One nice thing about the horrible 2011 season is the Cubs will draft sixth in each round, with the probable exception of Round Two. That pick may be compensation if we pull in a much needed Free Agent this off season. I'll be going over some of the Draft prospects between now and early June, keying mostly on the first round or two. Today, I have some info on seven who will be called early. Of course, opinions are subjective, and this far out, things will fluctuate quite a bit. Such as that, I encourage any Cubs fan to chip in their two cents, whether on the Sixth Pick in the first, or anything beyond
I hope Tom Ricketts continues to be willing to invest aggressively in incoming talent. I think Tom Ricketts and Tim Wilken will be a very good fit with the team of Theo Epstein and whoever Theo brings in to help. I continue to think that many of Wilken's more conservative picks from two drafts ago and before were due to a lack of financial commitment from above and a lack of system depth. Wilken may not value walks as much as Epstein, and may be more willing to gamble early on high schoolers. I think those three will start to send a clear message of "We want non-troublemakers with upside, and ability to throw strikes and get on base, preferably with some semblance of power" to the scouts.
Make no mistake, Epstein is not a Moneyball purist. Given a budget, he's perfectly willing to spend (even big) on high school pitching. Don't expect prep pitching from the first pick, though. Over his last six drafts in Boston, Epstein has drafted (in his first 4 picks) two pitchers and two hitters 4 times. Once, he drafted 3 hitters, once 3 pitchers. He will draft sluggers, speedsters, or whatever seems to leap off the board as best available. Be mindful, he will value offensive production, with walks considered very productive. I'm not sure what he prefers in pitchers, other than 'college guys with a legitimate history trump high school pitchers'.
Here are some guys that will come off the board early. The eye candy HS pitchers will not be drafted by Epstein with the sixth pick, if history serves as a proper guide. To that end, I hope Giolito and Fried go Top 5.
Mark Appel- Stanford RHP. His ability projects better than his college numbers, but he's been really good in the Pac 10/12/24/64 or whatever they call themselves this week..
Byron Buxton- GA HS OF. Georgia commit. Throws 94. Won't be a pitcher. Yeah, he can hit some. Bubba Starling of 2012? Plus speed, and a strong arm. Projects in CF.
Gavin Cecchini- LA HS SS- Theo drafted his brother in the 4th round in 2010. Gavin represents a top ten pick. It would be a Theo-style pick.
Max Fried- CA HS LHP. 6-3 170. Mid 90-s fastball. Second best pitcher in HS this year. Also, second best on his team.
Kevin Gausman- LSU RHP- He usually falls out of people's Top 5 in Mocks, but not by much. A sophomore that struggled in the SEC as a freshman, but most freshmen do that there. He will be a top ten selection, my early call to be a Cub.
Lucas Giolito- CA HS- Mid 90's easy gas. Bumps it to 98. His curve is his best pitch. He won't see the 6th pick without a new hat already broken in.
Mike Zunino- Florida C-Very solid hitter. Another Theo-style pick. His dad is a scout for the Reds. Strikes out too much, but walks quite a bit. Already plays at a professional level behind the plate. OPS over 1.1 last season with a composite bat in the SEC.