A new era is beginning on the north side of Chicago as the team’s 2011 draft class is starting to make hay and prove why many thought it could turn out to be the organization’s best ever. Shawon Dunston, the team’s 11th-round selection, collected two hits Sunday for short-season Boise in a 4-3 loss to Salem-Keizer. The hits were the first two of his professional career, and he also scored a run in the loss. The 6’-2”, left-hander has looked impressive at the plate, drawing two walks without a strikeout over his first three games. Roderick “Rock” Shoulders, the team’s 25th-round selection, went 1-for-4 with a double for Boise. The 6’-2”, 225-pound left-hander hit his first professional home run Saturday and has been showing off the immense power the Cubs were hoping for when they selected him. Taylor Scott, the team’s fifth-round pick, tossed five scoreless innings in his pro debut Sunday, allowing three hits while striking out four in a no-decision. Scott is a 6’-3”, right-hander originally from South Africa with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s but is still raw in many areas.
While those players are just starting their pro careers, others from the 2011 class have been impressing all season long. Zeke DeVoss, the team’s third-round pick out of Miami, is a slick fielder who has shown his impressive speed and approach at the plate in his first full season. Through 62 games at class-A Peoria, he is hitting .247 with 12 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 19 RBI and 16 stolen bases. He has also drawn 38 walks for a .372 OBP. The 21-year-old is a 5’-11” switch-hitter who can play multiple infield positions and has an advanced feel for the game. Michael Jenson, the team’s 26th-round pick out of Hartnell CC, is turning out to be quite the steal for the Cubs. Through 14 starts for Peoria, he is 7-3 with a 2.58 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 61 K/25 BB over 76.2 innings. The 6’-1”, 185-pound right-hander is holding opponents to a .208 batting average. First-round draft pick, Javier Baez, has been as good as advertised over his first couple of weeks at Peoria. Through 18 games, he is hitting .317 with four home runs, 11 RBI, seven stolen bases and a .974 OPS. The Cubs have recently said they are not going to rush the 19-year-old, instead move him along at his own pace so they can properly develop the five-tool prospect.
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At class-A advanced Daytona, the team’s fourth-round pick, Tony Zych, has been brilliant out of the bullpen all season long and is looking like the team’s set-up man of the future. Through 24 games, the 6’-3”, right-hander is 3-3 with a 3.03 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 30 K/5 BB over 32.2 innings, including five saves. Zych played his high school ball at St. Rita in Chicago and attended college at Louisville. He is a superb command pitcher with great mound presence.
And the best story of the draft so far has been Scott Weismann, the team’s 46th-round pick, and 1,389th player taken overall, who has moved through three levels this season and is currently at double-A Tennessee. The 6’-1”, right-hander out of Clemson has a 2.43 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 26 K/5 BB over 29.2 innings. Weismann was one of the last players taken in the draft but could be the first Cubs selection to make it to the big leagues as a reliever. It just goes to show that it’s not where you get drafted that matters, as long as you are given a chance.