It's draft day! I know most readers aren't that excited because the names mentioned here aren't familiar to you yet. But the emphasis should be on "yet." Some of these guys are going to be stars in the next couple of seasons and some are likely to never play in the majors. But it's safe to say that all major league clubs know that a strong draft is the key to building a good franchise year in and year out.
Once again, Matt Marsden has been kind enough to provide us with information on some more players that Cub fans should know. There's a very good chance that one of the players listed will be a member of the Cub organization by tonight. (OK, they're likely not going to sign a contract today, but you know what I mean.)
In case you've forgotten, the first round of the draft starts tonight at 6pm Central time and the Cubs pick at #16. We'll have an Draft Chat Thread. The telecast begins on the MLB Network at 5pm.
Update: Also, check out MLB Bonus Baby devoted completely to the draft. They've got a great book for sale too if you want the inside scoop on the first 400 picks of the draft or so,
And be sure to vote in our poll!
So far we have looked at a HS pitcher, Karsten Whitson and Ohio St. arm Alex Wimmers. The Cubs have been linked to Whitson quite a bit, but the Blue Jays may get to him first. Wimmers is more likely to be a backup option, but a solid one nonetheless. Here are four other names that the Cubs have been connected to or would be logical options.
Justin O’Conner, c, R-R, 6-1 190 lbs. (Cowan HS, Muncie IN)
This Indiana HS product has not spent much time behind the plate, but has really excelled in the time that he has. Behind the plate, O’Conner has a gun and throws in the low-90’s on the mound. He has also shown strong pop times on throws to 2nd. At the plate, O’Conner has excellent bat speed and a short stroke. His arm extension on the follow through should generate plenty of loft and O’Conner has great raw power. Baseball America’s mock draft on Saturday has the Cubs taking O’Conner. This is a guy who has steadily risen in the ranks this season and should be a solid pick.
Asher Wojciechowski, rhp, 6-4 230 lbs. (The Citadel)
Wojciechowski pitches for The Citadel and has improved his stock this season as his fastball improved from the low to mid-90’s. He has a great pitcher's frame and does a good job keeping his fastball in the zone. Wojciechowski walked just 32 batters in a little over 125 innings this year, while striking out 155. The slider may be his best pitch and rates as above average, but if Wojciechowski cannot develop a better changeup, he may end up in the bullpen. He seems to have some mechanical issues, nearly tripping over himself in the follow through of nearly every pitch. Wojciechowski could be a solid innings eater, but needs work and pitched just OK against mediocre competition this year. He will likely be a backup option for the Cubs, or any other team picking in the top 20.
Brett Eibner, rhp-of, R-R, 6-4 210 lbs. (Arkansas)
Earlier in the season, most scouts believed that Eibner’s future was on the mound. Now, it appears to be a tossup. On the mound, Eibner has an ideal frame and a fastball that ranges from the high-80’s to mid-90’s. He also throws a slider, which is solid, but lacking consistency. Eibner also throws a decent changeup. In over 54 innings this season, he walked only 9 hitters. At the plate, Eibner has big-time power and mashed 21 home runs this season. He also brings along plenty of strikeouts to go with the power. Eibner struck out in about 25% of his at-bats this season. If he wants to be successful at the plate, Eibner will need plenty of work with his pitch recognition. When playing the field, Eibner has been in center, and has a chance to stay there, but will most likely be a right-fielder. It will be interesting where he ends up, as he has plenty to offer on the mound and at the plate.
Stetson Allie, rhp, 6-4 225 lbs. (St. Edwards HS, Cleveland OH)
Allie is the hardest thrower in this year’s draft, hitting 99 mph on a regular basis. His slider is not much slower, as he throws that in the high-80’s. I got the chance to see Allie at the Under Armour game last summer and came away disappointed. His fastball was 93-96 and he hit 97 once. The slider was just average and he could not throw a strike to save his life. At that time, he looked like little more than a power arm in the pen. This season, Allie has made a lot of progress with his control. At this point. he has yet to need a changeup, but may need to work on one in order to stay in the rotation. There is a very good chance that Allie will be gone by #16, but the Cubs may want him and it is difficult not to drool over that kind of velocity.
So who should the Cubs take? I know I certainly wouldn’t complain with any of Whitson, Wimmers or O’Conner. There is a really good chance Whitson will be gone, as he has been connected to a handful of teams that pick before the Cubs. Wimmers would be a nice pick and certainly a change of pace for Wilken. Though Wimmers is a low-floor type of pitcher, he really has strong upside, with at least two plus pitches. O’Conner has really grown on me. He certainly seems capable of staying behind the plate and I love how compact that swing is. It is very likely that at least one of those guys will be on the board when the Cubs pick at #16.