105 two of the rebuilding process on the north side of Chicago is working out exactly as expected. With the organization building a future perennial contender from the bottom-up, the bottom is looking very promising while the top is breeding an aneurysm somewhere inside me with every passing day. The good news, once again, is the team should be picking in the top-five in the 2014 MLB draft. The great news is the talent in next year’s draft is looking spectacular — especially at the high school level, where prep arms are looking like one of the best classes ever. That is even more good news for the Chicago Cubs, as pitching remains a top priority in their farm system.
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Here is an early look at some guys I will be following closely over the next year:
Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd HS (TX)
The 6’-6”, 240-pound right-hander established himself as an early front runner when he hit 100 mph on some scouts radar guns at Area Code tryouts in June. He then sat in the mid-90s at the Perfect Game Nationals with good feel for a slider that has plus potential. His size suggests even more velocity could be coming, and he has great body control considering his frame. He has been timed at 4.8 in the 40, showing great athleticism. Texas is known for producing big, hard-throwing right-handers, and Kolek definitely fits the mold.
Michael Gettys, RHP, Gainesville HS (GA)
The 6’-2” right-hander put on a show at the Perfect Game Nationals. He hit 100 mph from the outfield, 95 mph on the mound and ran a 6.4/60, firmly placing himself among the elite of the 2014 class. A great athlete, he hit .406 and stole 38 bases over 32 games as a junior. On the mound, he had a 0.99 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 114 K/18 BB over 73 innings, including two no-hitters. In an interview I did with 2013 fifth overall pick Clint Frazier, he said Gettys was the toughest pitcher he faced all year after striking out twice against him in their match-up on April 12. Committed to Georgia.
Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (SC)
A Florida Gator commit, the 6’-2”, 190-pound right-hander hit 96 mph at the Perfect Game Nationals and flashed a plus curveball with excellent command. He adds an above-average change-up, rounding out a solid three-pitch mix. Some scouts think he has maxed out physically, limiting his upside, but as it is, he profiles to a mid-rotation starter and possibly as high as a two. He is a very good athlete with a sound delivery.
Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs Academy (FL)
One of the most electric arms in the 2014 MLB draft, the 6’-2”, 190-pound right-hander has touched 97 mph with his fastball and adds one of the best curveballs in the draft; a knee-buckling, hammer that sits in the mid-70s. He adds a lot of deception to his delivery, making his stuff that much harder to pick up. There is still room for added velocity and, with continued work on his change-up, might not even be available when the Chicago Cubs pick.
Dylan Cease, RHP, Milton HS (GA)
A 6’-2”, 190-pound right-hander with an extremely live arm, Cease hit 97 mph at the Perfect Game Nationals and showed the makings of a plus curveball. He adds a solid change-up and he has a clean, easy delivery. Like many others on this list, he is a very good athlete and two-way player. He had a 1.05 ERA and 98 K/35 BB over 68.1 innings as a junior.
Cameron Varga, RHP, Cincinnati Hills Academy (OH)
A converted shortstop, the 6’-3”, 205-pound right-hander has established himself as one of the top prep arms in the 2014 MLB draft in a short time, thanks in part to a fastball that sits at 93-95 mph. With his lively arm and fluid delivery, there is still room for added velocity. He adds an upper-70s curveball with good depth and a solid upper-70s change-up. Considering he has only been pitching full time for two years, his progression has been scary. Committed to North Carolina.
Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (CA)
One of the youngest players in the 2014 MLB draft, the 6’-4” southpaw is an alumni of Team USA Baseball and is very polished on the mound. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and both his curveball and change-up are solid offerings. He has great control of his pitches and dominated at The Tournament of Stars, striking out seven over three scoreless innings. He had a 1.18 ERA and 80 K/25 BB over 53.1 innings as a junior for a team that included 2013 fourth-round pick Stephen Gonsalves. Committed to UCLA.
Mac Marshall, LHP, Parkview HS (GA)
One of the better southpaws in the 2014 MLB draft, Marshall’s fastball sits in the low/mid-90s and he has worked hard on his delivery and command over the past year. He also flashed a potential plus curveball at the Perfect Game Nationals. At 6’-2” and 185 pounds, he is a great athlete who has been clocked at 6.7 in the 60. As a junior, he had 80 K/32 BB over 46 innings for one of the premiere programs in the country. Committed to Georgia.
Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger HS (CA)
The 6’-3”, 220-pound right-hander will be almost 19 on draft day, making him one of the older players in his class. Because of this, his upside isn’t as high as others on this list. That said, his stuff is really good, and his fastball sits in the 92-95 mph range. He adds a developing plus slider that sits in the mid-80s, and his offspeed stuff is still in the developmental stages. He has great mound presence and feel for his pitches, and he also is a good athlete.
Michael Kopech, RHP, Mount Pleasant HS (TX)
The 6’-4” right-hander can touch 94 mph and his loose, lively arm project to more velocity as he matures. His secondary stuff still lacks control at times, but he gets by with a deceptive delivery. Once he cleans up his mechanics a bit, as well as refines his secondary stuff, the upside is huge.
Joseph Gatto, RHP, St. Augustine Prep (NJ)
The 6’-5”, 210-pound right-hander turned heads by gaining nearly 10 mph on his fastball over the last year and now can sling it 95 mph with explosive, late life. He showed great command of his secondary stuff at the Perfect game Nationals, and he still has a ton of projection due to his size and arm action. Scouts reportedly were raving by his efficiency and feel for his stuff. Committed to North Carolina.
Cobi Johnson, RHP, James Mitchell HS (FL)
At 6’-4” and 180 pounds, the right-hander has the ideal size for a frontline starter. His fastball has touched 93 mph, and he adds a solid curveball. His change-up, like most prep pitchers, is still developing, but he shows a good feel for pitching, and his athleticism will help with his progression. He has shown very good command of his stuff and had 103 K/14 BB over 71 innings as a junior. He also hit .426/.508/.703 over 30 games with 18 stolen bases. His velocity does drop off in later innings, but he should gain more stamina as he fills out his frame. Committed to Florida State.
Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (FL)
The 6’-3”, 210-pound right-hander flashes a plus fastball that touches 94 mph with late life, thanks to his easy delivery and strong build. He also features a filthy, upper-70s curveball that may be one of the best in his class, as well as a slider that looked like a future plus pitch at The Tournament of Stars in North Carolina. He has put his name on the map over the last month and has huge upside due to his size, easy delivery and stuff. Committed to Florida State.
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