You're certainly very familiar with Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer. Drafted first in the 2001 draft, Mauer eschewed football to play for the Twins. He has earned three batting titles and an MVP Award. Through the 2012 season, he has hit .323 (OPS .873), and he recently signed a second contract extension with his hometown team He missed much of the 2011 season, and one wonders how long his body will hold up. Despite that, his career WAR of 37 shows the Cubs should feel free to grab a catcher early in the 2012 draft, right?
The counterpoint to that idea is Steve Chilcott. (You're saying, "Who?" In 1966, scouting directors were torn on which of two players should get selected first. Chilcott was a strong-armed high school catcher from California. The other option was a college outfielder from a western college. The Mets opted to take Chilcott first, and it looked fairly good early on. He was hitting and catching rather well until a baserunning play injured his shoulder. His arm never recovered, and he never reached the big leagues. Chilcott wasn't a flop, he simply got hurt.
Unable to select Chilcott, the Kansas City Athletics settled for Arizona State's Reggie Jackson. Perhaps you've heard of him.
There are many risks to selecting a catcher early. Even solid coaching won't guarantee a future starter, as the defensive and offensive ends of the position are by no stretch the only challenges. Having a catcher that can hit higher than seventh, call a good game, and control the opponent's running game is a huge positive. There are a string of catchers who are solid on defense, and have at least one other solid tool in this draft. Many of them are high school options, like Mauer. And Chilcott. Below are a few options.
Jonathan Denney gets the most ink, and here he takes some BP.
If any of you want to spearhead one or more of these prospects, feel free. Among the problems with taking one early is that it counters the "pitching early and often" mantra of the front office. Theo Epstein rode Jason Varitek rather hard for a long time in Boston, relying on over-slotted bonuses to add other options, such as Ryan Lavarnway. This method is less of an option now. In short, I don't know how Epstein is at judging or developing backstops. We shall find out.
The top high school catcher in Hawaii is injured.
The other pole of the battery is pitching. Here are some solid second and third round options, as culled by Cubs Den. Well done, gentlemen.
I'm not very difficult to please when it comes to audio coverage. You need not be very practiced, have a great radio voice, or even be unbiased. What you need is the timing of the game. I was listening to most of Ryne Stanek's Thursday night start against Arizona State. I can't tell you anything about the broadcast. Arkansas' pen was warming up in the third inning, but in the fourth, Stanek was pitching much better. I have no idea on pitch selection, or where he was missing, Stanek was charged with the loss in a Arizona State 3-2 win. Stanek fanned three in just under six innings of work.
Kevin Ziomek is playing his way into the first round. The Vanderbilt lefty fanned 15 in a 9-0 complete game win over UIC. Ziomek walked three and surrendered one hit. His catcher (since I'm talking catchers, and Derek Johnson, the Cubs roving pitching co-ordinator knows him) Spencer Navin was 1-for-2 with two walks. Navin would be my expectation of a catcher to draft. While he might not have the upside of some others, his familiarity with Johnson's system adds to his value to the Cubs.
Kent Emanuel of North Carolina and Austin Kubitza of Rice pitched to a draw on Friday. Neither was involved in the decision of a 2-1 Tar Heel victory. Neither figures to go where the Cubs pick in the first round, or be left at their spot in the second, but it sounds like it was a really solid pitchers' duel.
Mark Appel of Stanford threw five no-hit innings against Texas on Friday. After giving up a single in the sixth, he ended pitching a three-hit, one walk shutout. Stanford defeated Texas 2-0. Appel "settled" for 14 strikeouts.
Sean Manaea had the inclement weather problem on Friday and Saturday. I will update in the comments if he gets to pitch on Sunday.
Clint Frazier conveniently waited until a YouTube producer started his camera Friday to homer against Brookwood.
Florida State had an impressive ground game, beating Villanova 23-5 on Friday. So much for the offenses being inept. The Wildcats must've blocked a punt for the safety.