Draft Report Cards: Chicago Cubs

The Cubs surprised draft observers by taking Simpson 16th overall, but they see a four-pitch righty with plus stuff who'll move quickly. Szczur and Wells could be steals, as could several players in double-digit rounds.
Bonus Spending: $4.7 million

BEST PURE HITTER: OF Matt Szczur (5) began his pro career with a 21-game hitting streak and batted .347/.414/.465 in his debut. » BEST POWER HITTER: With a short swing and an explosive bat, OF Reggie Golden (2) has close to plus-plus raw power. » FASTEST RUNNER:: Szczur can get from the right side of the plate to first base in under four seconds. Villanova football coach Andy Talley says Szczur is the fastest player he's ever had, faster even than longtime NFL star Brian Westbrook. » BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: C Micah Gibbs (3) was the best receiver in the draft. Elliot Soto (15) has the range, hands and arm to make any play at shortstop, though his bat remains a question.


BEST FASTBALL: RHP Hayden Simpson (1) missed the summer and instructional league because of a bad case of mono, but Chicago saw him repeatedly hit 96-97 mph in an NCAA Division II playoff game. RHPs Ben Wells (7) and Aaron Kurcz (10) both can touch 95, and Wells may have more velocity to come. » BEST SECONDARY PITCH: Several Cubs draftees have good breaking balls, led by LHP Cam Greathouse's (8) curveball and Wells' slider. RHP Austin Reed (12) has an advanced changeup for a high schooler.


BEST PRO DEBUT: Szczur or Kurcz, who had a 1.98 ERA, nine saves and 48 strikeouts in 27 innings, mostly in the short-season Northwest League. 2B Pierre LePage (13) was an NWL all-star after hitting .345 and leading the league with 20 doubles. » BEST ATHLETE: Szczur is also a wide receiver who earned MVP honors as Villanova won the NCAA I-AA championship game in 2009. He signed for $100,000 and will get an additional $500,000 if he makes a written commitment to baseball before the 2011 NFL combine. Golden has five-tool potential. » MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: Szczur generated more headlines in May when he donated bone marrow to a 1-year-old girl battling leukemia. Unsigned LHP Bryan Harper's (27) brother Bryce was the draft's No. 1 overall pick. Unsigned 1B Benito Santiago Jr.'s (31) father was a five-time all-star and three-time Gold Glove catcher. Unsigned RHP Trey Nielsen's (42) dad Scott also played in the big leagues. » CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Simpson or Kurcz. » BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: Kurcz, who got overlooked in high school and overshadowed by Bryce Harper and a talented pitching staff at the JC of Southern Nevada. Chicago is enthused by several late-round sleepers, including Reed, 3B Dustin Geiger (24) and RHP Dallas Beeler (41). » THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: OF Ivan DeJesus (6), who has solid all-around tools, didn't come close to signing and headed to Alabama-Birmingham. RHP/OF Brooks Pinckard (18), a draft-eligible sophomore who returned to Baylor, has a fastball that reaches 95 mph, but Chicago liked his plus-plus speed even more.