An early glimpse of Anthony Prieto proved enough for the Chicago Cubs. The team overlooked Prieto's spring injury and drafted the Americas High senior pitcher with the sixth pick in the fifth round (164th overall) of the 2012 Major League Baseball amateur draft on Tuesday. Most publications projected Prieto to be picked much later, with Baseball America listing him as the 492nd best prospect.
"Awesome," said Prieto, who missed six weeks of the high school season with a forearm hematoma. "The Cubs were one of the first teams to see me and it was before I got hurt."
Prieto said he would sign with the Cubs and forgo a commitment to Howard Junior College. The Cubs called Prieto before selecting him and asked if he would sign. Prieto said yes.
"I'm really ready to get my career started," Prieto said. "This is my ultimate goal, my dream, so why not go play and start the experience process."
Prieto's projected signing bonus under the new collective bargaining agreement is about $250,000, according to Baseball America.
Prieto (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) wowed the Cubs as part of a traveling team at a fall showcase in Peoria, Ariz. The lefty's fastball touched as high as 97 mph, according to some reports, and averaged in the low 90s.
The Cubs' scouting director, Tim Wilken, also got to see Prieto, who had not crossed most scouts' paths because he had not played club ball before and started pitching late.
"That was key," said Americas coach Jesse Munoz. "The scouting
director got to see Anthony before he got hurt."
After the injury, Prieto still flashed his excellent curve ball and the natural, effortless motion, but the velocity and endurance dropped slightly.
Still, Prieto managed to go 6-0. He struck out 70 batters in 40 innings pitched and allowed just 16 walks and 16 hits.
"They really just liked my velocity, the curve ball and that I was a lefty," Prieto said. "They have confidence in me."
This is the second year in a row the Cubs have drafted an El Pasoan. Former Texas player Ricky Jacquez from Franklin was drafted last June.
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