The Chicago Cubs have a history of reaching for draft picks in the first round.  They did so again this season when they took Hayden Simpson, expected to be a second to fifth round pick, with the 16th pick of the first round.

Hayden went 13-1 in 15 starts for the South Arkansas Muleriders during his junior season.  He also had a 1.81 ERA and struck out 131 batters compared to just 35 walks in 99 and a third innings.

Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken compared Simpson to major league stars Tim Lincecum and Roy Oswalt, which is big praise for D-ll pitcher.

“I feel Hayden is potentially a major league starter,” Wilken said. “He has four above-average to plus-pitches. He’s a very athletic pitcher, and he has a good feel for pitching. We had really good reports and very good coverage on Simpson.”

Despite the high praise given to him from within the Cubs organization, however, he hasn’t been recognized by those around the league as a talent worthy of being taken this high.

As you can see from the picture above, they had to make a name plate for him on the spot, and didn’t have a draft report when he was drafted.

Simpson was also ranked 191st by Baseball America, but so was Tyler Colvin in 2006 when he was ranked near the tail end of Baseball America’s Top 200—Colvin is now producing in the majors for the Cubs.

Another Cub who was taken higher than expected was Andrew Cashner in 2008.  Cashner is now three appearances into his major league career and has yet to allow a run.

Simpson is a pitcher with a fastball in the mid-90’s, a solid curveball, slider, and circle-change that a very good speed differential from his fastball.

It has also been reported that a team with a pick soon after the Cubs was taking a serious look at Simpson for their first round pick, so Wilken may not have been the only one who felt he was worth a first round selection.

I’m Joe W.

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