Cubs Tab Hayden Simpson with First-Round Pick

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs tonight selected right-handed pitcher Hayden Simpson out of Southern Arkansas University with the 16th overall pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Simpson was recommended by area scout Jim Crawford.

Simpson, 21, concluded the 2010 season with a 13-1 record and a 1.81 ERA (20 ER/99.1 IP) in 15 starts, including six complete game efforts and three shutouts for Southern Arkansas. He led the club in wins, ERA, opposing batting average (.201), innings pitched and starts. He also led the team with 131 strikeouts in 99.1 innings pitched, good for an average of 11.9 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched that ranks third-highest in school history.

"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 Tim Wilken, director of amateur and professional scouting for the Cubs. "I think we're fortunate to have received really good coverage from our scouts with this selection."

The six-foot, 175-pound Simpson recorded a 42.2-consecutive scoreless innings streak this season, second-longest in Gulf South Conference history. His 13 victories rank second-most in a single-season in school history. Simpson was named runner-up for the inaugural Tino Martinez Division II National Player of the Year award among a field of over 100 players from across the country.

"I'm so thrilled right now, and I'm extremely excited to be a Chicago Cub," said Simpson. "This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, and I'm definitely ready to get started."

Additional honors for Simpson this season include Daktronics National Pitcher of the Year honors and his second-consecutive nod to the First-Team NCAA Division II All-America baseball squad. He was also named the Gulf South Conference West Division Player of the Year and was a unanimous First-Team Gulf South Conference selection.

Simpson preceded his 2010 campaign by going 12-1 with a 2.32 ERA (28 ER/108.2 IP) in 16 starts during his sophomore year in 2009. He limited hitters to a .182 batting average, striking out 132 batters compared to 44 walks. Simpson spun six complete game efforts, including four shutouts.

In three seasons at Southern Arkansas University, Simpson compiled a 35-2 record with a 2.39 ERA (72 ER/271.0 IP) in 48 career games, 39 starts. His 323 career strikeouts are a school record, and in 271.0 career innings translates to 10.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched. He tallied 12 complete games while his seven career shutouts tie the Gulf South Conference record.

Additionally, his seven Conference Pitcher of the Week awards are a league record.

Simpson graduated from Magnolia ( Ark.) High School in 2007.

The 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft continues tomorrow with rounds two-through-30 and concludes Wednesday with rounds 31-through-50.

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