The Chicago Cubs had to wait a little bit longer than most teams Monday night in the 2017 MLB Draft but had two picks in the first round.
After winning the 2016 World Series, the Cubs also received another pick from the St. Louis Cardinals after outfielder Dexter Fowler left Chicago.
And with both picks, the Cubs focused on pitching.
The Cubs selected left handed pitcher Brendon Little out of State College of Florida with the 27th overall selection on Monday night.
I like Brendon Little a lot. Left-hander who will show plus-plus fastball and plus breaking ball. Huge upside.
— Christopher Crawford (@Crawford_MILB) June 13, 2017
Little originally committed to play at the University of North Carolina and pitched just 4 innings for the Tar Heels in 2016. He transferred to the State College of Florida and was eligible to join the draft this year.
As the top rated player in UNC’s 2016 class, Little struggled to throw strikes despite having a 96 MPH fast ball.
Down in the bullpen, Little had plenty of time to think. He researched his mechanical work, searching for answers. Somewhere along the line, he knew he’d be leaving North Carolina.
“Two months into the season, I had thrown one inning,” Little said. “I wasn’t going back. I needed to be somewhere where I could get the innings, even if I did struggle a bit.”
#Cubs take Brendon Little. One of my favorite picks yet. Among the best amateur lefty curveballs I've ever seen. Hammer. And he's 91-95
— Frankie Piliere (@FPiliereD1) June 13, 2017
It’s a smart move for the Cubs, who had the 16th ranked farm system entering Monday’s draft.
Following the selection of Little, the Cubs then selected right handed pitcher Alex Lange out of LSU with the 30th overall pick.
Lange entered the draft as the 23rd best prospect. Both his walk and strikeout rate got better in 2017 as he has helped lead the Tigers to Omaha for the College World Series.
Here’s what Minor League Baseball wrote on Lange’s strengths:
Lange is a 6-4, 200 pounder, born October 2, 1995. Lange topped out as 92 MPH in high school but his velocity has picked up in college, working at 92-96 now. In high school he worked mainly with a slider as his breaking ball but this has become more of a curve in college. Both the fastball and breaking ball earn plus grades from scouts; MLB.com for example giving both pitches a 60-grade. His change-up may have actually been his best pitch in high school but has been erratic in college, very impressive in ‘15 but not as sharp in ‘16.
The 2017 MLB Draft will continue on Tuesday.