The Cubs made it seven pitchers in a row in the 2012 draft with this trio of arms
Trey Lang, RHP, 6th Round, Pick #194, Gateway Community College
A hitting star in high school, the Cubs used their sixth round pick last year on a 20-year-old with an explosive fastball.
Signing on July 3 for $165,000, the 6-foot-3 right-hander made his pro debut July 11 against the Padres working a perfect inning with a strikeout in the Arizona Rookie League. Five days later, Lang allowed four hits and a walk as the A’s tallied four runs in 1.2 innings. Yielding just one run in his next two games, Lang worked four scoreless innings on July 31, his longest outing of the season, giving up four hits with four punchouts. After not pitching the first three weeks of August, he returned to the mound making two more appearances allowing three hits and one run. Lang finished his first pro season with a 3.29 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 13 innings. He only issued two free passes to go along with 11 strikeouts and a .286 BAA in seven games.
At Skyline High School in Mesa, it was Lang’s bat that drew attention as the senior hit .356 with 7 HR and 27 RBI in 27 games. He posted .455 average with a school-record nine homers and 35 RBI in 32 games as a junior. After graduation, he enrolled at Northern Illinois University appearing in four games as a pitcher and also played outfield for the Huskies, going 7-55 at the plate. He allowed 12 hits in 7. 1 innings with three walks and four strikeouts. He then returned home and played for Gateway Community College in Mesa. Out of necessity, Lang started pitching and quickly became the team’s best pro prospect. With his fastball in the low 90s, Lang crafted a 0.87 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 31 innings, earning Arizona Community College Athletic Conference first-team honors for Division 2.
According to Kevin Gallo of Big League Futures, Lang was drafted by Cubs for his fastball and projects the pitch at 94-95, hitting 98. Lang posses a plus slider with a hard break that is a strike out pitch. Gallo thinks Lang could start but projects better as a back of the bullpen arm and thinks he could make a quick rise up the minor leagues with a Wrigley debut possible in 2015. Lang may make a push for Kane County before the season is done, but will likely start the year at Boise. He’s relatively new to pitching having only logged 55.1 innings the past two seasons.
Anthony Prieto, RHP, 5th Round, Pick #164, Americas High School
He may stand only 5-foot-11 and weigh 170 pounds, but the Cubs liked what they saw with Anthony Prieto’s fastball and took the youngster out of El Paso with their fifth-round pick.
The left-hander recovered from the arm injury that cut his senior year of high school short and made his pro debut on July 8 against the Brewers throwing a scoreless inning in the Arizona Rookie League. Despite some control problems, Prieto was tough to hit as the Texas native was unscored upon in his first nine innings, giving up just one hit with five strikeouts and eight walks. He allowed one run in a three-inning start against Angels on Aug. 11 and then threw three perfect innings against the Reds the next time out with three strikeouts. He was roughed up by the Mariners as he walked three and gave up four hits and four runs in 2.1 innings. He ended the 2012 campaign with two more scoreless innings against the A’s. Prieto threw 19.1 innings in the AZL allowing just nine hits in 10 games. He finished with an ERA of 2.33 but had 12 walks and 11 Ks. He led all 2012 draft picks with a .145 BAA.
Not many MLB clubs had the Americas High School lefty on their radar for an early round selection as he missed six weeks of his senior year with a forearm hematoma and didn’t pitch club ball during the summer. Tim Wilkin, a former Cub scout who now serves as Special Assistant to the Cubs President and GM, saw Prieto pitch during a fall showcase in Arizona where reports say his fastball was clocked at 97 mph. Prieto was lights out his senior year going 6-0 with 70 strikeouts in just 40 innings with 16 walks and 16 hits. He had committed to play baseball for Howard Junior College but signed with the Cubs on June 18 for $200,000.
The Cubs seem in no rush to move their young arms through the system so its likely Prieto will stay in Arizona for extended spring training and head to Boise in June. It will be interesting to see if any of the four high schoolers signed by the Cubs make it to Kane County by summer’s end but the hard throwing 19-year-old from Texas may be the first if he cuts down on the walks.
Josh Conway, RHP, 4th Round, Pick #134, Costal Carolina
Many draft experts had Josh Conway pegged as a possible second round pick when the 2012 college season got underway but an arm injury allowed the Cubs to take the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder, with their fourth round selection.
A two-sport star for Smithsburg High School in Maryland, Conway was a 2nd team Rawlings All-American and earned several local Player of the Year honors during his high school baseball career. He went 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA as a senior, striking out 52 batters in 35 innings. The Atlanta Braves selected Conway in the 42nd round of the 2009 draft but he headed to Costal Carolina instead. Conway was a two-way player his freshman year pitching in 19 games with five starts as well as serving as the team’s DH with a .274 average. He excelled in his second season with the Chants appearing in middle relief, a stint as the closer and finally a top starter. His breakout game came against College of Charleston, ranked #18 at the time, as the right-hander fanned a career-high 12 in 5.1 innings and earned Big South Pitcher of the Week for his performance. Conway ended his sophomore year at 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA (10th best in school history) pitching in 20 games with 12 starts and three saves. He threw 77 innings with 70 strikeouts and allowed 70 hits with 23 walks and a BAA of .241. That summer he earned Cape Cod League all-star team honors going 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in five starts as he fanned 28 with 10 walks in 28.2 innings. Conway was off a great start his junior season going 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA in nine starts. He logged 54.2 innings with 54 strikeouts and 1.17 WHIP. After coming out of a game against Liberty, it was determined that Conway had torn his UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery on May 15. Despite the injury, he was still named to the Big South second-team. He signed with the Cubs on June 16 for $280,000.
Recovering from surgery, Conway, who turns 22 in April, didn’t pitch in 2012 but the good news is he has been participating in regular drills this spring and is expected to make his pro debut in 2013. He will most likely stay at extended spring training and could start in Arizona Rookie League or Boise. While at Costal Carolina, Conway’s fastball was clocked in the mid-90s and he also posses a hard breaking slider.
This is the sixth in a series featuring the 17 pitchers the Cubs drafted and signed in 2012. It takes a look at their career before the draft, how they pitched after turning pro, and where they may start 2013. Its also serving as a free look at future subscription only stories that NorthSidersReport will start running soon.
Kevin Gallo, director of scouting for BigLeagueFutures.net, helped contribute to this story. Gallo was recently in Arizona and stopped by Fitch Park for some first hand observations.