With the Houston Astros taking pitcher Mark Appel with the first pick, the Cubs surprised many when they took 3B Kris Bryant instead of pitcher Jonathan Gray. While the Cubs probably do need more pitchers than hitters to add in their minor league system, you always want to draft the best available player. The biggest mistakes that teams make are when they draft based on need, especially in the first round.
In the second round, the Cubs selected LHP Rob Zastryzny. I think that this is the beginning of a pitching run for the Cubs. In the 2012 draft, they selected outfielder Albert Almora in the first round, and followed that pick with 10 consecutive pitchers. I think there is a good chance that we see something similar to this in the next portion of the draft.
Bryant had an incredible year at the University of San Diego. He hit for an average of .329 with 31 home runs and 62 RBIs. He had an OBP of .493 and slugged an incredible .820. These numbers came in only 62 games, so he averaged one home run every other game.
Bryant’s power is very impressive. He has by far the most power out of any prospect in this draft, and adds another great offensive prospect to an already-impressive bunch including Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Almora. In my opinion, the Cubs now have the most impressive group of offensive prospects in the game.
Zastryzny’s traditional pitching numbers are not all that impressive as he went 2-9 this season with a 3.38 ERA in a very tough SEC. He did strikeout 8.14 batters per nine innings and only walked 2.38 per nine innings.
Zastryzny has very good control and mixes up his pitches very well. Recently, his fastball has gained more velocity and that allowed him to climb up draft boards a bit. His changeup is his next best pitch, and he also throws a breaking ball that needs some improvement. Zastryzny struggles with his command at times, and that will have to improve if he is to have success at the next level.
The results may not be there yet, but he has the raw stuff to be a very successful big league pitcher.
Overall, I think the Cubs had a very successful first day at the draft. Bryant was a bit of a surprise pick, but he is every bit as talented as anyone else in the draft. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are doing a fantastic job of rebuilding this franchise. If they keep making picks like Bryant and Zastryzny, the future will be very bright on the North Side.