Chicago Sports Roundtable: Most Impressive Spring Training Performers, Bears Draft Pick Preferences

Join the “TLS” writers in a roundtable discussion every Monday on The Loop Sports! This Week we discuss which White Sox or Cubs player has had the most impressive Spring Training thus far, as well as who we would like to see the Bears take at number three overall on draft day.

The Loop Sports Staff Roundtable for the week of March 6, 2017:

Which White Sox or Cubs player has been the most impressive in Spring Training thus far?

Patrick Flowers: A few guys have turned in impressive Cactus League performances for the south sider’s to this point, and much like a I anticipate for this season, the White Sox youngsters are playing very well thus far. Zack Burdi has looked solid to this point, as has Tyler Danish, both with scoreless springs to this point. Leury Garcia has put forth a solid spring campaign as well, and if he stays on track, will be on the Opening Day roster next month, but no one has had a more impressive spring than Tim Anderson.

The second-year shortstop is hitting .444 through his first six games, and leads the White Sox with eight hits in 18 at-bats to this point. Anderson also has two doubles, a home run, and three RBI to this point, but most impressive of his spring campaign thus far has been his lone strikeout in his first 18 trips to the plate. Anderson’s one downside to an otherwise strong rookie campaign in 2016, was his strikeout rate. Anderson struck out 117 times in just 410 at-bats in 2016, while walking just 13 times last season. Anderson told the media at the start of camp this season, that he would be working hard to cut down on the strikeouts, and to this point, he has done just that.

Owen Schoenfeld: Tim Anderson is proof that with such an influx of young talent, it’s easy to gloss over the studs that were already in place. Anderson’s exemplified his greatest calling card this spring; the kid can flat out hit. Spring training stats come with their share of salt packets, but it’s hard to ignore Anderson’s .444 average and 1.167 OPS.

The OBP profile still needs a boost but he’s proving his hit tool and plate coverage can carry him to impact bat status, especially if he continues to leverage plus bat speed into sustained pop. All this while competently playing an up-the-middle position and Anderson looks like the first star to build the solar system around. Like clockwork, he’s begun to settle into a nice media-fan conduit role as well.

Matthew Smith: Tim Anderson (.444 BA, 1.167 OPS entering Monday’s tilt against the Padres) is having the best camp among White Sox hitters. There is no disputing this. I am more impressed, however, with the play of Peter Bourjos. Not only has he looked fairly good in center field, but he has been exceptional at the plate, throwing up a .375/.375/.688 slash line with two triples and five runs scored. And with Charlie Tilson’s status entering the season unknown, the White Sox need Bourjos to step up and make a case to crack the Opening Day roster.

To be sure, he isn’t going to help them compete for a division title, but if he can establish any trade value prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, the White Sox may be able to turn his one-year deal into a prospect. The return won’t be overwhelming, of course, but the club is adding talent across the minor leagues right now. If Bourjos can help that cause, count me in.

Anders Johanson: So far I have been most impressed by Avisail Garcia at the plate. He looks a lot more comfortable than he has in previous years. It might have something to do with Rick Renteria being willing to give him a shot at being the everyday right-fielder. Tyler Saladino has been fun to watch so far as well, and Lucas Giolito was looking real good in his start.

Tim Moran: I’d have to go with Tim Anderson. He’s hitting .444 and has looked very impressive overall. Importantly, he only has one strikeout in 18 ABs so far, a good sign of an improving plate approach. The Sox need him to be a cornerstone for their future, and for now, he’s playing like it.

You’re Ryan Pace on draft day, who are you taking with the third overall pick?

Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America

Patrick Flowers: I’m not sold on any of the big three quarterbacks expected to be taken in the third round of the NFL Draft in April, but I am however very keen on the idea of taking a guy like Patrick Mahomes in the second or third round, and using the third pick in the first round to begin to revamp one of the worst secondaries in the league.

The Bears biggest gaping weakness in 2016 was the pass coverage game, and they would have to spend a lot of money this offseason to turn that area of concern around, but with the third pick in the draft, a guy such as Jamal Adams out of LSU, could kick-start the rebuilding of a dismal secondary. Adams is viewed as one of the safest and most projectable players available in this year’s draft, and could anchor the secondary at the safety position sooner rather than later. Adams ran an impressive 4.56 40-yard-dash this past weekend at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and recorded 76 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for a loss to go along with two takeaways for the Tigers in 2016.

Owen Schoenfeld: Camden or Jaxon Cutler. Joking aside, any living breathing quarterback will do. Pick one from the trio of DeShone Kizer, Mitchell Trubisky, and Deshaun Watson, and fully invest in developing them as the next Chicago Bears linchpin.

The NFL is a quarterback’s league, so if 2017’s pick stays raw, then reset and double-down on QB in a promising 2018 draft class. Throwing money at Mike Glennon isn’t the answer and until Chicago solidifies who is taking the snaps, the rest of the foundation matters little because the former informs the latter.

Matthew Smith: So Miles Garrett is going to be gone by the time the Bears draft No. 3. DeShone Kizer, too. And we can take Jonathan Allen off the board (for the Bears, anyway) with word that he has arthritic shoulders. So does the club take quarterback Mitchell Trubisky from North Carolina? He is the next-best QB, right? Well, yes. And while they desperately need a QB, drafting Trubisky isn’t the play. Instead, I think they should grab Jamal Adams out of LSU. He would immediately make a weak position strong and serve as the linchpin in the secondary for many years. He’s a tremendous athlete with a nose for the football. Put him at strong safety and watch the rest of the back seven improve.

Anders Johanson: Who?

Tim Moran: I’d have to go with Deshaun Watson. He was a Heisman contender at Clemson and led the Tigers to a championship this year. Needless to say, he has a lot of talent and he pertains the attitude and the clutch factor to win. Furthermore, through Aaron Leming on Twitter, it seems like he’s performing well at the combine.

The Bears need a QB. An analysis of the last dozen Super Bowls is simple enough to tell you that to win a Super Bowl, you need an excellent, at least top-10 quarterback at the helm. Right now, the Bears don’t have that. Sure the Bears would be safer off taking a quality DL or LB, but taking a QB is a risk the Bears need to take given their current state.
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