By Todd Johnson
When I begin planning this post, I was not sure at all who I was going to cover other than Wake Forest pitcher Rayne Supple, a former 2015 Cubs draft pick. The thing about college pitchers this year is there’s a group of four or five that are ranked very high and then there’s a smattering of arms after that. For example, in MLB Pipeline’s top 50 draft prospects, they have four college arms in the top 15, one in the 20s, a couple in the 30s, and three in the 40s.
For the Cubs, the odds of them selecting a college arm before the third round is not very good. Right now, though, there are just too many high-quality college bats available in the mid-20s and the rest of day one. The Cubs are more likely to go college bat. Then plan B would be to get a high school pitcher or a high school hitter with their other 4 picks in the first 100.
No college arms seem to be rising rapidly other than Tristan Beck from Stanford. He will probably end up being ranked in the late 20s or early 30s. After missing all of 2017, the Stanford junior has put himself in a good position for the draft. He’s currently striking out about one better per inning but he has struggled against some high-profile teams in Oregon and Texas. And last night, he could not get it done against conference rival UCLA. If his performance doesn’t improve, he will probably drop like a stone. He still has two years of eligibility left. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him use it to improve his draft stock. Then again, he might be ready before he gets injured again.
I still like David LeBron, even as a bullpen piece. The University of Tampa pitcher has been one of the most elite pitchers in Division II baseball this spring. He has great command and he misses bats. Heading into Friday night’s game, he had struck out 82 in 53 innings. He ran into trouble for the first time all year last night giving up 5 earned runs. It was really his first blemish in an outstanding year. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter if he’s a D II prospect or not, that’s a lot of strikeouts. He is looking more and more like an excellent day two option to take in rounds 3-10.
As for Rayne Supple, the Cubs originally selected Supple right out of high school in 2015. He was the Vermont player of the year then. He chose to go to Wake Forest instead. His career has been plodding along until this year. The 6’3” right handed pitcher has taken off in the closer role.
His coach said the following of him before the season began on his Wake Forest bio:
“Rayne has made a huge jump from last season to this one. A power right-handed arm with good life on his fastball and a plus breaking ball, Rayne could see himself starting on the weekends or anchoring our bullpen in leverage innings. He is an excellent athlete who is expected to have a break-out season.”
Supple has a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings with 27 Ks. He has walked 14, but his batting average against is an amazing .155. So far, Supple has 4 saves.
Supple did do some starting last summer in the New England Collegiate League. He made 5 starts and appeared in 3 other games as a reliever with a 3.67 ERA with similar strikeout and walk ratios.
While the Cubs did select Supple in the 37th round in 2015, it was evident on draft day in 2015 that he was going to go to Wake Forest. Now, success finally seems to be coming together for him. He could relieve or he could start at the next level as he does have a good frame to build upon. If the Cubs do re-draft Supple, they will need his consent per MLB draft rules. More than likely, Supple could be taken in the top 20 rounds, maybe even day two. He does have one more year of eligibility left. He is not a sure thing to leave college.
Now that there are less than two months to go to the draft, there will be a lot of movement on draft boards and new updates on mock drafts.
As for me, I am going to solely focus on the minors for about 6 weeks now as both high schools and colleges hit the meaty parts of their seasons. Around the end of May, I will evaluate the Cubs’ past 6 draft classes and begin looking at just exactly who the Cubs will take at #24. Odds are that player has already been profiled.