Cubs stick with pitchers in draft
Club selects 11 hurlers in first 18 rounds
CHICAGO -- You can never have enough pitching, and that was the Chicago Cubs' primary focus in the First-Year Player Draft.
The Cubs chose Utah high school left-handed pitcher Mark Pawelek in the first round, 20th overall, and then selected 10 more pitchers in the first day. After Wednesday's final round -- No. 50 -- the Cubs had taken 25 pitchers (18 right-handers and seven lefties), nine outfielders, eight catchers, four shortstops, four third basemen and one first baseman.
Among the catchers selected was Michael Brenly, son of former Arizona Diamondbacks manager and current Cubs television analyst Bob Brenly.
"We were very excited to hear the news," Bob Brenly said Wednesday.
Michael, who prepped at Notre Dame High (Ariz.) School, was picked No. 1,296 in the 43rd round on Wednesday. He has committed to University of Nevada-Las Vegas and was expected to attend classes in the fall. Bob Brenly said the Cubs brass planned to keep an eye on the young catcher.
The younger Brenly served as the Diamondbacks bat boy for all seven games of the 2001 World Series, which Arizona won, beating the New York Yankees. During his junior season at Notre Dame, Brenly batted .481 with four homers and 29 RBIs.
According to a scouting report, Brenly is a "good defensive catcher with a strong arm and consistent release. He keeps his body quiet when setting up and receiving pitches."
On Tuesday, left-hander Donald Veal was chosen in the second round, followed by right-hander Mark Holliman and right-hander Mike Billek in the third.
Veal was 8-5 with a 3.65 ERA for Pima (Ariz.) Community College. He struck out 119 over 74 innings, threw three shutouts, and held opponents to a .207 batting average.
He went to the University of Arizona but injured his labrum. The left-hander never had surgery, and decided to switch to Pima this year. He lost three of his first five starts, and then settled down.
"As a person, he's one of the best," said Pima baseball coach Edgar Soto. "He was either going to be an orthopedic surgeon or a big leaguer. He's a big-time athletic guy and a real focused individual."
Veal also looks like a big leaguer. Soto said during the team's trip to Las Vegas for a tournament, the pitcher was often confused with Florida pitcher Dontrelle Willis. Coincidently, Willis was the Cubs' eighth-round pick in the June 2000 draft.
"[Veal] just doesn't have the leg kick," Soto said.
In the third round, the Cubs chose Holliman, a junior at the University of Mississippi who was first team all-SEC in 2004 after striking out 101 batters in 16 starts. His 101 K's ranked fourth in the SEC and were tied for fourth on the Ole Miss single-season list.
This season, Holliman threw a six-hit shutout to lead Ole Miss to a 5-0 win over Maine in the NCAA Oxford Regional on June 3, and was named to the regional all-tournament team.
With their supplemental pick in the third round as compensation for Matt Clement, the Cubs selected Billek out of University of Central Florida. He was the 108th selection after going 4-3 with a 4.07 ERA in 2005 for the Golden Knights.
Billek is the fifth player for UCF head coach Jay Bergman to be selected in the top five rounds of the draft since 2001. In his collegiate career, Billek was 6-4 with a 4.52 ERA in 143 1/3 innings. He had 133 strikeouts.
The Cubs then picked two high schoolers -- shortstop Dylan Johnston out of Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz., and right-handed pitcher Scott Taylor of Hermitage (Va.) High School.
Two Baylor ballplayers were tabbed when the Cubs selected shortstop Kyle Reynolds and left-handed pitcher David Taylor. Reynolds batted .270 in 55 games with eight home runs and 33 RBIs, while Taylor, a senior, was 7-5 with a 3.43 ERA in 17 games. The Cubs had drafted Taylor last year in the 20th round.
The Baylor Bears will be hosting the NCAA Super Regional this weekend. Baylor enters the tournament with a 42-21 record.
The Cubs selected North Carolina State catcher Jake Muyco No. 250, and University of Virginia right-handed pitcher Matthew Avery, who is 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, at No. 280. Muyco is considered an outstanding defensive player, and the junior batted .333 this year. Avery was 6-5 with a 4.34 ERA for Virginia, and struck out 71 over 85 innings.
The Cubs also tabbed Nebraska shortstop Joe Simokaitis, who batted .300 with 16 stolen bases for the Cornhuskers. Nebraska was 54-13 this year.
Among the players chosen on Wednesday's second day of the draft was Georgia right-hander Michael Hyle at No. 670 in the 22nd round. Hyle was 3-5 with a 4.54 ERA in 14 games, including wins over No. 5 Florida and No. 21 Mississippi State. He was one of six team captains on the Bulldogs this year.
The Cubs also tabbed two Chicago-area players. At No. 730, the Cubs took shortstop Scott Hode of Arkansas, who grew up in Crystal Lake, Ill. Hode batted .316 with three homers and 23 RBIs for Arkansas. The Cubs also picked right-handed pitcher Drew O'Connell in the 35th round at No. 1,060. O'Connell is from Barrington, Ill., and in his freshman year at John A. Logan College, he was 3-6 with a 5.72 ERA.
Outfielder Deryck Lewis was chosen in the 25th round at No. 760 and is described by one scouting service as similar physically to Don Baylor. Lewis has excellent bat speed.
Matthew Liuzza of Lousiana State, picked in the 30th round at No. 910, has been compared physically to Houston's Brad Ausmus and many scouts say he has the potential to be a frontline catcher. Liuzza batted .251 with three homers and 24 RBIs for the Tigers.
Chicago Cubs 2005 Draft Picks
(Pick, position, player, height, weight, school, birthdate)
20. LHP Mark Pawelek, 6-3, 190, Springville (Utah) High School, 8/18/1986
68. LHP Donald Veal, 6-3, 215, Pima (Ariz.) Community College, 9/18/1984
100. RHP Mark Holliman, 6-0, 195, University of Mississippi, 9/19/1983
108. RHP Michael Billek, 6-4, 235, University of Central Florida, 3/4/1984
130. SS Dylan Johnston, 6-0, 180, Hamilton (Ariz.) High School, 3/25/1987
160. RHP Scott Taylor, 6-3, 200, Hermitage (Virginia) High School, 12/28/86
190. SS Kyle Reynolds, 6-2, 190, Baylor, 9/1/1983
220. LHP Trey Taylor, 6-2, 200, Baylor, 11/12/1982
250. C Dionisio "Jake" Muyco, 6-1, 170, North Carolina State, 9/16/1984
280. RHP Matthew Avery, 6-5, 230, University of Virginia, 9/7/1983
310. SS Joseph Simokaitis, 6-1, 200, University of Nebraska, 12/27/1982
340. RHP Michael Phelps, 6-4, 200, Central Missouri State, 5/26/1984
370. C Yusuf Carter, 6-2, 205, El Paso (Texas) Community College, 2/6/1985
400. RHP Brett Jackson, 6-3, 210, Modesto (Calif.) Junior College, 9/28/1984
430. OF Tyler Graham, 6-0, 180, Oregon State, 1/25/1984
460. RHP Roger Evenson, 6-4, 235, Northwest Nazarene College, 8/18/1983
490. RHP Jon Mueller, 6-4, 180, Minnesota, 5/12/1984
520. 3B Brandon Taylor, 6-1, 195, Brigham Young, 7:26/1982
550. OF Victor Liriano, 5-11, 200, El Paso (Texas) Community College, 5/19/1984
580. RHP Kyle Holden, 6-6, 205, Cal State San Bernardino, 12/13/1983
610. OF Leonardo Ware, 5-10, 185, North Atlanta High School, 3/18/1987
640. C Peter Farina, 6-1, 200, Virginia Commonwealth, 9/7/1983
670. RHP Michael Hyle, 6-2, 190, Georgia, 2/20/1982
700. LHP Jayson Ruhlman, 6-1, 180, Central Michigan, 8/17/1984
730. SS Scott Hode, 6-0, 185, Arkansas-Fayetteville, 3/11/1983
760. OF Deryck Lewis, 6-0, 210, Los Angeles Valley College, 8/25/1985
790. 3B Nikolaus Crouch, 6-4, 225, Vanguard University, 1/26/1983
820. OF David Gregg, 6-1, 175, University of South Carolina-Columbia, 5/31/1983
850. LHP Michael Greenhouse, 5-11, 200, Evansville, 4/18/83
880. OF John Defendis, 6-1, 195, Rutgers, 3/12/1984
910. C Matthew Liuzza, 6-0, 195, Louisiana State, 2/3/1984
940. RHP Bradley Depoy, 6-1, 205, San Jacinto College North, 9/14/1984
970. RHP Colby Wark, 6-3, 215, Lower Columbia College, 8/12/1986
1000. RHP Benjamin Ferguson, 6-7, 210, Cottonwood (Utah) Senior High School, 10/10/1986
1030. 3B Cody Gilbert, 6-3, 185, Lincoln Trail College, 8/21/1985
1060. RHP Drew O'Connell, 6-3, 195, John A. Logan College, 5/11/1986
1090. LHP Needham Jones, 6-1, 175, Old Dominion, 11/9/1982
1120. OF Jesse Keen, 6-2, 200, Georgia, 6/12/83
1150. OF Ryan Episcopo, 6-2, 180, Andrew College, 7/20/1985
1180. C Justin Morgan, 6-1, 193, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, 2/1/1982
1209. LHP Ryan Chambers, 6-2, 180, Brigham Young, 12/31/1982
1238. RHP Christopher Rollins, 6-4, 190, Winslow Township (New Jersey) High School, 9/16/1986
1267. RHP Noah Garza, 6-0, 190, Nolan (Texas) High School, 10/9/1986
1296. C Michael Brenly, 6-3, 210, Notre Dame (Ariz.) High School, 10/14/1986
1325. OF Edward Rush, 5-11, 170, Westlake (Ga.) High School, 1/14/1987
1354. RHP Corey Madden, 6-1, 195, St. Mary's College, 3/30/1984
1383. 1B Luther Murphy, 6-4, 225, Hialeah Miami (Fla.) High School, 3/15/1986
1412. C Mario Williams, 6-2, 220, Hillsborough (Fla.) High School, 7/4/1987
1440. C Andrew Hawranick, 6-2, 200, Georgia Tech, 8/14/1983
1467. 3B Kyle Mura, 6-3, 215, Loyola Marymount, 11/24/1984
1494. RHP Steven Morlock, 6-2, 210, UC-Santa Barbara, 8/6/1984
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.