The Chicago Cubs have addressed pitching needs through Day 2 of the First-Year Player MLB Draft on Friday. They selected a catcher, Kyle Schwarber, in the first round Thursday and in the third before picking seven pitchers. Despite having a top five farm system, the Cubs have little quality catching prospects and still need starting pitching.
Day two selections:
Round 3: C Mark Zagunis, Virginia Tech
Round 4: LHP Carson Sands, North Florida Christian High School
Round 5: LHP Justin Steele, George County (Mississippi) High School
Round 6: RHP Dylan Cease, Milton (Georgia) High School
Round 7: RHP James Norwood, St. Louis University
Round 8: LHP Tommy Thorpe, University of Oregon
Round 9: RHP James Farris, University of Arizona
Round 10: RHP Ryan Williams, East Carolina University
Both Schwarber and Zagunis are finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, presented to the top collegiate catcher. The third round selection was a three-year starter at Virgina Tech and started all 53 games for the Hokies.
He ranked in several ACC categories including, third in batting average (.388), fourth in slugging percentage (.495), and fifth in runs (141) in his junior season.
He also has shown versatility having played eight games in right field and one in center and left along with three as designated hitter. This year he led the Hokies in batting average (.330), runs scored (44), hits (69), second in slugging percentage (.426), RBIs (39), doubles (10), triples and home runs (two), total bases (89), walks (32), and stolen bases (16).
Sands, who was attending North Florida Christian High School in Tallahassee, Fla. won a gold medal with the 2012 18-and-under team. He has signed to play at Florida State, but like other young pitchers could forego college if the Cubs can pay them more after they saved money with their first two round picks.
Steele fractured his left wrist last September when sliding into home plate during a summer league game and had a screw inserted in. He was 5-1 with an 0.98 ERA and 92 strikeouts over 43 innings this season. The 6-foot-1, 180 pounder, also signed with Southern Mississippi.
Thrope went 11-4 with a 2.14 ERA in 16 starts, striking out 90 over 105 innings while walking 33 this season. He was the Ducks’ No. 1 starter.
Cease suffered an elbow injury – a partial UCL tear – this spring and elected not to have Tommy John surgery, but the injury caused him to drop in the draft. He was 11-1 with an 0.58 ERA his senior year.
Cease’s fastball was clocked at 91-95 mph, hitting 97 mph at times, according to MLB.com’s scouting report. At 6-foot 1-inch, 175 pounds, he generates velocity with his athleticism and arm speed.
Cease pitched in the Under Armour showcase in August at Wrigley Field, which showcases 36 of the best prep players in the country. He has committed to Vanderbilt.