The 2015 First Year Player Draft is just two weeks away, and there is still no clear picture emerging at the top. That means the lack of any kind of picture, clear or otherwise, for the Cubs at number nine is pretty much complete. If version 3.0 of the Baseball America Mock Draft is any indication, this might be the most unstable, unpredictable draft in a very long time.
To recap, Version 1.0 had the Cubs taking Vanderbilt right handed pitcher Carson Fulmer. In Version 2.0, Fulmer had jumped all the way to first overall and the Cubs took an intriguing outfielder who has been rocketing up the boards, Andrew Benintendi. In version 3.0 Fulmer almost falls to the Cubs again (he goes off the board to the White Sox at No. 8) and Benintendi, while available to the Cubs, slides to the Reds at No. 11. The Cubs, in this mock, flip back to pitching and take Jon Harris, a right handed pitcher from Missouri State.
Interestingly, Baseball America doesn’t discuss Harris at all in the blurb for the Cubs. They spend that spot discussing Benintendi and the difficulty teams are having working out his projection. Is that just a carry-over from last week’s mock draft? Is it an indication that the Cubs are considering Benintendi? Good question. And in two weeks we’ll have the answer.
One more point to demonstrate the extreme volatility of this draft class: let’s take a look at Number One. It has appeared fairly likely that Arizona wants a college starter with the first overall pick, and the best two college starers this season have been Dillon Tate and Carson Fulmer. Mock 3.0 has the Diamondbacks taking Illinois lefty Tyler Jay who typically pitches out of the bullpen. That’s right, the college pitcher who may well project as the best starter in this class is a reliever, and the two top current starters look somewhat likely to head to the pen. It is just that kind of a year for the draft.
And just to add to the chaos, after Arizona figures out which college pitcher is the one they want (if they don’t do something else altogether), the Houston Astros will pick second. The Astros have not had a smooth draft history in recent years, and they are probably as unpredictable as any team in baseball. The best player available for them will almost certainly be Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson (unless Arizona decides against taking a pitcher), but this front office has passed on the best player available for various reasons in the past. What the Astros do here is anyone’s guess
Scores From Friday
Iowa – Despite a seven run second inning, the Cubs had to score in the ninth to walk off this 10-9 win.
Tennessee – Another good start yielded this 4-1 win.
Myrtle Beach – The Pelicans took the lead in the third and held on for an 8-4 win.
South Bend – The Cubs survived a ninth inning rally to win 3-2.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] Rafael Lopez doubled and drove in a pair of runs, including the game winner, as he finished 2 for 5. Javier Baez also finished 2 for 5 with a double, but his other hit was his 3rd homer of the season.
- [Iowa] Christian Villanueva finished 4 for 5. Taylor Davis came within a hit of matching him.
- [Iowa] The only Iowa pitcher to not allow a hit in this game was Brian Schlitter. He struck out one while working the ninth.
- [Tennessee] Frank Batista struck out 7 and allowed just a walk and 2 hits over 6.1 innings in this game.
- [Tennessee] C.J. Edwards struck out 4 and walked 2 over 2 hitless innings. His ERA is now down to 2.91.
- [Tennessee] Not only did Kyle Schwarber catch Batista’s gem, he also walked twice and homered (his 10th).
- [Myrtle Beach] Duane Underwood allowed 2 runs on 2 homers over 6 innings, but not much else. He gave up a total of 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4.
- [Myrtle Beach] Victor Caratini and Daniel Lockhart both doubled and finished with 2 hits. Trey Martin also had 2 hits (but not a double).
- [South Bend] Ryan Williams allowed just 2 hits over 8 innings while striking out 3 for the Cubs. His ERA now sits at 0.59.
- [South Bend] Cael Brockmeyer doubled twice to finish 2 for 3. A Justin Marra homer (his 4th) was the other extra base hit for the Cubs.
Scores From Saturday
Iowa – The two teams combined to score eleven runs in the final three innings, but in the end Iowa was the 13-7 winner.
Tennessee – The Smokies wasted a great start as they lost 2-1.
Myrtle Beach – The Pelicans picked up another win, this time 7-3.
South Bend – The Cubs early lead did not last as they lost 6-3.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] Javier Baez, playing shortstop, had 3 hits and a walk in this game. Rubi Silva also had 3 hits, including his 2nd homer of the year.
- [Iowa] Taylor Davis doubled 2 more times and finished 2 for 5. Chris Valaika also had 2 hits.
- [Iowa] Dallas Beeler struck out 6 while allowing a run on 2 walks and 5 hits in this 6 inning start.
- [Tennessee] Corey Black was about as good as he has been in this one. Over 5 innings he struck out 6 and allowed just 1 hit. It was his first start off the disabled list, so the Cubs pulled him after just 57 pitches.
- [Tennessee] The Smokies did not mount much of an offense in this game. In fact, they managed just 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 17 times.
- [Myrtle Beach] Paul Blackburn struck out 5 and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits in his 6 innings of work.
- [Myrtle Beach] Jeimer Candelario homered twice, his first 2 of the season, and finished with a 3 hit day.
- [South Bend] Gioskar Amaya finished with 3 hits and his 4th steal of the season.
- [South Bend] Cael Brockmeyer doubled and finished 2 for 4. Yasiel Balaguert and Andrew Ely had 2 singles each.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa – Iowa took a first inning lead and went on to win the game 7-4.
Tennessee – The Smokies were shut out 4-0.
Myrtle Beach – The Pelicans were also shut out. Theirs was a 1-0 loss.
South Bend – The Cubs never trailed in this 6-2 win.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] Donn Roach recorded just one out before taking a grounder off the leg and having to leave the game. That pushed Blake Cooper into pitching 3.2 innings, and he turned in some good results. He allowed a run on 4 hits and a walk while striking out 2.
- [Iowa] Javier Baez, again at shortstop, is officially hot. He homered twice (and now has 5), walked once, and raised his OPS to .904. He has not struck out 3 times since May 7, and has struck out twice only two times in the past two weeks.
- [Iowa] Arismendy Alcantara also homered, his 6th.
- [Iowa] Christian Villanueva doubled and finished 4 for 5.
- [Tennessee] Kyle Schwarber finished 3 for 4. A 2 for 4 day from Billy McKinney was the only other multi-hit day for Tennessee.
- [Tennessee] Ivan Pineyro took a shutout into the 6th, but he left after 5.2 innings with 4 runs (3 earned) on 2 walks and 6 hits charged against him. He struck out 4.
- [Myrtle Beach] Tyler Skulina struck out 6 and allowed just one run on 4 hits and 2 walks.
- [Myrtle Beach] Jordan Hankins went 2 for 3.
- [South Bend] Gleyber Torres and Rashad Crawford both collected 2 singles in this one. Yasiel Balaguert singled and doubled.
- [South Bend] Gioskar Amaya was held hitless, but he did reach twice on walks and stole his 5th base.
- [South Bend] Jeremy Null struck out 4 while allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk over 6 innings.
- One big topic of conversation on draft day will be the slot dollar values for each pick and the probability of various players signing for less than slot. Given that this class is weaker at the top than we have seen in previous seasons while also featuring some depth in the pitching department, I would not be surprised to see a lot of under slot speculation at the top. Keep this Baseball America chart of the draft slot values handy and you’ll be in good shape to start making sense of the madness when it begins to play out.
- It is getting tough to ignore what Frank Batista has been doing in Tennessee. He is a veteran pitcher, true, but Southern League hitters are simply doing nothing against him. On Friday he sat down the first thirteen batters he faced, and in his previous start he pitched a seven inning shutout. Smokies pitching coach Storm Davis talked about Batista in this article, and his comments make for an interesting read. Is Batista successful because of his ability to locate his changeup and slider for strikes? Or because his (lack of) height and arm slot make it difficult for hitters to pick up the ball? Or because he recently added more movement to his changeup with a new grip? Or some combination of all of that? I have no idea. But I want to see if he can keep up this success at Triple A, and if he can I hope he gets a shot in Chicago by the end of the year. It is not common for a pitcher to move from the bullpen to the rotation and emerge as a legit pitching prospect at the age of twenty six, but I am starting to wonder if Batista is not one of those exceptions.
- It probably means nothing, but Baez has split his time in the field roughly evenly between second base and shortstop.