Draft Day 2012

A little different looking First-Year Players’ Draft in 2012, as MLB shortened the festivities to 40 rounds – with new rules that made it tougher for teams to over-slot players (say paying a 20th Round player 3rd Round money).

For the parent club of the Boise Hawks, the Chicago Cubs, it was the first draft of the Theo Epstein era – with the team stocking up on pitching talent, taking a total of 21 pitchers and 21 position players.  F0r fans in the Treasure Valley, a strong pitching staff could be in order, as 15 of the arms are players with either four-year college or junior college experience. (Click here for Cubs 2012 Draft Roster)

Leading the group that may be donning a Hawks jersey is supplemental first-round pick Pierce Johnson (pictured right) of Missouri State.  Johnson posted a 2.53 ERA for the Bears, striking out 119 batters – ranking sixth in the Division I in strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

I saw eighth-round pick Michael Heesch pitch at the NAIA World Series in Lewiston two weeks ago, as the South Carolina-Beaufort lefty was stellar.  The big 6-5 southpaw went 9-3 with 118 strikeouts for the Sand Sharks – pitching for Brian Lewallyn, the son of Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator, Dennis Lewallyn.

The Cubs loaded up on college seniors who should be easy signs – 6-7 righty Chad Martin out of Indiana, righty Justin Amlung out of Louisville, RHP Eddie Orozco out of UC-Riverside, RHP Tyler Bremer out of Baylor, and RHP Austin Pentecost out of Lewiston’s Lewis-Clark State.  The older pitchers will be a nice balance for the youth selected in the 2011 Draft that are currently in Extended Spring and the bevy of talent from Latin America.

The position players selected were primarily high school players – who typically spend their seasons in the Arizona Rookie League.  Seventh-Round pick Stephen Bruno (pictured left) on paper reminds me of fan favorite, Pierre LePage – a 5-9 infielder with gap power, hitting .362 during his senior season at Virginia.  Two catchers from the West – Cal’s Chadd Krist and Nevada’s Carlos Escobar may head to Boise, both are college seniors that had similar numbers, though Escobar had better numbers throwing out base stealers.

Three small school guys may also see time in Boise – local product OF Izaac Garsez (pictured right), who had a stellar four-year career at The College of Idaho, hitting .389 with eight homers, 20 doubles, and 53 RBI as a senior, leading all of college baseball with 12 triples.  Big Jake Rogers, a first-baseman (the only first-baseman drafted by the Cubs) from D-II power, Mount Olive, hit 17 homers and drove in 60 this season, while middle infielder Tim Saunders, from D-III champ Marietta College, hit .441 with 19 doubles, seven triples, and 48 RBI – swiping 41 bags.

With youthful talent in Mesa – plus players who have played at a higher level before (pitchers Willengton Cruz, Bryce Shafer, Roderik Pichardo, Pete Levitt, Ramon Garcia, James Pugliese, and Jin-Young Kim), and position players who have done the same (Willson Contreras, Eduardo Gonzalez, and Marco Hernandez) – it will be interesting to see how Oneri Fleita and the Cubs brass determine the Hawks roster.

The staff in Boise will receive an initial roster from the Cubs either late Saturday or early Sunday – with a finalized roster to be released to the media on Monday.  However, the roster on Monday may or may not be intact by the time the Hawks hit the field on Friday night at Salem-Keizer.

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