuff. Be advised, and all that.
- Not that the scouting of potential top draft picks wasn’t already heating up, but Keith Law says the Cubs’ “scouting director” – which could be VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod, or it could be Amateur Scouting Director Matt Dorey – was at high school righty Tyler Kolek’s start last night. We heard last week that the Cubs have been keeping an eye on Kolek, who is regarded as a potential top five pick by just about everyone. High school arms are such a risk at the top of the draft, but the fact is, many of the best pitchers in baseball were drafted and signed as high school pitchers. It’s the risk/upside debate that has raged for years. I like what I see from, and hear about, Kolek, but I’d be hard pressed to be disappointed if the Cubs declined to take him (or high school lefty Brady Aiken) with their top pick, if he’s still on the board at four.
- Now for the big one: Law also says that both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were in North Carolina last night to watch ECU righty Jeff Hoffman, in what turned out to be his best start of the year (he struck out 16 over 8 innings, allowing just three hits and one walk (no ER, 117 pitches)). There was a time earlier this year, that Hoffman looked as much as a lock for number two in the draft as NC State lefty Carlos Rodon looked like a lock for number one. As we see just about every year in the draft, those are no longer the case, and the Cubs seem very like to have a shot at Hoffman at number four if they want him. Given the big dogs that are scouting him, I’d say the possibility is at least on the table. Hoffman rose up the ranks with a great summer performance in the Cape Cod League last year, but his performances so far this year haven’t been quite as dominant. Until last night, anyway.
- Tommy Birch with a variety of updates, including Brett Jackson heading to the disabled list, and Javier Baez fielding grounders today and maybe hitting tomorrow. A chance for a return next week still looks possible. Birch’s piece also includes a lot on Logan Watkins, who is unfortunately getting lost in the shuffle a little bit.
- Arizona Phil offers an update on Pierce Johnson (in extended Spring Training because of a hamstring injury in Spring Training), who looked ready to go (to Phil) for the second start in a row. Apparently Johnson even touched 97mph at one point during the outing. Presumably, he’ll head to Tennessee as soon as this week, with Jake Arrieta heading to AAA Iowa for his next rehab start. In the same piece, Phil says Jorge Soler is taking live BP at this point (hamstring), but not running or fielding.
- Howard Megdal with a great piece on Anthony Rizzo, the person. He happens to be a good one.
- Derek Jeter really can’t imagine what it’s like for Cubs fans, or what it would be like to play for the Cubs (ESPN Chicago), with the lack of competitiveness and championships. How nice for him.
Picture of Tyler Kolek courtesy of BN’er Jim, who is snappy with the camera.