2013 Draft: Cubs’ Top Picks

Kris BryantThe Cubs have the second pick in the MLB Draft. After that, they don’t pick again until the 40th overall pick (2nd Round/2nd Pick). The rest of their picks will be made on Friday night, with the second pick in each round.

Day 2 Coverage of the MLB Draft

Draft Resources
Draft Order
Draft Tracker
Draft Signing Tracker

Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3B University of San Diego
Bryant is loaded with power. Crazy, crazy power. He out-homered entire teams with his 31 bombs. Whether he will stay at third is a question, but he could move to left or right field without a problem. Bryant has a wide stance and from what I can tell (in other words, I am not a scout), he has a big frame with long legs and that Buck Showalter high butt that you look for (Derrek Lee had it too).

Keith Law of ESPN writes (Insider required) that Bryant has a quiet swing that may not induce a lot of contact, but he can certainly destroy a fastball. He adds that Bryant has legitimate 30 home run power and rates his tools as average otherwise.

Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com wrote the following about Bryant (link is to a different story)…

Teams looking for the best power college bat in the class may not have to look further than San Diego. Bryant has been an excellent performer in a weak college conference, but he also led Team USA this summer in slugging percentage. He has easy plus power, maybe more, with the ability to hit the ball out to all fields. He also has a plus arm, and while some feel he’ll have to move to first in the future, others feel he has the actions, arm and power bat to profile well at the hot corner. He’s also shown the ability to play a corner outfield spot during his junior season. There is a good amount of swing and miss to his game, but the team that feels he’ll hit enough will likely take his power bat off the board fairly early in the Draft.

Notice the trend here: not a guy who should hit for a high average, but will make it up in spades with the power. Sticking at third is also a question, from what Mayo hears. It’s also worth noting that he hasn’t been in a tough conference, so the talent he is facing isn’t the top level. That could mean some extra time in the minors.

Connor Glassey of Baseball America writes the following…

Opponents have pitched him very carefully, but he has remained patient, posting a 56-31 walk-strikeout mark. Bryant’s best tool is his plus-plus righthanded power, allowing him to launch towering shots over the light standard in left field or hit balls over the fence to the opposite field. He has adopted a wider base and a simpler approach at the plate this year, and he has impressed scouts with his ability to turn on inside fastballs or go the other way with sliders over the outer half. His plate discipline and ability to consistently barrel up a variety of pitches make him a safe bet to be at least an average hitter, and many scouts think he’ll be better than that. Bryant’s arm gives him another above-average tool. His athleticism gives him at least a chance to stick at third, although he’ll need plenty more repetitions to master the position. Some scouts project him as a prototypical right fielder. He has average speed and can be faster under way, and he has shown good instincts in right and center.

The patience is there, and the arm should play anywhere.

Baseball America also rates Bryant as one of the top power hitters and had the best strike zone judgement among college hitters. Those are two huge reasons to take him.

Baseball Prospectus wrote a nice article on Bryant’s tools. His only below average tool is his speed, which is actually average right now, but they predict he will slow down as he fills out.

At third base he has adequate hands and controls his body well on the move, but his lower-half quickness is below average and his footwork requires a fair amount of work. With reps and pro instruction he might be able to develop into a solid defender at the five-spot, but the path of least resistance is in right, and that’s the spot that should allow his bat to progress the quickest.

The Cubs under Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein seem to be taking their time with their prospects, so a switch to the outfield, if it ever happens, will likely happen later in his development.

Rob ZastryznySecond Round Pick: Rob Zastryzny, LHP Missouri
The Cubs selected a left handed starter out of the University of Missourri.

Zastryzny’s name is obviously made for torture (it’s pronounced zah-strizz-knee), but he’s an interesting pick for the Cubs. This isn’t a high ceiling arm, but more of a crafty lefty that could fit in the middle of the rotation. This might also be a move to improve the team’s immediate starting pitching depth (and by immediate, I don’t mean this year and probably not next year either).

Information on Zastryzny is thin, but here’s what Jonathan Mayo had to say about him…

The latest in a long line of talented Missouri pitchers, Zastryzny has a good feel for the craft of pitching. His fastball typically sits in the upper-80s, but Zastryzny has the ability to add and subtract velocity as necessary. His fastball velocity typically ranges from 86 mph to 94 mph. Zastryzny, a left-hander, uses his height – he’s listed at 6-foot-3 – to create a downhill angle for his fastball, which has late action. Zastryzny also throws a changeup and slider. He commands his whole arsenal well and all three of his pitches have the chance to be at least Major League-average offerings.

It’s interesting that his fastball ranges into the mid 90s. If he could sit 91-92 and touch 94, this looks like a much better pick than I initially thought. He has the height and the body doesn’t look too bad. He could be a Paul Maholm type and be a mid-rotation guy if things work out.

ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider required) wrote that he has four pitches without a real out pitch. He also possibly explains the varying velocity, noting that he has a four and two-seam fastball and their velocities sit at 92-93 mph and 87-88 mph. That certainly makes more sense than ranging from 86 to 94. He also has a change-up and curveball. It’ll be interesting to see what the Cubs decide to do with him. They could add a slider and work on his mechanics to get the most out of him.

The video points out that he’s a fast worker and doesn’t take much time between pitches. In a weird way, he’s a Mark Appel replacement: a guy that can get to the majors quickly and jump into the rotation. If he follows the Pierce Johnson plan, he’ll probably get some time in Rookie and Short Season ball, followed by an assignment to Low A next season. If the Cubs feel he is more advanced, the aggressive move would be to High A.

More bits on Bryant
The Houston Astros were the only team picking ahead of the Chicago Cubs, and they selected Stanford RHP Mark Appel. I was hoping the Cubs would be able to pick Appel, and apparently, so were the Cubs.

This makes a lot of sense. Appel was a polished, high ceiling-high floor player that could get to the big leagues quickly and jump in the rotation. Oklahoma RHP Jonathan Gray scared me a bit because of his lack of polish in comparison and pop-up velocity, as Baseball Prospectus’ Nick Faleris writes.

Again, this isn’t too surprising. The Cubs don’t necessarily have that big time power bat in their line up. They have 20+ home run guys like Almora and Soler, but legitimate 30+ home run hitters from the right side are tough to find. While Baez could certainly match that description, he’s no sure thing.

At least we know the Cubs knew a lot about the player given those relationships. Intelligence sometimes is overlooked in this stuff, but it does matter to teams. I’m sure that was something that made Appel a more interesting prospect as well. Talent always comes first, but there’s nothing wrong with getting a smart player as well. The all academic honors also speaks to his work ethic and maturity.

Don’t expect to see Bryant next year, although it is possible. Bryant will probably take a little time. He’ll be 22 next season, which is usually when prospects hit Double A. If he signs quickly enough, he could be assigned to High A Daytona after a quick stint in Rookie Ball. He could also be assigned to Short Season ball. Low A Kane County would make some sense, but Jeimer Candelario is blocking third there.

Bryant easily slips into the fourth spot on my Chicago Cubs top prospect list, behind Baez, Almora, and Soler. Zastryzny is a little trickier, and would probably land in the 7-12 range.

Day 2 Draft Coverage is continued here.


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