Cubs

Cubs 2015 MLB Draft Tracker: Day 3

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Cubs 2015 MLB Draft Tracker: Day 3

The Cubs opted for a position player in the first round for the fourth time in a row during the Theo Epstein regime and used Day 2 to load up on arms.

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Check out the complete list of players the Cubs drafted in Day 3, spanning rounds 11 through 40:

Round 11, No. 323: Matt Rose, 3B, Georgia State

Round 12, No. 353: P.J. Higgins, 2B, Old Dominion

Round 13, No. 383: Kyle Twomey, LHP, USC - (Note: Was drafted in the third round by the Oakland A's in 2012 out of high school, but didn't sign.)

Round 14, No. 413: Jake Kelzer, RHP, Indiana

Round 15, No. 443: Scott Effross, RHP, Indiana - (Note: Cubs opted to go for Kyle Schwarber's former battery mates at IU with back-to-back picks.)

Round 16, No. 473: Michael Foster, CF, Northeastern

Round 17, No. 503: Casey Bloomquist, RHP, Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo

Round 18, No. 533: John Cresto, 3B, Cathedral Catholic High School

Round 19, No. 563: Kyle Miller, RHP, Florida Atlantic University

Round 20, No. 593: Blake Headley, 3B, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Round 21, No. 623: Jared Cheek, RHP, University of Georgia

Round 22, No. 653: Alex Bautista, OF, Lindsey Wilson College

Round 23, No. 683: John Williamson, LHP, Rice University

Round 24, No. 713: Sutton Whiting, SS, University of Louisville

Round 25, No. 743: Marcus Mastrobuoni, C, California State University-Stanislaus

Round 26, No. 773: Jared Padgett, LHP, Graceville High School

Round 27, No. 803: Angelo Amendolare, 2B, Jacksonville University

Round 28, No. 833: Delvin Zinn, SS, Pontotoc High School 

Round 29, No. 863: Ian Rice, C, Houston

Round 30, No. 893: Tyler Payne, C, West Virginia St. University

Round 31, No. 923: Daniel Spingola, OF, Georgia Tech

Round 32, No. 953: Fitz Stadler, RHP, Glenbrook South High School - (Note: Chicagoland product is 6-foot-8 and has been tabbed a potential first-round pick if he goes to college for more seasoning.)

Round 33, No. 983: M.T. Minacci, RHP - (Note: Was drafted in 20th round by the Colorado Rockies in 2013; did not attend school this spring.)

Round 34, No. 1013: Cody Hawken, OF, Union High School

Round 35, No. 1043: Taylor Jones, 1B, Gonzaga

Round 36, No. 1073: Al Jones, SS, Columbus High School - (Note: Attended the same high school as Frank Thomas and has drawn comparisons to Reds speedster Billy Hamilton.)

Round 37, No. 1103: Donnie Cimino, OF, Wesleyan University

Round 38, No. 1133: Rayne Supple, RHP, Champlain Valley High School

Round 39, No. 1163: John Kilichowski, LHP, Vanderbilt

Round 40, No. 1193: Domenic DeRenzo, Central Catholic HS

Feeding off their defense, Cubs starting to feel those 2016 vibes

Feeding off their defense, Cubs starting to feel those 2016 vibes

A year ago, the Cubs were struggling to float above .500, sitting 1.5 games behind the first-place Brewers.

Two years ago, the Cubs were10.5 games up on the second-place Cardinals in the division and already in cruise control to the postseason.

As they entered a weekend series in Cincinnati at 42-29 and in a tie for first place, the Cubs are feeling quite a bit more like 2016 than 2017.

The major reason? Energy, as Joe Maddon pointed out over the weekend.

That energy shows up most often on defense.

The 2016 Cubs put up maybe the best defensive season in baseball history while last year they truly looked hungover.

After a big of a slow start to 2018, the Cubs are feelin' more of that '16 swag.

If you watched either of the wins against the Los Angeles Dodgers this week at Wrigley Field, it's clear to see why: the defense.

"I like the defense," Maddon said of his team last week. "I'm into the defense. There's a tightness about the group. There's a closeness about the group. Not saying last year wasn't like that, but this group is definitely trending more in the '16 direction regarding interacting.

"If anything — and the one thing that makes me extremely pleased — would be the continuation of the defense. We've fed so much off our defense in '16. We've been doing that more recently again. We do so much good out there, then we come in and it gets kinda electric in the dugout. I'd like to see that trend continue on defense."

The Cubs scored only 2 runs in 10 innings in the second game against the Dodgers Tuesday night and managed just 4 runs in the finale Wednesday. Yet their gloves helped hold the Dodgers to only 1 run combined between the two games.

Wednesday's game was a defensive clinic, with Jason Heyward throwing out Chris Taylor at home plate with an incredible tag by Willson Contreras while Javy Baez, Albert Almora Jr., Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber all hit the ground to make sprawling/diving plays.

"[Almora] comes in and dives for one and I'm just like, 'OK, I'm done clapping for you guys,'" Jon Lester, Wednesday's winning pitcher, joked. "It's expected now that these guys make these plays. It's fun on our end. It's the, 'Here, hit it. Our guys are really good out there and they're gonna run it down.'"

The Heyward throw, in particular, jacked the team up. 

Maddon compared it to a grand slam with how much energy it provided the Cubs. Almora said he momentarily lost his voice because he was screaming so much at the play.

There was also Baez making plays in the hole at shortstop, then switching over to second base and turning a ridiculous unassisted double play on a liner in the 8th inning.

"That's what we're capable of doing," Maddon said. "In the past, when we've won on a high level, we've played outstanding defense. It never gets old to watch that kind of baseball."

The Cubs are back to forcing opposing hitters to jog off the field, shaking their head in frustration and disbelief.

"It could be so dispiriting to the other side when you make plays like that," Maddon said. "And also it's buoyant to your pitchers. So there's all kinds of good stuff goin' on there."

A lot of that is the play of the outfield, with Almora back to himself after a down 2017 season and Schwarber turning into a plus-rated defensive outfield.

After finishing 19th in baseball in outfield assists last season, the Cubs are currently tied for 6th with 14 outfield assists this year.

Schwarber has 7 alone, which is already as many as he tallied in the entire 2017 season.

"I feel like they'll learn quickly on Schwarber, if they haven't yet," Heyward said. "You gotta earn that respect. You gotta earn that sense of caution from the third base coach.

"But please keep running on me in those situations. I want it to happen."

Brandon Morrow has a healthy sense of humor about his pants-related injury

Brandon Morrow has a healthy sense of humor about his pants-related injury

Brandon Morrow's body may not be healthy, but his sense of humor sure isn't on the disabled list.

The Cubs closer had to go on the DL Wednesday after he injured his back changing out of his pants early Monday morning when the Cubs returned home to Chicago after a Sunday night game in St. Louis.

The story made national rounds, not only in the baseball world, but resonating with non-sports fans, as well. After all, it's not every day a guy who gets paid millions for his athletic endeavors injures himself on a mundane every day activity.

But it's all good, because even Morrow can find the humor in the situation, Tweeting this out Thursday afternoon:

Morrow's back tightened up on him and didn't loosen up enough the next two days, making him unavailable for the Cubs doubleheader Tuesday at Wrigley Field.

The team decided to put him on the shelf Wednesday morning so an already-gassed bullpen wouldn't have more pressure during this stretch of 14 games in 13 days.

The Cubs are in Cincinnati this weekend for a four-game series with the Reds. Morrow is eligible to return from the DL next Wednesday in Los Angeles as the Cubs once again take on the Dodgers — Morrow's old team.

The 33-year-old pitcher is 16-for-17 in save chances this year while posting a 1.59 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. He's only given up a run in 2 of his 26 outings as a Cub.