I guess you have to trust Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken on this one, if you want to, of course. Wilken pulled another draft-day shocker this evening by taking 6-foot righty Hayden Simpson out of Southern Arkansas. Almost said Scottie Pippen out of Central Arkansas.
The so-called experts had Simpson nowhere near the first round, but Wilken said he liked Simpson’s four plus pitches, his athleticism, his “competitiveness, will to win and feel for pitching.”
Tim described the kid physically as a cross between Roy Oswalt and Tim Lincecum while acknowledging he has a long way to go to reach that status. Like Lincecum, Simpson said on a conference call tonight that he uses his whole body to pitch, easing stress on the arm.
The 21-year-old Simpson was 13-1 this year with a 1.81 ERA in Division II ball. Simpson said his best pitch is his slider and that he also possesses a four-seam fastball, a circle change and a 12-to-6 curveball.
Both sides see no issues with signability.
This will be another test for Wilken, a fun, roguish type guy who doesn’t give a damn what you, I or Baseball America thinks. His No. 1 picks with the Cubs have been Tyler Colvin, Josh Vitters, Andrew Cashner, Brett Jackson and now Simpson.
In his years with the Blue Jays, Wilken helped procure the likes of Casey Blake, Chris Carpenter, Carlos Delgado, Ryan Freel, Jay Gibbons, Shawn Green, Roy Halladay, Orlando Hudson, Reed Johnson, Alex Rios, Shannon Stewart, Vernon Wells and Michael Young.
The jury is still out on his picks with the Cubs, especially Jeff Samardzija. One thing Wilken has done is add depth to the Cubs’ farm system with the likes of Jay Jackson, Casey Coleman, Chris Carpenter (another one), DJ LeMahieu, Ryan Flaherty, Tony Campana, David Cales, Darwin Barney, Brandon Guyer, Ty Wright and others.
Let’s see what happens. Heading to Milwaukee tomorrow.