Big 12 Pitcher of Year, Killebrew's grandson among eight picks on Day 2
By Cash Kruth
The Cubs finally joined the party that is Major League Baseball's 2016 Draft on Friday after sitting out Day 1 because of offseason free-agent signings.
Chicago opened the day by taking Oklahoma State right-hander Thomas Hatch in the third round (No. 104 overall) in what turned out to be a theme. The Cubs used seven of their eight selections on college pitchers, all right-handers, with their lone other pick being Bethune-Cookman catcher Michael Cruz.
"Our focus was to identify pitching, power pitching, guys who have preformed in college, guys we think can come in and make and impact on the organization," Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod said. "Understanding where we were in the Draft and where we were standing, we feel good after Day 2."
The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at noon CT.
Below is a look at each of the club's selections:
Round 3 (No. 104 overall), Thomas Hatch, RHP, Oklahoma State
Hatch is a horse. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound right-hander tossed three consecutive shutouts this spring to earn Big 12 Pitcher of the Year honors. That stretch, as well as a season in which he went 7-2 with a 2.16 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 16 starts, alleviated concerns after he missed all of 2015 with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament that didn't require surgery.
The biggest change in Hatch this season was dropping his arm slot to low three-quarters, rather than over the top. The adjustment added life to his stuff, which consists of a fastball that sits 91-94 mph, a slider that can be plus and a solid changeup for which he has great feel.
"The impressive thing for Thomas, I mean he had to change his delivery and change his arm slot to do some things to free his arm up so it would stay healthy and he wasn't muscling the ball and those types of things," Oklahoma State pitching coach Rob Walton told Baseball America earlier this month. "He deserves a lot of credit for maintaining that new delivery for the first time."
McLeod said the club was confident in the medicals it received, as well as Hatch's week-to-week performance.
"We're aware that it's in the past, but we're confident he'll be healthy going forward," McLeod said. "It's always a risk, but knowing all the factors and getting to know the player and how he competes every week, we felt very good to get him there."
Round 4 (No. 134 overall), Tyson Miller, RHP California Baptist
Miller is proof that elite collegiate talent can be found at any level. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound right-hander put up good numbers as a sophomore against his Division II competition, but saw his stock rise after doing the same in the Cape Cod League last summer.
The D-II schedule -- in which most of Miller's starts came midweek, rather than on the weekends with Division I powers -- helped him get seen by more scouts in Riverside, Calif. He delivered, going 9-3 with a 2.27 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) and fanning 92 in 107 innings.
Miller -- who sports a fastball up to 93 mph, a decent slider and average changeup -- is the highest-drafted Cal Baptist player since the Dodgers selected Trevor Oaks in the seventh round of the '14 Draft.
Round 5 (164th overall), Bailey Clark, RHP, Duke
Clark entered the season as a top 50 prospect, but was in Duke's bullpen by mid-April. He's big -- 6-foot-4, 200 pounds -- which is part of the reason he struggles to repeat what scouts consider a high-effort delivery.
Although he has the frame to remain a starter, some think his delivery will force him to the bullpen. His mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider should play in either role.
Round 6 (194th overall), Chad Hockin, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
Hockin, the grandson of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, is interesting in that he has been a reliever dating to high school. He has closer-type stuff, featuring a fastball up to 97 mph and a slider touching 89 mph.
He didn't do as well this season as he did in the Cape last summer, but that was mostly considered to be due to missing time to minor injuries.
Round 7 (224th overall), Michael Cruz, C, Bethune-Cookman
Cruz is a 5-foot-11, 210-pound catcher who mashed for Bethune-Cookman after spending two seasons at Clarendon College, where he was 2014 second-team All-American.
He hit .325/.461/.605 with 16 home runs and 41 RBIs this season. The power stands out, but Cruz also has good plate discipline as he walked (38) more than he struck out (25).
Round 8 (254th overall), Stephen Ridings, RHP, Haverford (Penn.) College
Haverford College is a small Division III school with an enrollment of fewer than 1,200, but there's nothing miniature about the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Ridings. He has a fastball that can run up to 95 mph, but he needs to work on his delivery and offspeed pitches. He was 6-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 11 starts this season, striking out 87 in 65 1/3 innings.
Round 9 (284th overall), Duncan Robinson, RHP, Dartmouth
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Robinson was named 2015 Ivy League Pitcher of the Year as a junior. His ERA rose from 2.62 last season to 3.28 this year, but he struck out more batters (73 compared with 52) and threw seven complete games.
His fastball sits 88-92 mph but his curveball is his best pitch. His grandfather, William, was a three-sport athlete at Northern Illinois (football, basketball and track).
Round 10 (314th overall), Dakota Mekkes, RHP, Michigan State
Mekkes certainly has impressive numbers. He's a 6-foot-7, 250-pound right-hander who posted a 1.74 ERA in 28 appearances for the Spartans this year. He allowed 26 hits and struck out a whopping 96 batters in 57 innings, but also issued 41 walks. He throws his 90-93 mph fastball and slurvy breaking ball from a lower slot, which makes it difficult for batters to pick up.
Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.