Haydn McGeary – Picture by Todd Johnson
Normally, I give an initial grade for each draft class in September of the year after the players were drafted. Today, I am not giving out an initial grade, I will, though, give you an update on how they are doing and not doing…a progress report if you will.
On the Shelf
Sadly, five of the 19 draft picks and 1 undrfafted free agent are on the 60 Day IL. They are Nazier Mule, Will Frisch, Garrett Brown, Shane Marshall, and JP Wheat. It is possible Wheat returns this year along with Marshall who both have been seen on the rehab field but have not been in any EXST games. Mule is out for the year while Frisch’s status is unclear as is Brown’s. I would not hold my breath with them but if they did return this year, that would be a bonus.
Several of last year’s draft class are out in Mesa right now playing in EXST games. Some of them, like Christopher Paciolla, Jackson Ferris, and Mason McGwire might be there all summer in the ACL. Others like Luis Rujano, Matt Peters, and Ke’Shun Collier could make it to Myrtle Beach at some point this summer just based on how they are doing and their age. To be honest, it would be cool to see Paciolla, Ferris, and McGwire in Myrtle Beach this summer but they need to get more experience in rookie league.
The Pelicans’ collection of draft picks has been fun to watch. Cade Horton has a 0.00 ERA after last night’s game. The slider is as advertised and the fastball is a little bit better than people thought. Brody McCullough is looking great after 3 games. He has a 1.59 ERA with 14 Ks in 11.1 IP. I would expect to see both of these guys to be in South Bend before the end of the first half.
Andy Garriola has had bursts of massive power He has 3 HR in 11 games with 9 RBI in 11 games. If he can get his walk rate up and his average a bit, he will be off to South Bend as well.
For Branden Noriega (who I really like), Nick Hull, and Grant Kipp, they all have some work to do to get better. All three have some control issues to fix to establish consistency in the strike zone. Noriega has some nasty stuff that just needs to find its way to the zone. The same is true for Kipp and Hull.
The Cubs only have three draft picks from 2022 here and I do not expect them to be here beyond May 1. Hayden McGeary hits lasers, pure and simple. He hits them all over the ballpark. I have not seen a hitter like him in the Cubs system ever. He just punishes balls in the zone, and especially breaking balls. Heading into last night’s game, he had an OPS of 1.063 with 2 HRs and 12 RBI in 17 games. After last night, he is hitting over .400. The dude is major stud. Tennessee will be his home soon.
Connor Noland and Brandon Birdsell have clearly shown they do not belong in HIgh-A as well. The problem for them is there is a bit of a pitcher’s log jam going on in the system. Bridsell has a 0.84 ERA in 3 games while Noland is at 2.31 in three games. Of the two, Birdsell looks nastier but Noland is also more controlled. They are two great draft picks!
It is still too eary to give an initial grade, but a progress report would be fair. It’s clear that the half of the class that is playing is playing great and showing some great promise. The other half that is not still holds said promise. Right now, I would roll with an A- just based on the studly starting pitcher of Horton, McCullough, Birdsell, and Noland. Add in McGeary as a “SUPER FIND” and you have the makings of a great class with Ferris, McGwire, Rujano, and Paciolla, yet to comoe.
If the guys in Arizona pan out this summer, we might be looking at an A this fall, possibly an A+, if it is a really good summer.