Brendon Little

Looking at the Cubs Draft a Few Days Later: Development Will Be the Key

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By Todd Johnson

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Now that there is some distance between me searching for basic information on draft picks the day of the draft and finding out detailed information, I am beginning to like, for the most part, what the Cubs did on draft day. Overall, it was a good draft haul that is built on ascending players, some established arms, and a couple of high risk players.

Here is who I like best from the three days and a brief statement why I like them.

Brendon Little – P – Manatee – 97 from the left. Any questions?

Image may contain: one or more people and textAlex Lange – P – LSU – I think the Cubs got a steal when he dropped to them. He is one of the top college arms who with a little pro coaching could really take off. He already has a plus curve.

Keegan Thompson – SP – Auburn – Experience, Experience, Experience

Nelson Velazquez – OF – Puerto Rico – He has tools that could develop into a top flight outfielder with power and speed

Austin Filiere – 3B – MIT – Track record of power and he went to MIT

Chris Carrier – OF – Memphis – Sculpted body who might have lurking power in his body somewhere waiting for the Cubs coaches to draw it out.

Brian Glowicki – RP – Minnesota – Experience closing in a power conference

Luis Vazquez – SS – Puerto Rico – Like Velazquez, he’s young, moldable, and has a lot of raw tools.

Jared Young – 2B – Old Dominion – He comes from a good baseball school. The more I read, the more I like about him.

Image may contain: 1 person, textBrandon Hughes – OF- Michigan State – The Cubs can take his swing and adjust it. He hit for average and he has the body to hit for power and natural speed.

Casey Ryan – RP – Hawaii – He’s a big man with a power arm at the back of the pen.

Brendan King – SP – Holy Cross – Those Ivy League guys seem to do well for the Cubs.

Darius Vines – SP – Oxnard – He’s a toolsy player but the Cubs like his pitching more than his hitting. Hopefully the Cubs can sign him.

I am sure there will be some prospects who surprise everyone, too. The Cubs scouts have shown that they can find some gems in later rounds.

Now comes the hard part – signing them. The Cubs should be able to sign between 25-28 out of the 41 picks from my calculations. You need to be following @Savermetrics on Twitter, he has a pretty good collection of tweets, hometown articles, and quotes about what the players’ intentions are.

Here is what I think will happen between now and the final day to sign on July 15 (I have also heard July 7).

Definitely Signing
Brendon Little, Alex Lange, Cory Abbott,  Keegan Thompson, Erich Uelmen, Nelson Velazquez, Ricky Tyler Thomas, Austin Filiere, Chris Carrier, Brian Glowicki, Rollie Lacy, Austin Upshaw, Jared Young, Brandon Hughes,  Casey Ryan, Chris Singleton, Brendan KIng, Sean Barry, Brady Miller, Mitch Stophel, Jacob Steffens, Ramsay Romano, Cam Balego, and Jeffrey Passantino

Pretty Sure
Luis Vazquez and Peyton Remy

50/50
Ben Hecht and Braxton Light,

Unsure
Jeremy Estrada, Skyler Messinger, Darius Vines, and Kier Meredith

No Chance
Bryce Bonin, Hunter Ruth, Joe Donavan, Ben Ramirez, Tanner Allen, Alex Cornwell, Russell Smith, Cooper Coldiron

I will keep you posted on who signs and when they debut. Eugene should get the most players while South Bend will get a few. It is rare that draft pick goes to Myrtle Beach, but it does happen occasionally the first year. The last time it happened was Dave Berg.

Cubs Strike with Two Pitchers in the First Round

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By Todd Johnson

Jason McLeod said the Cubs would focus on pitching and he wasn’t kidding. The Cubs usd the 27th pick to select lefty Brendon Little and the 30th pick to select righty Alex Lange. Both players have pitched significant innings this year with Little at 85 and Lange at 111 so far. Little could pitch some in relief this year in either Eugene or South Bend, while Lange will probably be shut down after the College World Series, much like Thomas Hatch was in 2016.

I really like both selections. I think both have some serious upside, but they also need some work. Lange, to me, is a steal. A known perfectionist, he is not going to take long. I think with the coaches the Cubs have in the system, he could improve greatly. As a result, the Cubs may have gotten a top ten talent at #30.

Here are some brief profiles and stats. Click on the link for previous articles about them.


Image may contain: 1 person, textBrendon Little – State JC of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota
Earlier Post on Him
6’2” and 195 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Strengths
He can bring it at 97
Young
Did I mention a 97 mph fastball?
Left handed
Tight curve with projection

Areas of Concern
Starter or Reliever?
Delivery

Here is what MLB.com said of Little

Little pitched very well in the Cape Cod League this summer and has continued to show premium velocity in junior college this spring. He was touching 97 mph in fall ball and has kept that up during the regular season in Florida. He complements it with a true 12-to-6 power curve which flashes plus on occasion, and he’ll also show some feel for his changeup, though it’s behind the other two pitches. While he has a very quick and clean arm delivery, his command comes and goes and his fastball can be flat at times, though that hasn’t kept him from missing a ton of bats this spring.

The lack of track record, as well as the inconsistency with his delivery and command, might concern some, with scouts wondering if he’s a starter or a reliever long term. This kind of arm strength from the left side is hard to find, so teams won’t too long to take him off the board.


Image may contain: one or more people and textAlex Lange – Louisiana State University
Earlier Post on Him
6’3″ and 198 pounds
Bats Right
Throws Right

Strengths
Power Curve
Experience
High Floor
Pitchability

Areas of Concern
End of the Year Dropoff
Velocity Dip

Here is what MLB.com said of the right hander.

Lange has two plus pitches in a fastball that usually ranged from 92-96 mph and a power curveball that stood out as the best on the U.S. college national team last summer. He has a strong build and repeatedly has demonstrated the ability to maintain his stuff into the later innings. Lange is showing better feel for his changeup after emphasizing the development of the pitch during his time with Team USA.

Lange sometimes gets himself in trouble by overthrowing and not staying online to the plate. Both of those bad habits cost him control, which along with some effort in his delivery has some scouts wondering if he might wind up as a reliever in the long run. Lange’s track record as a successful starter means he’ll get every opportunity to make it as a mid-rotation option.

More information will be forthcoming in the next few days about each prospect including thoughts from Jason McLeod.

Who Should the Cubs Take Tonight?

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By Todd Johnson

By the end of the night, the Cubs will add three new top prospects to the organization. Tonight’s selections should come from a tier of prospects that stretch about 50 players long. They should be able to get prospects at 27 and 30 that are just as good as a prospect number 10. Check back tonight starting about 7 central as I will be blogging live. Just keep hitting the refresh button to update.

Can you narrow it down to two or three names?
No. I just cannot.

I think there’s gonna be a lot of players moving up-and-down draft boards this year as signability becomes the biggest factor in selecting a player. Usually, talent and projectability are weighed when selecting a prospect. Given the lack of differentiation between those two this year, money seems to becoming a number one issue. Don’t be surprised to see a guy rocket into the first round from the 40s because of his desire to sign for a certain amount of money.

What are the Cubs looking for?
Jason McLeod is going to tell you they’re going to pick the best player available. I truly believe that most times. Over the last five years they’ve taken a bat with their first round picks. This year, there is no one available who fits the kind of bat that they would want. As a result, I think the door is open for them to take a pitcher or a hitter. Last year they took 26 pitchers out of 38 picks. This year McLeod says they are going to concentrate on pitching again. I don’t think they’re gonna leave any stone unturned at any level to find projectable pitching.   

How about five or six names for tonight?
Will 10 do?

Hitters

Nick Allen Could Possibly Make It To 27

Nick Allen – He’s a baseball rat who is the best defensive shortstop in the draft. And he can hit even though he’s only 5’8″.

Heliot Ramos – He has the most upside of any prep outfielder, but he has some issues as to what his floor really is. He shines in games but struggles in practice.

Mark Vientos – I love this kid and his big, bad swing. The question is where he is going to play. At 6’4″, he’s probably a little too big for short, he may be destined for the outfield.

Garrett Mitchell – I really like him a lot. He does a lot of things well including play CF. The potential for power is there, but I really like that he can play defense, hit, and run. I think he’s perfect for round 2.

Hagen Danner – He could pitch or play catcher. Wherever he has played, he wins.


Pitchers
Brendon Little – He seems more destined to be a left-handed pitcher at it and than a starter. If he is taking in the first round, it will be to start.   

Nate Pearson – I think there are still a lot of unknowns about him. But 100 mph is a 100 mph. Word is he is still moving up the rankings.

Sam Carlson – He is from Minnesota and is rising through the draft ranks quickly I have seen him in the teens, 20s, and 30s. He has a big frame with room to grow.  

Mike Mercado – Like Carlson, he is rising fast. He is 6’6″, a size the Cubs like.    

Alex Scherff – I like him in the second round a lot. I don’t think he’s going to be around which means the Cubs could take him above slot to sign him for less than they would a normal first round pick.  


Knowing my luck, the Cubs will select someone else.

My prediction is Allen and Little with either Vientos and Ramos as back ups. As early as this morning, Johnathan Mayo of MLB.com suggested Drew Rasmussen of Oregon State might be in play for the Cubs. You never know with this year’s draft. It’s going to be a wild first night.

Draft Profile Review – Cubs Have Lots of Choices at #27 and #30

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By Todd Johnson

Since December, Cubs Central has looked at 27 possible prospects for the Cubs to select with the 27th and 30th picks in the summer’s MLB draft. We looked at a variety of high school, junior college, and college picks. Some of the profiles could even be second or third picks.

Below is a complete listing of the possible future Cubs covered this off-season.

Prep players
Ricardo de la Torre
Mark Vientos
Nick Storz
Mitchell Stone
Garrett Mitchell
Hagan Danner
Nick Allen
Nick Pratto
Alex Scherff

Junior College
Brendon Little

College Prospects
Colton Hock
Leftovers from the 2016 Draft
Lipscomb 3
Trio of South Carolina Arms
Jake Burger
David Peterson
Ricky Tyler Thomas
Kyle Serrano

The 2017 MLB draft is pretty deep. The Cubs are going to get to quality players in the first round and will likely find two more from the second and third round. As it pertains to the first round, I have a pretty good idea who I would pick at 27 and 30?

The college bat in most years would be the safest bet for Jason McLeod and Theo to take. The problem is that in 2017, that is the weakest area so far when it comes to players with high ceilings, especially in the college ranks. Sure, they are going to find some bats in later rounds who have some high floors, but the Cubs are not going to find a college hitter as they have in the past.

Mark Vientos would immediately be a top 10 Cubs prospect

What they will find will be plenty of high school position players and college pitchers ripe for the taking. To me, junior college pitcher of Brandon Little might be the surest thing as someone who throws 97 from the left. But he’s not the biggest talent. I think prepster Mark Vientos has the highest ceiling out of all the prospects we profiled. I also think Oregon pitcher David Peterson could also project well. Peterson has been on a roll lately. Last night he went 7 IP, 1 ER, and had 7 Ks.

I would be leery of selecting a prep arm with either of the first two picks. Come the second round, the two players I like the most are Brady Puckett from  Lipscomb University and Ryan Johnson from South Carolina. Both are power arms from power programs. I don’t know if Puckett could last to the end of the second round as a starter. Johnson, however, as a reliever, will surely be there waiting.

I like Johnson’s powerful closer arm a lot and I think he could move fast as a prospect. The others, meanwhile, all will take time, even Peterson. And I think that’s the big thing I see in this year’s draft. Even though there’s a lot of depth, there’s also a lot of development that needs to happen as most of the top prospects are high school kids.

Draft Profile: Brendon Little – He Could Be a Golden Lefty

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By Todd Johnson

Due to Baseball America’s Cubs prospect list being released on Friday, I moved up this week’s draft profile to today. The draft profile will return next Saturday, the 14th.

2017-draft-header

This Week’s Profile
Brendon Little – State JC of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota
6’2” and 195 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

“He has tools you can’t teach like a fastball that touches 97 from the left side. He also still has a lot of projection left which you don’t find often at his age. He could gain a tick in his FB with a more downward plane on his delivery. That would also help his command, too.”

That is what one former AL scout told me about Brendon Little. Currently, Little is far from perfect. However, his floor is a nice 97 mph fastball. His ceiling, on the other hand, could be much, much better with improved mechanics, a repeatable delivery, which both could make his secondaries average to plus pitches.

As for his story, Little has been on a very short and very strange trip since the 2015 draft when he was a high school senior…

When you only throw four innings, you only throw four innings. Such was the case of Brendon Little in 2016. The 2015 draft pick committed to attend UNC and did so rather than accept a pro contract. Little did Little know that he would only see four innings as a freshman at North Carolina.

What happened next is something that I like about Little. He pulled himself up by the bootstraps and had an impressive summer in the Cape Cod league. His fastball touched 97 consistently and his curve and change flashed some potential.

There is still some work to be done. Little did not return to North Carolina this past fall. Instead, he is now at a junior college in Florida. In most videos,  Little’s wind up and delivery is all over the place. And most of that comes from the lower half. His foot placement and plant need to be cleaned up quite a bit, which might be one reason he’s been wild in the past. In addition, he throws mostly upright without much bend in the back. Some sites said that he cleaned that up some and he is now working on his breaking ball and change. He will be a key pitcher to watch this spring.

Strengths:
Fastball is elite – mid to upper 90s
Outstanding summer at the Cape
Curve could be plus
Strong

doudicanpatAreas of Concern:
Command and Control of Secondaries
Foot placement and movement

What Others Say
Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo

Little has serious arm strength from the left side. In the Cape, he was 93-96 mph with his fastball and touched 97 mph this fall. Using a straight up-and-down delivery, there’s not a whole lot of downward angle, and his fastball can be flat at times. He uses a hard, true 12-to-6 curve effectively and a new changeup he showed in the fall looked good in a brief look. His arm is quick and clean, and he still misses bats despite the lack of bend in his delivery.

Little’s command can be spotty, and he hasn’t always repeated his delivery well. The lack of track record will concern some, but if he can show that three-pitch mix in the spring, teams that believe he can start will give him a very long look.

While he doesn’t have a lot of physical projection left, 97 is 97, regardless of which side of the rubber he’s throwing from. Teams are going to gamble on that and I think the Cubs could, too. If he did clean up his mechanics, his value grows. The Cubs could have a golden opportunity for a power lefty with either pick.

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