Arms are at a serious premium in Chicago right now.
With starting pitching being priority #1 on the Cubs’ list right now, it puts a lot of pressure on the team to draft the right player considering their number 2 selection overall in the 2013 draft.
Although improvements have been made on the international market, like the signing of Juan Paniaugua and Gerardo Concepcion, the Cubs will almost certainly change gears from the draft in 2012 – OF Albert Almora was the Cubs’ first selection overall if you needed a refresher.
The starting rotation at the big league level right now looks scary at best. Matt Garza wasn’t great before getting hurt, Travis Wood still has a lot to prove, and Jeff Samardzija is largely untested as a regular starting pitcher. Taking a quality pitching prospect with their first selection makes the most sense for the Cubs as it helps bolster the potential “up and coming” pitchers like Trey McNutt, Dillon Maples and Arodys Vizcaino.
So it boils down to this: Who’s available and worth drafting?
The Stanford RHP has been at the tops of everyone’s radar since 2009 and has still yet to make a major league debut despite being drafted twice. Yes… he’s been drafted twice already. Maybe the fact that he’s a Scott Boras client and asking a pile of cash for his services after being drafted is scaring a lot of teams off, but he’s somewhat justified in his requests for a cash-in. Appel is a big man (6’5″ 215 lbs) with some serious power in his arm. His 4-seam easily hits the mid 90’s and occasionally flirts with the high 90’s, while his 2 seam has some serious tail which allows batters to take a sniff at the zone before it drops for either swinging strikes or called strikes. Big power and lots of control of his slider make him a top prospect who could hit triple digits with his heater should his development stay on track.
If Appel is so good, why wouldn’t Houston draft him first overall? The answer is price.
Houston may not be able to afford Appel considering he’s known for wanting big time cash right away. Could the Cubs make the leap and try to sign Appel knowing his tendencies to ask for outrageous sums of money? Who’s to say right now, but Theo and Jed tend to like players who mesh well with the team dynamic and Appel may not fit in to that category. It would certainly be an influence on their decision, one that leads me to believe they’ll consider other options before taking a stab at the loose cannon.
This University of Florida righty has already seen some success in his baseball career having thrown a no hitter vs Bethune-Cookman in the fist round of the 2012 NCAA tournament. Not too shabby eh? It gets better. Crawford boasts a low to mid 90’s fastball with some late sink. His slider is pretty solid and shows some big time potential to be a real weapon, thanks to his very high 3/4 style delivery. He’s packing a changeup and a curve as well, which never hurts if he can master the offspeed delivery style. While he’s never posted a WHIP over 2.00 in his career, command is emerging as a problem for the 21 year old. Could this scare the Cubs off? No, but there are much better prospects that will likely go top 5, whereas Crawford is more of a top 10 guy.
Finally, a lefty… and not just any lefty, a crafty one at that.
Check out these numbers: 1.22 ERA, 12.14 K/BB, 0.52 WHIP in 51.2 IP in 9 games. Drooling yet? Me too, but better grab a napkin or something before you look foolish. Manaea is young, extremely raw and 9 games isn’t much of a sample but the tools are there to make a quality pitcher. His fastball touches 96 at the best of times but has problems holding velocity as he works. His secondary pitches are still very much a work in progress, including a slider which is very effective when it’s on. After watching video on him, you can see his delivery is very relaxed, but his low 3/4 arm slot can make his pitches easy to read right out of his hands. Could the Cubs consider him? Of course, but he wouldn’t be impact talent anytime soon as his future is still very much up in the air.
Great first name, Ryne. You’d be loved by Cubs fans everywhere…
This righty out of Arkansas has already been drafted once in 2010, but is back having improved on his mechanics issues which have plagued him for some time. The 6’4″ 180 lbs lanky man is probably the most well rounded pitching prospect when considering price, talent, experience and mix. Stanek’s fastball caps off at 97 but hovers nicely in the low to mid 90’s with no velocity loss. He already has a curve and a slider that is very effective in the mid 80’s, not to mention a changeup which is in the finishing stages of development (it never hurts to have a 4 pitch guy who can really mix it up effectively). Stanek is a battle tested warrior who has now changed his delivery and is showing vast signs of improvement. A 1.19 WHIP and a 1.00 IP/K ratio make him a very adaptable player who could develop in to a big league 2-3 starter one day. He could be the Cubs’ selection should they pass on Appel.
The Loganville highschooler is a quality outifield prospect who can put a charge in to some balls from the dish.
You might be asking? Why an outfielder? I know I said that pitching is priority but the Cubs will indeed be looking at out fielders just in case. Frazier is pretty damned good too, so I tossed him in the mix.
Frazier is pretty much the complete package when it comes to an outfielder. His arm has been ranked from 50-65 by scouts, his speed is right up there allowing him to have leniency on his defensive paths to the ball, and his bat speed is through the roof. The kid can hit to all sides of the field and is projected to be a 20+ HR type of player one day.
There you have it folks. That’s the current short list of potentially draftable players for the Cubs this year. Feel free to add any you feel I missed in the comment section below, or hit me up on twitter and lets chat about it.