Last night’s opening rounds of the MLB Draft were exciting as the Cubs drafted Kris Bryant in the first round (more about him here) and Rob Zastryzny in the second round (more about him here) (and more about them both here), but that was just the tip of the drafting iceberg.
Today, the second day of the 2013 MLB Draft gets underway at 12pm CT, and will feature rounds 3 through 10, the end of the bonus pool rounds. (And, if that sentence makes no sense to you, see this Draft primer.) You can follow along online at MLB.com, which will be streaming the picks, or you can follow along here, as I’ll be updating the Cubs’ picks live.
Last year, the Cubs went pitching heavy on Day Two, and I tentatively expect the same today – although there are some intriguing high school prospects (including positional guys) who slipped out of the first two rounds. If the Cubs are feeling aggressive and overslot-y, they might be able to pounce right away.
Throughout today’s action, I reckon there will be a steady stream of salient thoughts dropped in the comments, on the Message Board, on Twitter (don’t forget to follow Luke as well), and on Facebook. So join in, wherever your preference for chatting might lie.
And away we go with the Cubs’ picks …
3rd Round: OF Jacob Hannemann, BYU. – A college outfielder is definitely not what you’d be expecting the Cubs to take here at the top of the third round, but this front office is sneaky and surprising. Hannemann was not a top 100 type player, and Baseball America had him all the way down at 214. It sounds like he was not expected to go until the 4th/5th round range. He’s technically just a freshman, despite being 22, because he just got back from a Mormon mission. He’s in school on a football scholarship, which makes you wonder if he might actually be a tough sign, even if he wasn’t projected to go this high. This is a surprise. He’s clearly a great athlete, and he was the Freshman of the Year in the WCC this year, so it’s not like he can’t play ball. The front office said they spent a ton of time on picks two and three in the Draft, so it’s fair to say that they got the guys they wanted in Hannemann and Zastryzny.
Keith Law suggests/speculates on Twitter that the Cubs had to take a couple underslot guys in the second and third rounds to save money to sign Bryant, which I find very hard to believe. Bryant was picked second overall, following an historic college season. In what way would he possibly have leverage to command more than $6.7 million (hell, more than $6 million) when the next slot was a million lower, and there is absolutely no way he’d risk going back to school when he was drafted second by a team willing to give him $6+ million? Don’t just say “Boras” to me, because that’s lazy. We’ll see, but I think Law is mistaken here. Or maybe I’m just hoping he is.
4th Round: RHP Tyler Skulina, Kent State. – A junior righty who transferred from Virginia, Skulina has some upside. A college arm is more what I was expecting from the Cubs in this range in the draft. Here’s what MLB.com says on Skulina: “Skulina played a key role in Kent State’s Cinderella run to the 2012 College World Series and has taken on an even bigger role this spring as the Golden Flashes ace. He relies on his fastball-curveball combination to attack hitters and isn’t afraid to challenge them. Skulina’s fastball sits in the low-90s and runs in on right-handers. His curveball has good break and should be a Major League average offering. He uses his 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame to create a good downhill plane for both pitches. Skulina needs to develop his changeup to reach his potential.” Baseball America actually had Skulina as the 73rd best prospect in the Draft. He struck out 102 batters in 93.2 innings of work this year.
5th Round: RHP Trey Masek, Texas Tech. – An interesting pick here, because Masek has the talent to be a top two round guy. But he’s had some shoulder issues, and there’s some concern about his durability, so he slid. MLB.com, which ranked Masek 67th overall, has this to say: “Masek had a very strong summer in the Cape Cod League and it was carrying over as Texas Tech’s Saturday starter, though some arm soreness in late March kept him out of action for a spell. Assuming health, the slightly undersized right-hander will show three pretty good pitches. He can run his fastball up to 94 mph, throws a solid curveball and has a good feel for a sinking changeup. His funky delivery adds deception to his stuff, though his command can be inconsistent. He gets high marks for his aggressiveness and poise on the mound. That, plus Masek’s size and injury history, have some thinking his future might be in a big league bullpen.” This is a legit pitching prospect, as exciting as Skulina or Zastrysny. Keith Law ranked him 89th, BP/Perfect Game had him 79th, and BA had him 49th.
I’m starting to wonder whether the Cubs’ strategy was to work very hard on picks two and three to find guys that (1) they liked very much, and (2) they could sign under slot. Taking that approach, the Cubs get guys they like who are borderline second/third round talents, but save money in a way that allows them to take legit talent in rounds five through ten, when every other team is just taking money-saving seniors. We’ll see how it plays out.
6th Round: RHP Scott Frazier, Pepperdine. – Yet another college player for the Cubs, they grab Pepperdine’s Friday starter (a junior). MLB.com says: “”The big right-hander served as Pepperdine’s Saturday starter in 2012, then moved into the Friday slot as a junior, continuing to show the big arm that has always intrigued scouts. His fastball sits in the 91-94 mph range, and he backs it up with a curve and changeup. He’s shown gradual improvement over time with the Waves and while his results as a junior have been up and down, he’s the kind of college arm that could sneak into the back end of the first round. After his sophomore season, Frazier pitched in the Cape Cod League to cap off 2012. Even with his uneven performances, his size and arm strength were still getting a lot of interest as the Draft approached.” Baseball America ranked him 160th, but MLB.com had him at 77th. Keith Law had him 79th. Seems like he was a potential top two round talent once again, but who fell after a rough season. This is not a “cheap” pick at all.
7th Round: RHP David Garner, Michigan State. – Another college pitcher. I love it. And it’s another legit talent (a junior), although he’s a smaller guy who may wind up in the pen. MLB.com: “At 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, David Garner’s size doesn’t intimidate hitters. However, his slight frame is not an indication of the power the right-hander possesses. Garner owns a fastball that can touch 95 mph, while his hard-breaking slider is his primary out-pitch. He has a free delivery and aggressive approach, and his electric stuff has led to 192 strikeouts in 217 2/3 innings pitched for Michigan State during his three years in East Lansing. At times, Garner can lose his control, as he walked 27 batters this year, while also hitting six and throwing 10 wild pitches. In his first two seasons at Michigan State, Garner was in and out of the rotation, but he made all 14 appearances as a starter during his junior year. He went 4-5 with a 4.10 ERA, lifting his career numbers to 15-12 and 3.97, respectively. Garner stood out in the Cape Cod League each of the past two summers, especially in 2012, when he was named to the West Division All-Star Team. In 43 1/3 innings for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, Garner registered 41 strikeouts and a 3.12 ERA, both of which were good for top 20 in the league. Before becoming a Spartan, Garner was drafted by the Reds in the 33rd round (No. 997 overall) of the 2010 Draft.” Garner was ranked 248 to Baseball America.
8th Round: LHP Sam Wilson, Lamar Community College. – College pitcher? Yes. College pitcher. He actually plays both ways, but folks see his future on the mound because he’s got decent velocity. A bit from MLB.com: “Wilson was drafted by the Rangers in the 20th round in 2010, but he chose to attend New Mexico. He was a two-way player as a freshman, but academic issues forced him to redshirt last season and he ultimately transferred to Lamar Community College this year. Wilson has continued as a two-way player for the Runnin’ Lopes, but his professional future is on the mound. He throws his fastball around 90 mph and he has touched 94 mph in the past. He also throws a curveball and a changeup, both of which have the potential to be Major League-average offerings. Wilson is athletic, has good size (he’s listed at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds) and repeats his delivery well.” He’s number 358 to Baseball America, and isn’t an obvious under slot type.
Although I applaud the Cubs’ strategy – taking value picks here in the later rounds because there are great talents available that other teams are passing on – I wouldn’t be surprised to see the next couple picks being college seniors.
9th Round: OF Charcer Burks, William B. Travis HS (TX). – Finally, a high school player. Burks is an athletic outfielder, but was not generally regarded as a top draft prospect. Although he’s not a college senior, I wonder if he’s a guy the Cubs have already lined up to sign to an under slot deal.
10th Round: RHP Zach Godley, Tennessee. – Another college pitcher, though this one is a senior. Godley put up decent numbers as a starter in a major conference, so he can probably play a bit (he just squeaked into BA’s top 500 at 487). But, this is very likely one of your standard senior signing picks to try and save a little pool money.
And Day Two of the Draft is at a close for the Chicago Cubs. We’ll have more on today’s picks in the coming days – and more live coverage of the Draft tomorrow – but the early reaction is definitely positive. It’ll be interesting to see how the money works out, and my largely-unknowledgeable take is that the Cubs are going to have to save some money on Bryant/Zastryzny/Hannemann at the top of the Draft in order to pay for some big-time over slot types tomorrow.