The Rundown: Cubs Draft Could Be Decent, Lester Returns to Form, Báez and Contreras Go Yard, CarGo Flashes Leather
I suppose there’s a million reasons why Theo Epstein is president of baseball operations for the Cubs and neither Jonathan Mayo nor Jim Callis are working for any major league club, but it was still a surprise to see the Cubs take Ryan Jensen with their #27 pick in last night’s draft. Jensen was listed 99th on MLB.com’s pre-draft rankings. No player drafted before him had ranked higher than 52nd.
If that wasn’t dramatic enough, check out what UCLA infielder Chase Strumpf did moments after the Cubs selected him in the second round with the 64th overall pick:
STONE. COLD. #RoadToOmaha | @UCLABaseball pic.twitter.com/GPxngSGSQf
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 4, 2019
Look at the kid’s swing. He’s like a right-handed version of Christian Yelich.
At first glance, it felt like the front office took a pitcher who is destined to be a middle reliever and an infielder likely targeted for a utility role, but I’m no scout. And in defense of Epstein and his entourage, Keith Law has both prospects in the top 60 of his big board ($), so maybe last night represents somewhat of a coup for the organization.
Still, after the picks were announced, the first thing I thought of was Tom Ricketts whispering into Theo’s ear in pre-draft meetings “Let’s see if we can’t pick a couple players tonight who will sign for well less than slot value.”
Maybe they’ll roll the dice on Matthew Allan today as an underslot selection and hope to sign him with some of the money they’ll obviously save on their first two picks. Allan reminds me of the Freddie Prinze Jr. character in the worst baseball movie ever, Summer Catch.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs broke out the bats in an 8-1 thrashing of the Angels yesterday. I have to admit however, I was hoping Tommy La Stella would go yard each time he stepped up to the plate. Of course he can’t bunt as well as .200 hitter Daniel Descalso, so there’s that.
- Jon Lester retired 12 consecutive hitters following a David Fletcher single to lead off the game and went on to retire 21 of the 26 Angels he faced. It was a much-needed turnaround for the Cubs ace after a few less than stellar outings. In his previous three starts, Lester allowed 16 earned runs in 14 innings (10.29 ERA) and opposing hitters racked up a .391/.437/.719 line against him. Yes, those stats will burn your eyeballs and peel the skin from your bones.
- New Cubs outfielder Carlos González revealed a bit of the Colorado scouting report ahead of last season’s wildcard game between the Cubs and Rockies. He said the Cubs were “limping” after losing the division to the Brewers the day before. Today is rematch day with Kyle Hendricks squaring off against Jeff Hoffman. If you ask CarGo for any inside information on Hoffman, I’m sure he’d day “swing at everything.” Hoffman boasts a 7.20 ERA coming in to this evening’s game.
- González is excited to play for the Cubs. “Just being on the home side now makes it even more special. The smallest thing, [the fans] make it seem like it’s huge, any single or any plays. They just keep you in the game, and it makes you play hard.”
- The Rockies have won nine of 10 games entering today’s action. The Cubs are 3-7 in that same span.
- Booing Kris Bryant is apparently going to become a regular thing in St. Louis. Yawn.
- González flashed some leather yesterday, didn’t he?
- Javy Báez and Willson Contreras flashed some wood yesterday, didn’t they? I giggled when I wrote that. Yes, it’s inappropriate and I’m somewhat juvenile. Heading into the game, Báez was riding an 8-for-46 (.174) slump with 21 strikeouts. Contreras entered the game 0 for his last 18. Yikes.
A couple of All-Stars doing their thing.#EverybodyIn pic.twitter.com/fakcihkkhB
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 3, 2019
How About That!
The Twins reportedly have interest in signing both Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel.
The Dodgers may never lose again. They’re 17-4 since May 10.
Lucas Giolito of the White Sox has been named AL Pitcher of the Month for May.
The Brewers have optioned 2B Keston Hiura back to Triple-A after reinstating Travis Shaw from the IL. Hiura [121 OPS+] batted .281 with five home runs and nine RBI in 17 games.
MLB has extended the administrative leave of Phillies OF Odúbel Herrera to June 17. Herrera was recently arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Walker Buehler – The Dodgers starter was simply dominant yesterday, allowing just a single run on two hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts.
- Javier Báez – El Mago was 2-for-4 with a homer, two runs, and two RBI yesterday, hopefully breaking his first extended slump of the season.
- Adley Rutschman – The catcher and first selection of the draft will play for the Orioles. Welcome to major league baseball.
Not a Star
Jean Segura – Lazy players really get under my skin. Respect 90, dude.
Apropos of Nothing
There was nothing more annoying than Brewers Twitter last night. Maybe it was the first time they’ve ever live tweeted an event but at one point four of every five tweets in my feed were from Brew Crew Ball. It was like watching a live broadcast of Gossip Girl.
The Rays picked my guy, J.J. Goss, with the 36th overall pick because they are stupid good at drafting and developing pitchers. At least I can pick him in my fantasy league draft next year.
It’s all in the name, kid. It’s tough to market “big league starter” with a name that screams “middle reliever.”
Ryan Jensen is not a stretch here. Stats are sharp, can hit mid-90s, it's a relatively thin year for college pitching. Possible issue is Boring Name Syndrome: if his name was Roxx Jorgensen or Blake Hammer or something he'd get more attention
— John Sickels (@MinorLeagueBall) June 4, 2019
They Said It
- “[Pitching Coordinator] Brendan [Sagara] was in our Draft meetings going through, not only [Ryan Jensen], but a lot of pitchers that we were considering. I can say that Ryan was one of the guys that Brendan was most excited about the potential of having in the organization. And for us, we’re excited to get him in, get him into our system and start working him with pitch design and some mechanical things and see where we go from there. We knew going into that selection, when we were going to make it, that it was going to be a surprise. We understand it, but at the same time, we trust in our process.” – John McLeod
- “[CarGo] is still a young man. I guess he had a good game for our Triple-A team. I’ll just get him out there and play him. He’s not as up-to-date in right field, but he’s going to play in right field right now and I just told him to go out there and not worry about mistakes and just be himself, like I tell everybody else.” – Joe Maddon
- “I’m positive there is a lot of baseball ahead of me. That’s where I want to be. I want to be able to help a club win ballgames, and this is a good opportunity for me.” – Carlos González
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Warehouse by the Dave Matthews Band. “Hey reckless minds…Don’t throw away your playful beginnings.” Yes baseball is a big-money business. The best thing about the MLB draft is that so many of these kids still have that “I love the game” innocence. That won’t last long.