Were you aware that Major League Baseball now holds a Draft Combine, something the league copied from the NFL, in order to further evaluate over 200 draft-eligible prospects? This year it’s being held at San Diego’s Petco Park and the main event is a six-and-a-half-hour showcase that will be aired live on the MLB Network this Friday starting at noon ET.
The two players who have been most frequently linked to the Cubs at No. 7 overall in this year’s draft — Cam Collier and Temarr Johnson — will be participating. Stud pitcher Dylan Lesko, who also gets mentioned when talks turn to Chicago’s potential selection, will not take part because he is recovering from Tommy John surgery. If you are looking for a Cubs sleeper or two to keep an eye on, shortstop Zach Neto of Campbell University and high school lefty Jackson Ferris will also be attending.
Johnson and Collier are considered the best prep bats in the draft, so it would be exciting news if one falls to the Cubs.
“Termarr Johnson…he’s probably the best high school hitter to come out of the draft in, it might be 20 years. Just a great swing — you’re going to see how the ball carries,” Jim Callis said. “Collier…he’s still just 17. He’s going to take BP. He’s one of the best hitters in the draft, too. Those guys are both potential top-10 picks.”
Are you ready for the Draft Combine?
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 15, 2022
Off the field, Combine attendees will have a chance to speak with MLB general managers and scouting personnel to make a case for themselves and their athletic futures. Last year’s event had a big impact on first-round selections. Catcher Henry Davis vaulted all the way to the top of the draft board as the first overall selection by the Pirates after a strong week and it created a domino effect that dropped consensus No. 1 Marcelo Mayer to No. 4, where the shortstop was chosen by the Red Sox. The Cubs got the best lefty in last year’s draft when they selected Jordan Wicks, who could end up being a steal considering he fell to No. 16.
One player who could impact this year’s order is Alabama left-hander Connor Prielipp. He’s ranked No. 24 by MLB Pipeline but had he not had elbow surgery last May he might be in consideration for the top pick. Jonathan Mayo has him falling to the Padres at No. 39 in his latest mock but other sites have Prielipp going in the 18-22 range.
Once the first round is complete, keep your eye out for Ben Joyce of Tennessee. He has hit as high as 105 on the radar gun and is considered the best reliever in this year’s class. Tyler Locklear of Virginia Commonwealth is a masher who might be a steal in the second round, too.
If you’re interested in catching some or all of the coverage, the MLB Network is going to devote a good chunk of its studio shows to this year’s Combine, and they released this week’s television schedule earlier today.
Affiliate News & Notes
- The Cubs called up Glen Ellyn native Eric Stout from Iowa the other day. Sean Newcomb was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.
- Chicago also called up top pitching prospect Caleb Kilian to start Wednesday night against the Padres. Cubs fans should temper their expectations based on comments made by manager David Ross.
- Despite back surgery that has shelved top prospect Brennen Davis, Chicago’s farm system, now led by Pete Crow-Armstrong and Cristian Hernández, has a combination of power and depth not seen since the heady, formative years of Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Báez, and Willson Contreras.
- Davis (No. 15), Hernández (No. 86), and Owen Caissie (No. 90) made Just Baseball’s top 100 list.
- Crow-Armstrong will miss up to two weeks with a bruised hand.
- Matt Mervis and Kevin Alcantara are making strong cases for promotion.
- By going 10-for-24 with six extra-base hits, including three home runs, Alcantara made the latest Prospect Team of the Week.
- The lefty reliever grew up a Cubs fan, so pitching at Wrigley Field is a dream come true.
- Myrtle Beach starter Tyler Santana moved to 6-0 on the season with 5.1 shutout innings against the Fredericksburg Nationals Tuesday night.
- Principal Park in Iowa now has a batter’s eye, which should help hitters. It’s part of a series of moves the club is making to get the park up to Major League Baseball’s facilities standards.
34 years ago today, the Greatest Movie of All-Time was released & announced its presence with authority pic.twitter.com/FLOVhLNypz
— Durham Bulls (@DurhamBulls) June 15, 2022
950 Miles to Chicago
Narciso Crook is today’s featured prospect. A 23rd-round selection by the Reds in 2013 out of Rowan College in South Jersey, Crook spent eight years in the Cincinnati organization before signing with the Cubs earlier this year. He has some pop and his exit velocities are off the charts but he has been seen as a depth piece for most of his career.
Because Davis has been hurt, Crook has seen more playing time and has responded by slugging eight home runs for Iowa with a .895 OPS. There doesn’t look to be a spot on the MLB Cubs barring injuries, but the 27-year-old could get a shot later this season, depending on who GM Jed Hoyer trades.
Tommy Birch of The Des Moines Register posted a nice feature on Crook last month.
Three pitches, three home runs! Jared Young, Narciso Crook and Greg Deichmann give us a 3-0 lead over Omaha. pic.twitter.com/XW7L59UbdO
— Iowa Cubs (@IowaCubs) June 15, 2022
Craft Beer of the Day
Straight Chedd Apricot Pale Ale by Broken Bat Brewing Company – They have a Wiffle Ball Field that is nearly identical to the one at MLB Network, and you’d expect nothing less. I was fortunate enough to sample this one at Paulie’s Pub & Eatery in West, Allis, my regular Sunday hang. The beer pours a hazy, burnt orange and has a flavorful burst of apricots and candied oranges. I exercised a little overkill by drinking it with an orange slice which I quickly discarded. It’s a well-balanced craft beer that hides its 7.1% ABV very well.
I’ll purchase it again (and again), though Paulie’s has a vast array of beers that caught my attention. Straight Chedd pairs fantastically with a plate of Drunken Red Stag Bourbon Cherry wings, my comfort food of choice whenever I hit the West Allis gastropub. Live music, craft beers, and delicious wings – there’s no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon as long as you don’t mind Brewers baseball.
Children of the Corn
Cardinals prospects Tink Hence, Jose Moreno and Roy Garcia combined to toss a no-hitter on Wednesday. Hence has fanned 24 batters in his first 15 innings pitched for Single-A Palm Beach and is said to have ace upside.
St. Louis promoted starting pitcher Matthew Liberatore to the majors. He pitched five scoreless innings against the Pirates and then was returned to Triple-A. Davis Martin and Will Wilson also got the call.
Matt Russell started and resumed a game for Jersey Shore, and went 44 days between outings, so he finished with 129 official pitches across eight innings with 12 strikeouts, and he did it in two different stadiums!
- “I would probably say it’s better than my first call-up with the Royals in 2018 — it’s something I’ve always dreamed of. It looks the same distance between home plate and the mound in Iowa and everywhere else I’ve been, but just a couple more seats in the stands. So it’s very, very cool to be on the field rather than in the stands. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet, honestly.” – Stout
- “We’ve got to give [Kilian] a body of work before we start tinkering and changing. Let’s see what kind of pitcher he is first before we start suggesting he should do something different.” – Ross
You wouldn’t think your typical angsty rock song would employ earthy acoustic guitar and bassy synth fills to drive its semi-aggressive onslaught, but structurally, this song is all punk if you can block out your first instinct to call it something else.