1,500 picks, three days, and countless hours of scanning the Internet trying to figure out who these guys are! But, after many cups of coffee and getting nearly cross-eyed from staring at my 24″ computer screen, the 2010 First-Year Player MLB Draft is finally over.
Now the $64,000 question; why would a member of Hawkstown care about the Draft? The answer; many of these guys could be making their way to Memorial Stadium in less than a month. So for those of you who want a break from the NCAA Conference realignment talk, here’s the rundown on the prospects and what they bring to the table (and hopefully to the Boise Hawks).
The Chicago Cubs have been an unconventional team in the past and after Monday night, they kept that reputation in tact. After most of the big names were off the board, the Cubs threw a “Bugs Bunny” like curve ball when they selected Southern Arkansas pitcher Hayden Simpson with the 16th overall pick. The 6’0″ Simpson, who was rated 191st in the prospect listings, accumulated a 35-2 mark and set a school record with 323 strikeouts. Simpson is know for his fastball, which generally hits around 95 mph and most scouts like how he maintains his velocity on his pitches.
Cubs Amateur and Professional Scouting Director Tom Wilken selected Simpson on the recommendation of area scout Jim Crawford. “I feel Hayden is a potential starter who has four average-to-plus pitches and is very athletic with a good feel for pitching,” said Wilken. Did anyone notice the key phrase in that quote? It has been his reputation since he started this job in 2005, so if anyone wonders why he took Simpson, there is your answer.
I hope Simpson turns out to be the real deal. It would be a great thing for the Cubs as well as the Hawks. My only reservation is that he comes from Division II and except for Andrew Cashner (and the book is still out on him), the Cubs have not found a ton of success with pitchers in the first round. The key with him, like many young arms who are not named Stephen Strasburg, is give him time to develop.
I could rundown each and every pick, but I won’t do that. I doubt I could hold anyone’s attention for that length of time. But here are a few guys to keep an eye on that could really make waves this summer:
Reggie Golden, CF, Wetumpka High School (AL)
Golden no doubt embodies the term “high risk, high reward”. Some scouts feel that he is the most complete five-tool player in this year’s Draft. He has great speed and raw power, but has a swing that is going to need a lot of work. The Cubs might have found a gem if they can influence him enough to not sign with Alabama University. With time and training, Golden could turn out to be one of the best positional players taken in this Draft.
Micah Gibbs, C, Louisiana State University
This year’s class was thin at the catcher position, but the Cubs landed a good one in Gibbs. He is arguably the best defensive catcher in the Draft and he has a little pop in his bat, but does he have enough to be an everyday catcher? If he can develop a consistent swing, he could a depth to a position that is very thin.
Bryan Harper, LHP, College of Southern Nevada
Yes, he is the older brother of the 2010 number one pick, Bryce Harper. Although he’s not as good with the bat as Bryce, he does have plenty of weapons in his arsenal on the mound. He is a 6’5″ lefty who can throw 92 mph and has a good breaking ball and changeup. He can be a bit erratic at times, but many 20 year old lefties who are 6’5″ tend to have that problem early on. Bottom line with Harper; he has plenty of room to grow and with time, he could develop into a solid relief pitcher.
The hope is that somewhere in this group, there is a consistent, everyday player who can help the Cubs compete. Truthfully, when you select 50 players in three days, you are bound to a lemon here or there. There is a lot of risk in this Draft class for the Cubs but if one or three of these guys pan out, it’s worth it. Wrigleyville is starving for a World Series Title and truthfully, the Cubs need to add some young talent to what is left of a solid, yet older, major league roster. Now more than ever, the Cubs need to gamble and see if it can pay off.
Till next time…
Media Relations Assistant
First off, thank you for everyone that read my first installment. My first blog was a bullpen session, so it’s time for me to take the mound and start diving into topics that you care about.
To kick off my second installment, I want to talk about the MLB First-Year Player Draft, which is less than 48 hours away. The Chicago Cubs, who are the parent-team for your Boise Hawks, are sitting at pick 16 and needless to say, have plenty of options. The question on everyone’s mind is who will they go with; a young arm or will they follow suit and take an athletic, five-tool player?
That question will be answered by Tim Wilken, the Cubs Amateur and Professional Scouting Director. Since Wilken took over in December of 2005, he has had a pretty solid track record at finding good talent early. Outfielders Tyler Colvin and Brett Jackson have both been impressive in the minors and Colvin has been a solid bat for the Cubs this season, hitting .293 with 5 HR and 13 RBI. Wilken also cashed in on pitcher Andrew Cashner, who flew through the minors to earn a spot in the Cubs bullpen this season. Third baseman Josh Vitters is the highest rated prospect to ever make to Boise in 2008 and he did not disappoint, hitting .328 with 5 HR and 37 RBI. Vitters’ 25 doubles were the second most in Hawks history and he was the only unanimous for the Northwest League All-Star team that season.
With all of that being said, Wilken has several interesting options at pick 16. Wilken’s track record has always been selecting the best, positional athlete on the board. But according to MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo, he predicts the Cubs will go with a young arm this year in Asher Wojciechowski from The Citadel. Wojciehowski has 6’4″ frame and is known for his fastball, which registers around 94 mph. The word from many scouts is that he has a good slider, but his change up has been a little suspect and it is not a strong as his other pitches.
My take on Wojciechowski is this; just about any team can use a 6’4″ fireballer in the bullpen who can spell the closer or be the closer. My only hang up is that given the profile, Wojciechowski sounds a lot like Cubs relief pitcher Jeff Samardzija. If I am WIlken (given the current layout of my team), I would be looking more for a solid starting pitcher, as opposed to a relief pitcher. Given what we know thus far on Wojciechowski, it sounds like he is more suited for the bullpen than the rotation.
If I were Wilken, I would take a long look at pitcher Karsten Whitson from Chipley High School in Florida. Whitson has a great fastball that registers around 91-96 mph and a slider that resembles Wojciechowski’s. Where the two pitchers differ is in their off-speed pitches. Whitson has a very nice change up that hits between 80-82 mph and has enough fade to where that pitch could be a “plus pitch” for his arsenal. Anytime you can find a 6’4″ guy like Whtison with this kind of profile, it’s hard to pass on him. The biggest plus is that he is straight out of high school, so he has not hit his full potential yet. With great tools and the ability to grow, Whitson would be a great choice if he is still there at 16.
If Wilken is dead set on a skill position player, then Justin O’Conner is a name that could generate a lot of buzz. O’Conner, a shortstop/catcher from Cowan High School in Indiana, has the make up that a lot of Wilken’s picks have had; he’s a powerful, patient hitter who has great, raw athleticism. The most intriguing thing about O’Conner is the fact that he doesn’t really have a position. He has shown a cannon for an arm (pitching up to speeds of 95 mph) and some people think he is best suited at the catcher position, rather than his current position of shortstop. The only drawback is that he is very green at the catcher spot, so if the Cubs put him in that role, they will have to give him several years to develop.
Regardless of who the Cubs decide to go with, they should benefit in some form or another. Most of the players highlighted have the athleticism the Cubs seek and hopefully they can add even more depth to a minor league system that is producing big league talent. But then again, the name Mark Prior still resonates with many in Wrigleyville.
Till next time..
Media Relations Assistant