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Chicago Cubs Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: 3B Ryan Gripp (3) showed power and solid hitting skills at short-season Eugene, batting .308-12-48. More surprising was OF Ben Johnstone’s (26) .333-1-11 debut.

Best Athlete: OF Michael Mallory (2) demonstrated above-average speed and has a power hitter’s frame at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. Mallory, who hit .242-4-15 in the Rookie-level Arizona League, played center field this year but likely will end up in right field. LHP Tim Lavery (11) is a former Illinois quarterback.

Best Hitter: Gripp is the best hitter for now, but the Cubs believe that Mallory will have the highest ceiling once he recognizes pitches better.

Best Power: Gripp reminds scouts physically of Jeff Bagwell with his Popeye-like arms and quick stroke. OF Condor Cash (12) has excellent raw power but must develop the rest of his game.

Fastest Runner: Johnstone, the Ivy League player of the year, showed terrific speed and may have put himself on the prospect charts. 2B Syketo Anderson (13) is also extremely fast but must learn to use his speed better.

Best Defensive Player: Johnstone is a legitimate center fielder with excellent range and more than enough arm strength.

Best Fastball: RHP Ben Christensen’s (1) fastball tops out at 95-96 mph, enough for the Cubs to move him to the high Class A Florida State League.

Most Intriguing Background: Christensen won’t soon escape the stigma of a highly-publicized pregame beaning of Evansville on-deck hitter Anthony Molina, thus ending both of their college careers. Anderson’s brother is Phillies 2B Marlon Anderson.

Closest to the Majors: Christensen will be given every opportunity to advance quickly, especially as he sheds the rust from not pitching for two months earlier in the year.

The One That Got Away: RHP Todd Deininger (5) was considered a risky pick because his strong academic record meant he would have to be signed away from going to college, but the Cubs took a chance on the local high school star anyway. He is attending Texas A&M and is the only player in the first 14 rounds not signed by the Cubs.

Best Non-Draft Sign: 1B Hee Choi, a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder, made his U.S. debut in the Class A Midwest League and showed excellent power and a mature hitting approach. The South Korean could be on the fast track to Chicago.

Summary: The Cubs took a lot of flak for drafting Christensen but seem nonplused by the criticism. Mallory’s development could be the key to the overall success of the draft class.

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