The last weekend in February/first weekend in March provided some decent baseball. It also provided a decent story, as UNLV's Erick Fedde is now considered a viable option at 1.4. However, two things conspired to keep me from writing a column last weekend. One was a bit of domestic responsibility (I hate it when that happens.) The other was a lack of a storyline. This week, I have less of the first, and more of the second.
I'm obviously going to talk about Fedde. If I were running an article last weekend, it could have been a haiku. Hey everybody/The usuals had good weeks/Oooooh, Erick Fedde. Yeah, there could have been more, but what you want to know is Erick Fedde realistic at four? And, moreso, will he get weekly treatment? The second is easier, and he will get covered every week, for now. However, to answer the first, I have to talk about strategy. And Ben Christensen. and Jack Flaherty.
More now than before, the Cubs have a drafting philosophy. It's awfully straightforward. Drafting the 'right guy' seems to be as much about off the field as between the chalk marks. When you examine Albert Almora and Kris Bryant, they seem to get it. When they do an interview, it seems that they are both coached in how to do an interview, but not to an extent that they would say anything different than they did.
If you had a daughter, you'd like her to date or marry a guy like Almora or Bryant. Yes, they're talented, but it seems like they are genuinely nice guys. Similarly, it sounds as if their significant others seem respectful of the situation they're in. While that might sound a bit disrespectful, I don't consider either of them to be Stepford bots. They both will likely have whatever career they're training for, and likely do it well. But, as for now, they are largely in the background on the "Who he is?" interview. As for today, Bryant and Almora are the story. In other words, both pick their friends well.
While some like to point at Hayden Simpson or Earl Cunningham as lousy Cubs draft picks, one of the worst ever was Christensen. He was taken in the first round in 1999 (26th overall) despite ending a rival's career by plunking him in the eye with a directed wild toss, with the reasoning being the player was trying to 'time' his pitches.
While Matt Bush is a bit more current, what with likely having to spend some of his bonus on his bail money, the Cubs have been trying to avid those types recently. And not just with Bryant and Almora. After games, the Twitter discussion is which room they're playing video games in, or on rainout nights, five or six of them are going to a movie together. And the only angry words seem to be at team mates for "thanks for not inviting me." Or, of course, bloggers who are dismissive of their abilities.
On down the line, the Cubs draftees and free agent zygotes seem to be of good character. It seems the opinion is that, if the club has to 'train' a kid to be a straight-up mensch, the team goes another direction. Early, middle, late, and undrafted. Even the main internationals, from Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, and more recently Wladimir Galindo had interviews that could have been penned by the same guy as coached Almora and Baez on interviews.
I'm figuring you have a guess what that means for Fedde, but to staple it home a little better, I ran into a new name early this week, in Jack Flaherty. He's a California prep P/3B, that presumably has more upside on the mound.
Per Nathan Rode
Per @mlacour3, RHP/3B Jack Flaherty 88-92 this afternoon in season debut.13 Ks, 0 BB. 2 IF 1Bs didn't get past mound on jam shots. #mlbdraft— Nathan Rode (@NathanRode) March 5, 2014
Which is impressive, of course. However, the next tweet is the one that puts him on my 2.4 list.
Most impressive thing I saw today..@Jack9Flaherty waiting in parking lot after game for the last JV player to be picked up. #wow #good4ukid— Matt LaCour (@mlacour3) March 5, 2014
The Cubs will not only scout as many players as anyone (the joy of having more scouts than most teams, and on a par with the most active teams), they will likely take very seriously the 'due diligence' angle as well. Before the team would sign off on the righthander from UNLV, the Fedde vetters (yeah, I figured you might like that one) will be as active, or moreso, than the guys breaking down tape on him. It is that important. When you have a locker room full of good teammates, you don't have to worry as much if the star player is breaking curfew, wrecking the long-sought good mojo.
Now, on to baseball. Miami's Javi Salas pitched a perfect game mid-week. I should probably watch the noted Western Carolina game on my computer, as ESPN has it streaming on ESPN3. And a college catcher hit a homer for the Catamounts.
In his start this weekend, Carlos Rodon went the distance earning a 5-3 win against Notre Dame. He walked one and surrendered 10 hits, fanning seven. In the same game, Trea Turner was 1-for-4 with two runs scored, and made his third error of the season. Turner is hitting at a .358/.419/.377 line so far. He has one extra base hit so far, a double.
Tyler Beede is scheduled to pitch against LSU next weekend. Finally, a challenge for him. He dispatched with Winthrop with apparent ease on Friday, going seven in a win. Beede walked none, fanning nine, and the only offense on his six hits was a solo homer. Beede has 25 innings in the books, giving up 11 hits and surrendering five walks. He's fanned 33 and three of his four runs have been earned.
Jeff Hoffman wrecked his seasonal numbers. In a three-and-change outing, Hoffman walked seven. He also hit a pair. He struck out six. Teams are well-off having eyes at as many games as possible, in part on games like this. Obviously, it is a ding against his present, but how much of a swipe does it take at his future?
At New Mexico, Fedde went six, giving up two earned runs. He walked three, fanned five, and allowed four hits.
In an intriguing development, preps Alex Jackson and Brady Aiken had an exhibition clash.
Brady Aiken-Alex Jackson matchup note: Aiken was sitting 93-96 mph, went 94 & 95 on 2nd hitter Jackson, then backwards K on 80 mph hammer.— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) March 8, 2014
As he is young for a high school senior, color me very impressed. I wonder if he stayed around until the other kids were picked up to go home.
No-hitters are becoming the rage in college ball now. There were at least three over the weekend.