Simpson Gets Pleasant Surprise From Cubs
When people see Hayden Simpson pitch, they likely think he's trying to imitate Tim Lincecum.
Lincecum and his unorthodox delivery, complete with a long stride, has turned the 175-pounder into a strikeout machine thanks to some wicked velocity because of that delivery.
Simpson, who was taken 16th by the Cubs in the first round of the draft June 7, has a similar delivery, but it's not because of Lincecum.
"I've always done that throughout my career," said Simpson, who is 6 feet, 175 pounds. "I see a similarity in the way we both use our whole bodies. We use everything we have."
Simpson certainly put up Lincecum-like numbers in college with Southern Arkansas.
In three college seasons, he became one of the top Division II players in the nation.
He was 35-2, 2.39 with 323 strikeouts in 271 innings. He notched 12 complete games and seven shutouts. He won the Gulf Coast Conference Pitcher of the week honor a league-record seven times.
While the 21-year-old posted a 13-1, 1.81 mark this season, the major league scouts were getting interested. He heard from some people that he could be a second-through-fifth round pick. He was stunned to get the call in the first round.
"It was a shock to me," he said. "I was actually sitting in a chair in my living room with a laptop computer. I was with a couple of my friends and family. We were just sitting there watching the draft. When I heard my name called, everyone was shocked.
"Then it got real crazy from there."
Simpson said his best pitch is a slider but he also has a four-seam fastball, a circle changeup and a 12-to-6 curveball.
"I feel Hayden is a potential starter who has four average-to-plus pitches and is very athletic with a good feel for pitching," said Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken. "I think we're fortunate to have received really good coverage from our scouts with this selection."
Simpson won a ton of honors and awards during his college career. Some, however, may dismiss some of his gaudy numbers because he played Division II.
"There are a lot of great players who wind up in Division II one way or another," Simpson said. "I've played against Division I players. The Division II players are just as confident as Division I players but they just might not be as big or as strong.''
• Through early June, Double-A Tennessee's Tony Campana led all Cubs minor leaguers with a .348 average. He was hitting .371 against right-handers and .376 in home games.
• Triple-A Iowa hit just 17 homers in 29 games in May, which was second worst in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. But they opened June on a much better note, hitting six homers in the fist six games.