Thursday, at the Major League Baseball draft, the Chicago Cubs made a surprising move by not drafting the power arm of Jonathan Gray from Oklahoma after the Houston Astros chose Mark Appel from Stanford with their first overall pick. It was assumed by many that they would pick whomever the Astros would not take. They instead chose Kris Bryant from San Diego with their second pick.
I like them taking Bryant once Appel was off the board. While Gray is a great power arm that hits 100 mph with his fastball, Bryant has huge power and out homered a majority of the other Division I colleges by himself as he hit 31 home runs in only 228 ABs that will have an immediate impact in the middle of the lineup when his time is to be in Chicago.
It’s no secret the Cubs need some better arms in the organization. They’ve made some pretty picks in the last two years with Pierce Johnson and Duane Underwood last year and Dillon Maples in 2011. If you take out Maples couple of real bad starts, both he and Johnson have been pitching well. Underwood will be pitching for the short season Boise Hawks later this summer. It should be known that after the Bryant pick they did pick up pitchers with 19 of their draft picks this year. I haven’t had a lot of time to delve into those picks yet to see if there were any good arms in those picks, though it is worth noting a lot of these kids are college pitchers rather than kids being drafted out of high school. I like this move too.
What does this move mean for the Cubs?
It puts Bryant right at the top as their best 3B prospect in the organization. It also means that Josh Vitters days as the “third baseman of the future” are, for the most part, over. He has not developed as well as many would have thought when he was drafted third overall in 2006. Ian Stewart has also requested a release via twitter after he’s been put behind Vitters on the Iowa Cubs depth chart. If Bryant can be signed quickly, he can get some at bats this season for a minor league squad and could be in the Majors next season already. If you ask Bryant, he says he’s ready to be in the Majors right now. I like the kid’s enthusiasm and confidence.
It has been assumed by many that top pick in 2011, Javier Baez, would eventually move to the hot corner after having Starlin Castro signed long term, and that could still be the plan. Many scouts have said that Bryant could potentially play a corner outfield position relatively well in similar fashion to how Ryan Braun moved from 3rd to LF. Matt Holliday played a few games at 3rd in the minors as well. Bryant has a plus arm that would work at third, left, or right field. Soriano’s contract is finally almost done, and Albert Almora and Jorge Soler are still some seasons away from being Major League ready. Alternatively, Baez could move to 2nd if the Cubs move Darwin Barney in the next couple of seasons.
Realistically, Bryant could be playing third next season in Chicago since Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom are stop-gap players till something better comes along. I like keeping Bryant at third while Baez progresses over the next season or two. It will be worth looking at Bryant in the outfield to see if he could handle it on a daily basis as I want to see Barney stick around for his glove in the infield, so Baez could move to third. Bryant could spell Rizzo at first as needed as well.
Things are looking good for the Cubbies in the future, with some pretty good drafts the last two season, but it’s still going to take a couple of seasons before they’re ready for a playoff push.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis Tagged: | Albert Almora, Chicago Cubs, Cody Ransom, Darwin Barney, Dillon Maples, Duane Underwood, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Josh Vitters, Kris Bryant, Luis Valbuena, MLB Draft, Pierce Johnson, Prospects, Starlin Castro