Doesn't take a baseball expert to figure out what the Cubs thought they needed in last year's amateur draft—pitching.
After taking outfielder Albert Almora with the sixth overall pick, Chicago used their next seven selections on pitchers, including four high school arms. Before the draft was done and the signing period over, they added 17 hurlers, including three lefties, to the organization.
This is the first in a series featuring the 2012 pitching class. It takes a look at their career before the draft, how they pitched after turning pro, and where they may start 2013. We begin with Tyler Bremer and Jasvir Rakkar, working up the draft board to Pierce Johnson. Other pitchers featured in order will be Eddie Orozco, Steve Perakslis, Nathan Dorris, Michael Harmann, Corbin Hoffner, Justin Amlung, Chad Martin, Michael Heesch, Trey Lang, Anthony Prieto, Josh Conway, Ryan McNeil, Duane Underwood, Paul Blackburn and Johnson.
Tyler Bremer, RHP, 27th round, pick #824, Baylor University
Cubs pitching prospect Tyler Bremer found himself in some big ball games in 2012.
Selected by the Cubs in the 27th round (pick # 824) from Baylor University, the right-hander, ended his college career in impressive fashion winning the elimination game in the Waco Regional against Oral Roberts, and then tossing nine scoreless innings, the longest outing of his career, against Arkansas in the deciding Super Regional game with a trip to Omaha on the line. The Bears lost 1-0 in 10 innings. He finished his senior year 7-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 15 games. He had nine starts, pitching 58 2/3 innings with 50 strikeouts and 14 walks. As a junior, he threw 30 innings going 2-2 with a 7.80 ERA.
Bremer attended Berkeley High School in California earning All-Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League Pitcher of the Year honors with a 7-2 record and 86 strikeouts in 63 innings. His AAU teams won the national championship in 2005 and a Junior Olympics gold medal in 2006. He started his college career at UC-Davis appearing in six games allowing 18 hits in 21 innings with 20 strikeouts and four walks. He had a 0-1 record and a 2.57 ERA but left the program his freshman year. During the summer Bremer played for the Eau Claire Express in the Northwoods League and threw the first no-hitter in league history before enrolling at Yavapai Junior College for the 2010 season. Bremer made 16 appearances racking up 90 innings while posting a 7-5 record with a 2.90 ERA. He fanned 101 while walking 46 and allowing 78 hits. The California native caught the attention of Cub scouts who selected him in the 33rd round but he headed to Baylor instead of turning pro.
After signing with the Cubs, he made his pro debut on July 22 in the Arizona Fall League against the Reds. He faced four hitters allowing two hits and a run in one inning. He took his first pro loss in his next game, allowing two runs against the A's on July 27 in 1.1 innings. Despite the two rough outings in the Rookie League, Bremer was promoted to Boise and made his Northwest League Debut on Aug. 1 vs. Spokane. Again he had problems allowing four runs on six hits in two innings.But the right hander found his rhythm in his next three outings working seven scoreless frames while striking out six, and earned his first pro save. He pitched in four more games the rest of the month for Boise allowing four earned runs on six hits in six innings. Bremer finished the regular season totaling 15 innings in the NWL with a WHIP of 1.47 and an ERA of 4.80. He had 12 strikeouts while walking five. And once again, he found himself pitching in must win games. Bremer worked three innings to get the victory in the Hawks come-from-behind win in Game 2 over Yakima in semi-finals of the Northwest League playoffs, allowing just one hit with a walk and three strikeouts. In the deciding game of the NLW finals, Bremer took the mound with his team leading in the eighth inning but allowed two walks before being pulled after getting one out. Vancouver would score seven unearned runs in the inning and win 12-9.
The 6'2" 210-pounder has an excellent chance to leave Arizona with the Kane County squad working out of the bullpen this season.
Jasvir Rakkar, RHP, 26th round, pick # 794, Stony Brook
June of 2012 was a good month for Jasvir Rakkar. Not only did his college team, Stony Brook, make its first-ever College World Series appearance, the right-handed pitcher was selected by the Cubs with their 26th round selection.
At 6'2" and 200 pounds, Rakkar saw plenty of action during Stony Brook's memorable run to Omaha. The junior shined in the NCAA Regionals pitching a perfect inning in the 10-2 win over Miami in the opening game and then got the start against Central Florida in an elimination game. Rakkar's right arm help put the Seawolves into the regional final working six innings and throwing 99 pitches in the win. He allowed seven hits and five runs but Stony Brook provided plenty of offense in the 12-5 win. Against LSU in Game 1 of the Super Regionals, Rakkar was charged with the blown save as he allowed the tying run to score in the eighth as LSU went on to win 5-4 but Stony Brook won the next two games to advance to Omaha. In the College World Series, Rakkar pitched 4 1/3 innings in the Seawolves 9-1 loss to UCLA allowing three hits and one earned run. He threw 70 pitches, 42 of them strikes, and ended with four strikeouts. He was greeted with a two-run double that plated two runs facing his first hitter in the second inning. He pitched 51 innings for Stony Brook in 2012 allowing 41 hits and 20 walks while fanning 41. Opponents hit only .220 against him and he recorded three saves. He was used sparingly his first two years pitching only 39 1/3 innings in 18 games.
A member of the 2008 Ontario Youth team, Rakkar played four years of varsity baseball at Bramalea Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario.
After signing with the Cubs on July 3 Rakkar made his pro debut on July 31 working a scoreless inning against the Royals in the Arizona Rookie League. The 21-year-old pitched in seven games working 10 innings while allowing 10 hits and three earned runs. He fanned 13 and walked five with a 2.70 ERA. Rakkar was unscored on his first five AZL appearances and had a BAA of .256.
It will be interesting to see what the Cubs do with the youngster with his limited innings the past three years. He may stay in the bullpen and could make the Kane County roster but will likely stay in Arizona and head to Boise in June.