Image credit: Nico Hoerner (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
Best Pure Hitter: OF Cole Roederer (2s) showed an advanced feel to hit for a prep player, including an ability to use the whole field and a willingness to hang in against lefthanders. He showed an intriguing combination of power and speed in his pro debut … The Cubs liked Stanford SS Nico Hoerner (1) for his ability to put bat on ball. He whiffed no more than 29 times in each of his three seasons. He also showed an his ability to make every at-bat competitive. His pro debut was cut short by an elbow injury just one game after a promotion to low Class A South Bend.
Best Power: Southern Miss 3B Luke Reynolds (10) took a circuitous path to the draft, but he has plus raw power now and put forth a 1.250 OPS in his final season in college … OF Brennen Davis’ (2) strength, athleticism and lofted swing path also give him chance to develop above-average home run power as he gets older.
Fastest Baserunner: OF Edmond Americaan (35) greatly improved his game with one year at Chipola JC. His toolset includes 70-grade speed, which he used to steal 11 bases in a 30-game pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League … Liberty OF D.J. Artis (7) isn’t far behind Americaan, clocking in with plus speed on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.
Best Defensive Player: The Cubs got a polished infielder when they took INF Andy Weber (5) out of Virginia. Weber, who spent time at shortstop, third base and second base during his time with the Cavaliers, has smooth hands, a quick transfer and an accurate arm that rates as a 60 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.
Best Athlete: Davis also starred in basketball in high school, earning defensive player of the year honor in his home state of Arizona. His mother, Jakki, was a long jumper at the University of Washington.
Best Fastball: Louisville RHP Riley Thompson(11) ran his fastball up to 98 and sat in the 93-94 mph range in his pro debut. More than that, the Cubs say the pitch showed the carry and ride through the zone that makes the pitch play better when it’s thrown in the upper part of the strike zone.
Best Secondary Pitch: RHP Paul Richan (2s), taken out of the University of San Diego, has a full four-pitch arsenal and earns high marks for his ability to vary the shape and velocity on his slider. He can throw the pitch for strikes and chases and will do so to both sides of the plate.
Best Pro Debut: Hoerner was trending this way before his season was cut short, but Roederer takes the honor for his excellent turn in the AZL. Roederer ranked No. 7 on BA’s AZL Top 20 list for his all-around blend of skills.
Most Intriguing Background: Both of Weber’s parents are violinists, and his father plays professionally with the Cleveland Orchestra … In addition to his basketball background and athletic bloodlines, Davis also owns a pet goat and two pet llamas named Marco and Polo.
Best Late-Round Pick: The Cubs had long been intrigued by Americaan, whom they nabbed in the 35th round and signed for a round-high $208,950. The figure was also the highest bonus in their class after the seventh round.