Updating the 2010 first-round picks; Bryce Harper and more

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Checking in on how the first 32 picks of the 2010 draft are doing approximately 30 games into the 2011 season.

Hitters first, then the pitchers.

1. Bryce Harper (OF Nationals): .371/.460/.701, 7 HR, 5 SB in 97 AB (low-A Hagerstown)
3. Manny Machado (SS Orioles): .333/.450/.611, 5 HR, 3 SB in 90 AB (low-A Delmarva)
4. Christian Colon (SS Royals): .260/.351/.365, 2 HR, 7 SB in 96 AB (AA Northwest Arkansas)
8. Delino DeShields Jr. (2B Astros): .250/.330/.438, 4 HR, 7 SB in 96 AB (low-A Lexington)
10. Michael Choice (OF Athletics): .241/.349/.435, 4 HR, 3 SB in 108 AB (high-A Stockton)
12. Yasmani Grandal (C Reds): .278/.421/.546, 7 HR, 0 SB in 97 AB (high-A Bakersfield)
15. Jake Skole (OF Rangers): .240/.301/.327, 1 HR, 5 SB in 104 AB (low-A Hickory)
17. Josh Sale (OF Rays): Yet to play
18. Kaleb Cowart (3B Angels): Yet to play
20. Kolbrin Vitek (3B Red Sox): .333/.405/.480, 0 HR, 4 SB in 102 AB (high-A Salem)
22. Kellin Deglan (C Rangers): .240/.305/.380, 1 HR, 0 SB in 50 AB (low-A Hickory)
23. Christian Yelich (OF Marlins): .289/.389/.454, 3 HR, 6 SB in 97 AB (low-A Greensboro)
24. Gary Brown (OF Giants): .357/.438/.492, 2 HR, 19 SB in 126 AB (high-A San Jose)
25. Zack Cox (3B Cardinals): .288/.314/.315, 0 HR, 1 SB in 111 AB (high-A Palm Beach)
26. Kyle Parker (OF Rockies): .311/.356/.467, 2 HR, 1 SB in 90 AB (low-A Asheville)
30. Chevy Clarke (OF Angels): Yet to play
31. Justin O’Conner (C Rays): Yet to play
32. Cito Culver (SS Yankees): Yet to play

Machado is currently shelved with a knee injury, but he was right there with Harper as a top performer on this list before going down.

Grandal and Brown should be the first players here to get promoted this season.  Both were college products, and many figured the Reds would start Grandal in Double-A anyway.  Brown struggled in his pro debut last year, so starting him in high-A was the right move.  However, he seems too good for the California League now.  He just had nine hits and eight RBI in a three-game series against Bakersfield over the weekend.

Cox and Choice have been the biggest disappointments so far.  Cox, who likely would have been a top-10 pick if not for high bonus demands, has just three extra-base hits and a 22/4 K/BB ratio.  Choice, who is in the best league for hitters in the minors, has fanned 37 times in 27 games this season and 82 times in 217 at-bats as a pro.

The “yet to play” guys all figure to be assigned to short-season teams next month.

2. Jameson Taillon (Pirates): 1-1, 1.64 ERA, 11/2 K/BB in 11 IP (low-A West Virginia)
5. Drew Pomeranz (Indians): 1-0, 1.27 ERA, 42/10 K/BB in 28.1 IP (high-A Kinston)
6. Barret Loux (Rangers): 2-2, 3.19 ERA, 38/6 K/BB in 31 IP (high-A Myrtle Beach)
7. Matt Harvey (Mets): 4-1, 1.10 ERA, 39/11 K/BB in 32.2 IP (high-A St. Lucie)
9. Karsten Whitson (Padres): Did not sign
11. Deck McGuire (Blue Jays): 1-2, 2.93 ERA, 26/10 K/BB in 30.2 IP (high-A Dunedin)
13. Chris Sale (White Sox): 2-0, 7.15 ERA, 13/5 K/BB in 11.1 IP (ML White Sox)
14. Dylan Covey (Brewers): Did not sign
16. Hayden Simpson (Cubs): 0-1, 4.15 ERA, 21/8 K/BB in 26 IP (low-A Peoria)
19. Mike Foltynewicz (Astros): 0-5, 5.51 ERA, 16/9 K/BB in 32.1 IP (low-A Lexington)
21. Alex Wimmers (Twins): 0-1, infinite ERA, 0/6 K/BB in 0 IP (high-A Fort Myers)
27. Jesse Biddle (Phillies): 1-4, 5.47 ERA, 24/16 K/BB in 26.1 IP (low-A Lakewood)
28. Zach Lee (Dodgers): 3-0, 1.17 ERA, 28/11 K/BB in 30.2 IP (low-A Great Lakes)
29. Cam Bedrosian (Angels): Yet to play

Loux was the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick last year, but the team decided not to sign him after a physical turned up some serious red flags.  He was declared a free agent and signed with the Rangers in November.

The Pirates and Indians probably don’t have any regrets about their picks, but Harvey is looking terrrific and is closer to the majors than anyone else here (Sale excepted).

Simpson, who was widely viewed as a third-round talent before the draft, has yet to make the Cubs look any better for picking him 16th.   He’s the only one of the seven college products here currently pitching in low-A.

Wimmers was placed on the DL with an illness after walking all six batters he faced in his first start of the year.  He’s currently trying to work through his control problems in extended spring training.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.