We begin our look at the NL Central with the Chicago Cubs.
Chicago Cubs Draft Review
1) Hayden Simpson, RHP, Southern Arkansas University: The stunner of the first round, Simpson was a Division II star and more than one team was reportedly interested in him as a second round "surprise" choice. The Cubs were in love with his 90-95 MPH fastball, hard slider and good curveball, and couldn't take the risk that he would be gone by their next selection. It is a bold move; time will tell if it works out.
2) Reggie Golden, OF, Alabama HS: A raw tools player, he's a shorter guy at 5-11 but has power and speed potential. I think he's a good pick with a lot of upside.
3) Micah Gibbs, C, Louisiana State University: Very strong defense will get him to the majors, but whether he starts or not depends on the development of his bat, which is uncertain. Some scouts think he will hit, others aren't sure.
4) Hunter Ackerman, LHP, Louisburg Junior College: This arm from North Carolina can hit 90, but is raw and will need development time. This could be a mild overdraft.
5) Matt Szczur, OF, Villanova: Blazing speed makes him an NFL prospect as a receiver. On the diamond, he gets on base but lacks power. He's raw as college guys go, but works hard and has a chance to improve.
6) Ivan DeJesus, OF, Puerto Rico HS: No relation to the former major league shortstop or his son. DeJesus has average across-the-board tools and was expected to go somewhere in the 10th round range.
7) Ben Wells, RHP, Arkansas HS: A sleeper choice; Cubs scouts must have been very busy in Arkansas this spring. Wells hits 90, could get faster as he matures, and shows potential with his breaking ball. He would have been better-known in a different state.
8) Cam Greathouse, LHP, Gulf Coast CC: Breaking ball specialist with an average heater, profiles as a back-end rotation guy or a possible LOOGY.
9) Kevin Rhoderick, RHP, Oregon State University: Hits 90-93, has a slider with bite, but inconsistent in college. Could be a good value pick if the Cubs can refine him.
10) Aaron Kurcz, RHP, JC of Southern Nevada: Can hit 94 MPH, but small size kept him out of the earlier rounds. Could be a good relief arm.
FOUR OTHERS OF NOTE: 11-Eric Jokisch, LHP, Northwestern; 18-Brooks Pinckhard, RHP, Baylor; 26-Danny Muno, 2B-SS, Fresno State; 27-Bryan Harper, LHP, JC of Southern Nevada.
COMMENT: The Cubs bucked consensus with several picks, Simpson the most obvious, though Ackerman, Szczur, and DeJesus all went earlier than most expected. This doesn't mean the Cubs are wrong: it means they really trust their scouts, and don't care what other people think. I like Golden, and Wells in the seventh round is a genuine sleeper to watch. As for Simpson, I like the pick for its unconventionality and surprise factor, and I like him enough to give the Cubs the benefit of the doubt right now. He was on my personal sleeper list pre-draft, but I didn't think there was any way he'd go before the third round. Watch the scouting video of him. He may not be super tall, but he's athletic and has a live arm. If he'd gone to school a Arkansas instead of Southern Arkansas, he would have been mentioned as a much higher draft possibility.