Cubs open Day 2 with selection of high school righty
Note: I’ve noticed questions in the comments section about college commitments. Like other sports, a verbal commitment is non-binding. No National Letters of Intent have been signed this early. The college is simply a fall-back option for players if they don’t get the bonus/team/situation they’re seeking. If the club is unable to come to terms with a player, it receives a compensation pick in next year’s Draft. Hope that clears everything up.
The Cubs began day two of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft by selecting high school right-hander Duane Underwood with their second-round pick (No. 67 overall).
Underwood, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder, is out of Pope High School in Georgia. He will turn 18 on July 20.
He is committed to Georgia.
“There are times he looked like one of the better high school arms in the Draft class, a guy who belonged in that conversation with a lot of the arms that went yesterday [in the first round and Compensation Round A],” MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo said. “Other times he looked lost, like he didn’t belong in the second round.”
Underwood’s fastball sits in the low 90s with the ability to reach 95-96. He also throws a late-breaking curveball and deceptive changeup,
His poise, athleticism and knowledge of the game show potential to help him evolve as a player, but he isn’t yet a finished product.
“Some days he threw 96, 98, other days he couldn’t get the ball anywhere in the strike zone,” Baseball America’s Jim Callis said. “There is some upside here.”
Round 3, Ryan McNeil, RHP, Nipomo (Calif.) High School
McNeil is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander who went 7-1 with eight complete games in 11 appearances last season. He posted a 1.40 ERA and struck out 84 with a .182 average against in 65 innings. He is committed to Long Beach State.
“Good athlete, good pitching frame,” Mayo said. “He’s got a ways to go, a little more of a project.”
Round 4, Josh Conway, RHP, Coastal Carolina
Conway’s junior season at Coastal Carolina ended after nine games because of an elbow injury, but the righty already has underwent Tommy John surgery. He was 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings before his injury.
Conway is 6-foot-1, 175 pounds and went 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 77 innings as a sophomore. He also was named to the Cape Cod League All-Star team last summer, going 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.
He was originally selected out of high school by the Braves in the 42nd round of the 2009 Draft.
“Let him rehab him with your own staff and watch him over the course of that time and then take your time with him and it could end up being a nice value for this draft,” Mayo said.
Conway throws a fastball, slider and changeup, all of which can be solid average pitches.
“Here’s another upside play, who could have been a sandwich or second-round guy if not for the injury,” Callis said.
Round 5, Anthony Prieto, LHP, Americas (Texas) High School
Prieto is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound high school lefty out of Texas. He missed half of the season because of a forearm strain, but reportedly hit 97 mph last year, Callis said.
“This is a guy who’s relatively new to pitching and has shown some pretty good things,” Mayo said. “He’s another guy who isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but because he’s a lefty gets an extra look from scouts.”
Round 6, Carl “Trey” Lang, RHP, Gateway (Ariz.) Community College
Lang was originally a two-way player before focusing more on pitching this season. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound righty projects as a reliever.
“Words can’t even explain the feelings I’m going through right now! Blessed to have such great family and friends!” Lang tweeted (@T23Lang).
Round 7, Stephen Bruno, 3B, Virginia
Bruno, a right-handed batter, played all over the infield at Virginia, hitting .370 with six home runs and 23 doubles doubles this season. A redshirt sophomore, he played only seven games last year because of an injury.
Round 8, Michael Heesch, LHP, South Carolina-Beaufort
Heesch, Chicago native who pitched at Illinois-Chicago before transferring to South Carolina-Beaufort two years ago, is a 6-foot-5, 245-pound lefty. He went 9-3 with a 2.21 ERA this season and had 118 strikeouts in 122 1/3 innings while walking only 13.
Round 9, Chadd Krist, C, California
Krist is 5-foot-11, 190-pound catcher who hit .294 with four home runs and 19 doubles for the Bears this season.
Round 10, Chad Martin, RHP, Indiana
Martin is a 6-foot-7, 230-pound righty who posted a 4.79 ERA in 19 games (nine starts) this season.
– Cash Kruth