Cubs load up on college arms on Day 2 of Draft
CHICAGO -- The Cubs continued to stockpile pitching -- specifically college arms -- on Friday in the club's second First-Year Player Draft under the Theo Epstein regime.
After taking two college players on Thursday -- third baseman Kris Bryant (No. 2) and left-hander Rob Zastryzny (No. 41) -- the Cubs used seven of their eight Day 2 picks on players out of the college ranks, including a string of five straight collegiate pitchers.
Overall, the Cubs chose six pitchers on Day 2. Five were right-handed.
Adding organizational pitching depth has been a priority since Epstein, Chicago's president of baseball operations, general manager Jed Hoyer and vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod came to Chicago in October 2011.
The Cubs opened Friday by taking one of their two position players selected on Day 2, Brigham Young center fielder Jacob Hannemann (No. 75 overall).
Then it was almost all pitching. The Cubs appear to have gotten value in two arms in particular.
Chicago's fifth-round pick was Texas Tech right-hander Trey Masek (No. 138), while the Cubs nabbed Pepperdine right-hander Scott Frazier in the sixth round (No. 168). Masek and Frazier were ranked No. 67 and 77, respectively, among MLB.com's Top 100 Draft Prospects.
Masek put up strong numbers at Texas Tech, going 5-2 with a 1.82 ERA in 11 starts and tossing three complete games. He missed time because of a rotator cuff injury, however, which might have dropped his stock. Masek told SB Nation last week the injury is not an issue.
"There's been no soreness since I got over that so if any team has asked, I've been very open about it," Masek said. "I'm just looking forward to getting out and to showing that I'm healthy and ready to go."
Inconsistency kept Frazier on the board later than expected. The big right-hander -- he stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 215 pounds -- was seen as a potential first- or second-round talent with a fastball sitting 91-94 mph. But his numbers as a junior at Pepperdine -- 5-5, 4.06 ERA, 83 strikeouts and 40 walks in 88 2/3 innings -- didn't stand out.
Fourth-round pick Tyler Skulina (No. 108) was the ace of the Kent State team that advanced to last season's College World Series. The right-hander was 6-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 15 starts this season, striking out 102 batters in 93 2/3 innings.
The Cubs got a pair of power arms in the seventh and eighth rounds, taking Michigan State right-hander David Garner (No. 198) and Lamar (Colo.) Community College lefty Sam Wilson (No. 228).
Despite being 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Gardner racked up 192 strikeouts in 217 2/3 career innings at Michigan State thanks to a fastball that's reached 95 mph. Wilson, a former two-way player, fanned 109 in 87 2/3 innings this past season.
The Cubs took high school center fielder Charcer Burks in the ninth round (No. 258) and closed Day 2 by taking Tennessee senior right-hander Zack Godley in the 10th round (No. 288).
Chicago's first player taken on the day, Hannemann, is a 22-year-old freshman who went on his Mormon mission before attending Brigham Young University on a football scholarship. He was listed as the backup cornerback on the Cougars' spring depth chart, but his tools on the diamond will lead him into the Cubs organization.
"It's exactly what I wanted," said Hannemann, adding that he and the Cubs will begin negotiations next week. "The opportunity's there, so it's a much better road. BYU was a great opportunity to play both sports I love, but now I'm able to be a professional. I'm a baseball guy now, and I'm a Chicago Cub. I'm real, real excited for it."
He struggled to open the season -- batting only .111/.179/.139/ in his first 40 plate appearances -- but finished .344/.415/.553 with five home runs and seven triples en route to garnering West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American honors.
Hannemann also was 14-for-15 on the basepaths and is hopeful to be part of a young group of players that changes the Cubs' fortunes.
"I'm just real stoked and blessed to be one of those players," Hannemann said of being drafted by Epstein. "I'm going to work hard. Nothing's done yet. I haven't arrived. I don't think I'll ever arrive -- that's my mind-set. I hope I progress through the Minors and sometime help the Cubs have a great season."
Day 3 of the Draft continues with Rounds 11-40 streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at noon CT.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
In the Pipeline
Friday's selections, combined with Thursday's picks of Bryant and Zastryzny, add to a rapidly improving Cubs farm system.
The club's Top 20 Prospects list is headed by three impact position players -- shortstop Javier Baez and outfielders Albert Almora and Jorge Solar, ranked by MLB.com in that order -- and a power-hitting first baseman Dan Vogelbach (No. 11).
The additions of the eight pitchers thus far add to the depth Epstein and Co. have tried to implement since coming to Chicago. Right-handers Arodys Vizcaino (No. 5, out for season with arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow), Dillon Maples (No. 6) and Pierce Johnson (No. 7) are all considered Top 10 prospects by MLB.com, while last year's second-round pick, righty Duane Underwood (No. 15), is an intriguing raw talent.