Rather silly to judge the draft just hours after a team's first 10 picks are made, but I like what the Cubs have done. Unable to sign young top end talent on the International market this summer because of lat year's haul that ignored the spending limitations (Cubs can only spend $250,000 on any July 2 prospect), the Cubs got one of the top players and added three young pitchers on day 2.
Its likely the Cubs saved money on the first three picks without having to sacrifice talent, getting the top power bat in the draft, an improving arm without much wear and tear, and a solid defensive catcher to go with his athleticism. They added top of the draft pitching talent with three high school arms and then selected four college pitchers to round out day two.
Here's a look at the Cubs eight picks in round 3-10 with links to player pages for videos and other stories.
Cubs 3rd pick, # 78 overall, Mark Zagunis, C, Virginia Tech, Bats: Right, Throws: Right, Slot Value $714,900
Cubs have made no secret they lack catching depth in the minors and took the three-year college backstop with their third pick. The two-time second-team All-ACC catcher, Zugunis is athletic and durable, evident by 50 career stolen bases and 161 consecutive games. The 6-foot, 212-pounder hit. .330/.426/.426 with 23 multi-hit games and only fanned 20 times in 209 at-bats as a senior. The New Jersey native should have an excellent shot at moving through the minors behind the plate. He posses an average arm but doesn't project as a power bat. Zagunis was ranked #112 by Scout.com.
Round 4, #109, Carson Sands, LHP, North Florida Christian High School, Throws: Left; Bats: Left. Slot Value—$480,600
The Florida State commit was a day one pick on some "expert" boards as his fastball spiked this spring, touching the mid-90s. The 19-year-old also throws a curve and change-up but is a long way from the majors. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder may be seeking more than the $480,000 slot value but the Cubs should have the extra funds to meet his demands. Cubs only drafted and signed one high school arm last year—Tennessee prep Trevor Clifton in the 12th round—another pitcher who played for Team USA like Sands. All players progress differently but Paul Blackburn and Duane Underwood, both top picks in 2012 draft, are just starting their first full season at Kane County this year. Sands was ranked #64 by Scout.com.
Round 5, # 139, Justin Steele, LHP, George County High School, Mississippi, Throws: Left; Bats; Right. Slot Value—$359,900
Cubs went to the prep ranks for their second straight pick taking the left-hander from MIssissippi. The Cubs will look to lure the 6-foot-2, 170 pounder out of his Southern Mississippi commit after going 5-1 with a 0.98 ERA with a BAA of .109 his senior year. He's best pitch is a fastball that sits in the low 90 and throws a decent curve. Some in the industry have the 18-year-old destined for the bullpen but the Cubs have shown the ability to give their pitching prospects a chance to start until they prove otherwise. Regardless, if the Cubs can sign him, he should spend the rest of the summer in Mesa and become very familiar with the facility during the off-season. Steele was ranked #154 by Scout.com.
Round 6, # 169, Dylan Cease, RHP, Milton High School, Georgia; Throws: Right; Bats: Right. Slot Value—$269,500
With rumors of topping the gun at 100 mph, the right-handed prep was considered one of the top arms in the draft but suffered an elbow injury in March. One of the hardest throwers in the draft, Cease was 91-95 before the injury with an average curveball. There have been rumors that Cease will need Tommy John surgery to correct the elbow injury but recently threw after having a plasma injection. If Cease does need surgery, he might be better off under the care of the Cubs and the new facility at Mesa rather than Vanderbilt, where a scholarship awaits. Cease has a smooth windup that explodes at release, making it deceptive as well as inconsistent. If Cease does opt for surgery, he may not make his debut until 2016 or late in 2015. He was ranked # 80 by Scout.com.
Round 7, # 199, James Norwood, RHP, St. Louis University University, Throws: Right; Bats: Right. Slot Value—$201,900
Cubs went back to the college ranks in the seventh round, taking the hard throwing right-hander with a fastball in the mid-90s that can top out higher. He lacks a secondary pitch but that's where the Cubs development comes into play if Norwood is to succeed as a pro. He should get a chance to start. The former prep from All Hallows High School in Manhattan, New York, enrolled at St. Louis as a freshman, appearing in 20 games, with 36 K in 40.1 innings. His sophomore season was cut short, appearing in just seven games. He stepped into the Friday night's tarter role and excelled going 8-2 as a junior for the Bills, posting a 2.68 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 28 walks. He earned first team All-Atlantic 10 accolades for his efforts. Norwood's eight victories is the second-highest single season win total in SLU history. He was ranked #102 by Scout.com.
Round 8, # 229, Tommy Thorpe, LHP, Oregon University, Throws: Left, Bats: Left, Slot Value—$161,800
The Ducks' Friday night starter and a member of Team USA, the left-hander made 16 starts and logged over 100 innings for the second straight year. A two-time all Pac-12 first-team selection, the 6-foot, 185-pounder fanned 90 his junior year and had a BAA of .217. Thorpe's not going to light up any radar guns, and needs to keep the ball down to be effective. He showed more command of the zone this season and spent last summer playing for Team USA, which had a workout at Wrigley Field and games at two of the Cubs minor league affiliates in Des Moines and Geneva. Thorpe's fastball sits 84-87 but prefers to work off a decent curve and a better change-up. Depending on when he signs, Thorpe could be back in the Northwest as part of the Boise rotation.
Round 9, # 259, James Farris, RHP, Arizona University, Throws: Right, Bats: Right. Slot Value—$151,000
Selected by the Astros in the 15th round last year, Farris returned for his senior year, his third in the rotation with the Wildcats. His best tool is his command as works both sides of the plate with an average fastball, a decent breaking ball, and a change-up. Went from making two appearances as a freshman to starting in the Wildcats NCAA title win against South Carolina as a sophomore. Had five complete games as a senior, throwing 113.2 innings with 100 K and only 19 BB. With over 100 innings already under his belt, its unlikely the Cubs let Farris throw too many more, with most of those coming at Boise.
Round 10, # 289, Ryan Williams, RHP, East Carolina University, Throws: Right; Bats: Right. Slot Value—$141,00
Ryan Williams was the other guy in the East Carolina rotation, the one not named Jeff Hoffman. The right-hander became the first Division I pitcher to win 10 games this season, closing out the year with an 11-3 record with seven saves in 32 appearances, picking up a win or save in 18 of the Pirates 33 victories. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder earned First-Team All-Conference USA accolades, was a third-team All-American, and led the Pirates in six pitching categories, becoming the 10th hurler in program history to claim the pitching triple crown. The Morgan Hill, California native struck out 76 batters while walking just 11 and ranked 10th nationally in strikeout-to-walk ration (6.91). Williams allowed 27 runs (20 earned) in 99.2 innings and registered a 1.81 ERA. He spent two years at West Valley College before signing at East Carolina, where he went 6-2 with a 4.50 ERA as a junior. Williams has thrown 99 innings this spring so where ever his pitches after his signs, he won't be getting many more.
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