HOW MARK GRACE WENT FROM THE NORTH POLE TO THE NORTH SIDE.
In 1985 Grace was a junior at San Diego State when he was drafted by the Cubs in the 24th round and offered $5,000, but rather than sign he planned to go back to school for his senior year. His coach suggested that Grace spend his summer with the North Pole Nicks, in the Alaska League, where he could play without endangering his amateur status. Grace made $250 a month painting houses during the day and played ball (very well) at night. The Cubs took notice at the end of the Alaska League season and upped their offer to $20,000. Grace signed on the dotted line. Three years later he began a big league career (out of Double-A) that would include three All-Star appearances and four Gold Gloves.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
With the Cubs signing free agents John Lackey and Jason Heyward last winter and then surprisingly re-signing Dexter Fowler in spring training, their first pick in this year’s draft will come in the 3rd Round on Friday, as the 104th overall selection. Over the last 10 draft classes, the 104th pick has produced Marlins starting catcher J.T. Realmuto (2011), Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick (2009) and Indians reliever Zach McAllister (2006). Current Cub Matt Szczur was a #160, 5th Round pick in 2010.
2016 NL Central and White Sox Top Draft Picks:
2. Cincinnati Reds: 3B Nick Senzel, Tennessee – In a draft with a lot of uncertainty, Senzel has one of the highest floors. He’s arguably the best pure hitter in college baseball, and there is more power in there. He has proven he can play third base and he should be a solid regular in the big leagues very quickly.
5. Milwaukee Brewers: OF Corey Ray, Louisville – There was some chatter before the weekend that Ray might fall to the bottom of the top 10, but this is a good fit. Great power/speed combination, and while we don’t know if he can play center field, he has the speed to at least give it a shot. He still profiles well at the corner outfield spots.
10. Chicago White Sox: C Zack Collins, Miami – Collins may not pan out to be a catcher long-term, but he’s one of the most well-rounded hitters among college players in this Draft. He hits for average, he hits for power, he draws walks. If they can clean him up behind the plate, he can be an All-Star. If not, he’ll hit more than enough to profile at first base or as a designated hitter.
22. Pittsburgh Pirates: 3B Will Craig, Wake Forest – From a numbers standpoint, it would be hard to argue that any college hitter has done more the last two years than Craig. He’s an all-bat guy who draws comparisons to Billy Butler in both a positive and negative sense. He also throws 94 mph off the mound, so he has the arm for third base, though his lack of athleticism will move him to first.
23. St. Louis Cardinals: SS Delvin Perez, Colegio Individualizado PJ Education School (P.R.) – Perez was in discussion for several top 10 picks before a report surfaced that he failed a pre-Draft drug test for an undisclosed PED. The Padres were in play for Perez and were looming with the next two picks, which may have been why the Cardinals moved here. Before the positive test, Perez was considered clearly the best shortstop in the draft.