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Welcome to the Cubs Family, RHP Ryan Jensen of Fresno State

The Cubs made a surprise choice with a fast-rising Diamond Dog.

Ryan Jensen
Fresno State Athletics Department

With the 27th pick of the MLB Draft, the Cubs went with a surprise and took Fresno State right-hander Ryan Jensen.

Jensen is a bit of a surprise pick, as most observers saw him as more of a second- or third-round pick coming into the draft. But Chris Crawford of Rotoworld offers this assessment along with a report that he wasn’t that much of a “reach.”

Baseball America ranked Jensen as the 109th-best prospect in the draft and this is some of what they had to say about him.

While Jensen stands at just 6 feet, 180 pounds, he has big-time stuff with a fastball that’s been as high as 98 mph. The pitch has plenty of life in the form of arm-side run and natural sink, and he pairs it with an impressive slider that scouts say flashes plus at times. He has also shown a changeup that has solid arm-side movement, but he’s primarily pitched off of his fastball/slider combination. Despite Jensen’s intriguing stuff, he hasn’t struck out as many batters as evaluators would expect.

Keith Law of ESPN, on the other hand, ranked Jensen as the 32nd-best prospect in the draft and said this about the newest Cub.

A 6-foot right-hander, Jensen has one of the biggest fastballs in the class, regularly working at 97-99, with a lightning-quick arm, albeit with long arm action and lack of a plus second pitch.

MLB Pipeline thought Jensen was the 99th-best prospect.

Jensen has arm strength to spare, with a fastball that sits from 94-98 mph. He’s able to maintain his velocity deep into his starts, showing plenty of 97-98 mph heaters in the seventh and eighth inning of his starts. When he finds his arm slot, it can have plus life, but he often loses it, causing it to be flat and very hittable. His slider will show flashes of being an above-average pitch, but it’s not consistent. He does have an upper-80s changeup with some fade that might be average, but he doesn’t use it much. Jensen has a tendency to over stride at times, which makes it tougher for him to repeat his delivery and command the baseball.

Fangraphs called him the 56th-best prospect, saying he “Jensen will hold upper-90s heat deep into games.”

Personally, I watched (on television) Jensen’s last start, which was in the Stanford regional against UC-Santa Barbara. He absolutely dominated the Gauchos, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning and finishing with two runs on four hits over 7.2 innings. He struck out eight and walked one.

Here’s some video of Jensen pitching.

One of the biggest knocks about Jensen is his size. He’s only 6’0” tall and general scouting wisdom is that short right-handers have a low upside. There are exceptions of course (Greg Maddux, Roy Oswalt, not to compare Jensen to those two.) but many observers think Jensen is destined for the bullpen because of his size and his inconsistent secondary stuff.

So while this pick was a bit of a surprise, it wasn’t necessarily a bad one. Jensen is a guy who could move through the system quickly and even if he doesn’t work out as a mid-rotation starter, he could be a very good bullpen arm. For a player taken at #27, that’s all you can ask for.

So I ask for everyone to welcome Ryan Jensen to the Cubs.

Update: In the second round, the Cubs selected UCLA infielder Chase Strumpf.

Here are some scouting reports on Strumpf.

MLB Pipeline ranked Stumpf as the 41st-best prospect, saying in part:

it’s Strumpf’s hit tool that stands out. He can flat out rake with excellent strike zone discipline, showing the ability to barrel up the baseball consistently. While he doesn’t have huge raw power, there’s some definite thump from the right side of the plate and he can punish mistakes. While he was a shortstop in high school, he doesn’t have the arm or speed to play there, but he should be a reliable defender at second base.

ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him 57th:

He’s had a down year after a huge sophomore season that saw him hit .363/.475/.633 and might still get him into the sandwich round.

Baseball America ranked Strumpf 42nd:

The 6-foot-1 second baseman has a quiet setup at the plate and has consistently shown excellent bat-to-ball skills, with an impressive ability to backspin the ball the opposite way to right-center field. He has also displayed a strong knowledge of the strike zone, recording nearly as many walks (87) as strikeouts (106) the last two years. Strumpf is an offensive-minded infielder who can make the routine plays at second base but struggles to make the difficult ones.

Here’s a collection of highlights from Strumpf’s big sophomore season.

Also let’s give a big welcome to Chase Strumpf as well.