With their two picks in the compensation round(43 and 56overall), the Cubs selected pitchers Pierce Johnson and Paul Blackburn . The Cubs received the pick as compensation for Aramis Ramirez signing with the Milwaukee Brewers. After drafting a hitter with their first pick, the Cubs began to addresses their need for pitching.
Johnson, 20, was quickly moving up draft boards but had a setback with a forearm strain at Missouri State. However, he was able to return from the injury and pitched very well. The righty features three good pitches starting with a 94 mph fastball. Johnson is at his best when he commands his fastball low in the zone. To compliment the fastball, Johnson throws a hard curve as his “out” pitch. He misses a lot more bats with the curve ball than the fastball. However, Johnson will have to improve his change up in order to be an effective big league pitcher.
If his injury does not come back and he continues to keep his good command, Johnson projects to be a solid middle of the rotation starter.
Blackburn, 18, is a senior out of Heritage High school in California. Blackburn put himself on the prospect board after impressing scouts last year at the Area Codes Games. He features a 92 mph fastball as his primary pitch and then a curve ball and a change up as his other two pitches. Although his curve ball and change up are not fully developed yet, they both have to potential of becoming very effective pitches for Blackburn. His command will continue to improve due to his great athleticism and continued experience. Since the Cubs figure to be two or three years away from being a contending team, they could afford to draft a young pitcher that they can develop.
That is it for the first day of the draft. It went just as expected as the Cubs took a hitter with their first pick and pitchers with their next two. The draft will continue with rounds 2-15 tomorrow beginning at 11 A.M. CST. The draft can be followed live tomorrow only on MLB.com