Results tagged ‘ MLB Draft ’
Kris Bryant visits Wrigley Field shortly after the Cubs made him their top pick in 2013. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Major league scouting directors tend to be vague when asked about their draft strategies leading up to the big day in June. They generally offer some variation on the same theme.
“It is the simple answer of picking the best guy available,” said Jason McLeod, the Cubs’ senior vice president of player development and amateur scouting. “We’ve made no bones about trying to get as much pitching as we can. But in the last two drafts, we’ve taken position players with our first picks, because we felt Albert [Almora] and Kris [Bryant] were the most impactful guys for us at those draft positions.”
The 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft will take place next week, from June 5-7. Though McLeod and his staff have consistently gone after the best available players with their top picks—regardless of need—they have shown a few common tendencies that might inform their decisions this year.
Since 2011, the year before the current front office took over, the Cubs have trended toward college selections. That year, 40 percent of the players the team picked came out of college. Last year, 55 percent of draftees played college ball. Meanwhile, the percentage of high school players drafted has decreased from 42 percent in 2011 to 27.5 percent in 2013.
Second, right-handed pitchers have dominated the draft board. Nearly 40 percent of the players selected by the Cubs in each of the last three drafts were righties. Under the Epstein/Hoyer regime, the Cubs have picked 38 right-handed arms, 20 of them from college and seven from junior college.
But the Cubs’ right-hander-heavy drafts may be less a function of preference than of consistent depth at the position. And this year is no exception. According to Baseball America, there are 19 right-handed pitchers among the top 50 draft-eligible players for 2014.
McLeod also added that pitchers in general are easier to project.
“You walk into a ballpark and see someone with fairly clean mechanics who’s throwing 90-94, and you’re pretty comfortable recommending him,” McLeod said. “Hitters, especially high school hitters, take more investment. You have to see them on multiple occasions and in the right circumstances before you can say that, yes, you think this guy will hit at the next level.”
Of course, drafting players is only half the battle. Signing them takes just as much work. A year ago, the Cubs signed just 60 percent of their draft picks. The prior season, the team had better luck, inking 81 percent of players selected.
The good news is the organization has gotten better at signing premium talent. In 2011, 17 of the club’s first 20 picks signed, followed by 18 of 20 in 2012 and 19 of 20 last year. Plus, the Cubs signed every one of their top 10 draftees in 2013—a crop that includes hot prospects Bryant, Tyler Skulina and Jacob Hannemann.
The team has also shown a knack for getting quick returns on draft investments. Seven of the organization’s top 20 prospects, according to MLB.com, were selected in 2012 or 2013.
“The last few drafts have had a few no-doubt guys,” McLeod said in late April. “This year, the draft is deep, but we’re still waiting on players to step to the forefront. We’re pretty wide open in terms of who we’re looking at for that top pick.”
History and the current talent pool may suggest the Cubs will take a right-hander with their top pick. But the only certainty is McLeod’s assertion that the front office will select the best players available when they are on the clock.
The Cubs finalized deals with two of their selections from the 2013 First-Year Player Draft Thursday morning, signing outfielder Jacob Hannemann and right-hander David Garner.
Hannemann, the team’s third-round pick out of Brigham Young University, was the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year this season. The 22-year-old, who spent two years on a Mormon mission before returning to school, hit .344/.415/.553 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with five homers, 16 doubles, seven triples and 29 RBI. He also stole 14 bases in 15 attempts.
Garner, a seventh-round pick from Michigan State University, struck out 70 batters in 83.1 innings in his junior season. The 20-year-old went 4-5 with a 4.10 ERA. He spent last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he posted a 3.12 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 43.1 innings and made the All-Star team.
The Cubs have now signed 11 of the 40 players they drafted.
The Chicago Cubs tonight selected right-handed hitting third baseman Kris Bryant out of the University of San Diego with the second overall pick in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Bryant was recommended by area scout Alex Lontayo.
“Kris had an incredible season at San Diego, hitting for both power and average,” said Jason McLeod, Cubs vice president of scouting and player development. “He is a big, strong, athletic player, and we feel he has the attributes of someone who could fit into the middle of a lineup at the major league level. He has the ability to hit for average along with power to all parts of the park.”
Bryant, 20, hit .329 (75-for-228) with 80 runs scored, 13 doubles, three triples, 31 home runs and 62 RBI in 62 games for the Toreros this season, his junior year. His 31 home runs led the nation and are a USD single-season record. Bryant also led the nation in runs scored, walks (66) and slugging percentage (.820). His 54 career home runs in three years at USD are a school record.
Named a finalist for the 2013 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Bryant also led the Toreros in total bases (187), while striking out just 44 times in 302 plate appearances. In addition, Bryant was named the Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year to go along with All-Tournament Team honors at the West Coast Conference Championships. The Louisville Slugger National Player of the Year sported a .946 fielding percentage at third base (9 E/166 TC).
Baseball America listed Bryant as the top position prospect available in the draft, and the third-best overall. The publication ranks him as the top college power hitter available and third-best with regards to strike zone judgment.
In 2012, Bryant reached base safely in 53 of his 57 games and logged a .366 batting average (78-for-213). He led the team in RBI (57), home runs (14), runs scored (59), hits (79), walks (39), on-base percentage (.483) and slugging percentage (.671). Bryant earned All-Conference honors for the second-straight year, and was named to the WCC All-Academic Team after posting a 3.34 GPA. He was named WCC Co-Player and Co-Freshman of the Year in his first year at USD in 2011.
Originally from Las Vegas, Nev., Bryant graduated from Bonanza High School in Las Vegas. As a senior, he hit .489 with 22 home runs and 51 RBI en route to being named an AFLAC All-American. He was drafted by Toronto in the 18th round of the 2010 MLB June draft, but did not sign, electing to attend USD.
The 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft continues this evening with the second round, in which the Cubs have pick No. 41. The draft continues tomorrow with rounds three-through-10 and concludes Saturday with rounds 11-through-40.
The Houston Astros selected Stanford pitcher Mark Appel with the first overall pick.
Yesterday afternoon, the Cubs signed their top pick from MLB’s 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Cal outfielder Brett Jackson for a reported $972,000, pending a physical.
Jackson is a high-motor guy with a quick bat, strong hands and a near-major league ready body. He boasts plus speed and covers some serious ground in centerfield. He has good instincts, takes good routes to balls and owns a plus arm. His power is above-average, which means the left-handed hitter could
project anywhere from 12-18 homers a year.
With that, however, comes some swings and misses, as he led the Golden Bears this year in strikeouts, with 68. He makes good contact nonetheless and should hit for average.
In three seasons at Berkeley, Jackson batted .303 with 91 runs scored, 25 doubles, 11 triples, 12 home runs and 85 RBIs in 152 games.
In the July issue of Vine Line, both scouting director Tim Wilken and area scout John Bartsch chimed in on Jackson’s abilities. Neither are worried about the strikeouts and are fully confident that Jackson will be patrolling Wrigley Field’s outfield sooner, rather than later.
“We’re really thrilled we could acquire a player like Brett Jackson,” Wilken said. “He plays the game hard, and we think he has a chance to be a front-line centerfielder and everyday player,” he added. “He has an above-average throwing arm. He’s an athletic centerfielder, a plus runner and has a chance to have some power.”
Said Bartsch: “He’s a hard-nosed player who likes to get dirty and compete. He’s got a short compact stroke with stronq, quick hands. He’s got plus range in all directions, gets good reads off the bat and takes instinctive routes….He looks the part now. He still gets pull happy at the plate. He needs to recognize off-speed pitches better and use the whole field. But he has the tools to play.”
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