Regardless how well-touted, many of these guys will be severely over-matched. Possibly for the first time in their baseball life. The key to a good scout is not to see what's there, but to see what will be there after years of tutelage. Many of the high school draftees are used to crushing straight 80 MPH fastballs. How will they adjust to off-speed stuff? How about a 91 MPH splitter? Or 95 MPH fastballs on either corner? Or just off it?
As the draft is just over two weeks away, I thought I'd look at reasonable expectations for this year's draft. Gauging how well a youngster will develop toward the big leagues is an impressive challenge. When many of the signees report to base camp (Arizona for the Cubs signees), the ragtag bunch of (often) recent signees will be the best players they've played against.
How will a pitcher adjust to his top fastball being returned to him without the benefit of the catcher. Can the outfielder track a ball, set, and throw to nail a speedy runner at the plate? Yeah, projecting can be tough.
So what sort of time-frame can we expect on results? Part will depend on whether we lead with a high school player or a college vet. A Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, or Kyle Zimmer will stay in Arizona long enough to have their urine analyzed and read the "Cubs Way" manual. My guess is, they'd get a two- or three-inning appearance, then head to Boise or Peoria for probably a half-dozen pitch-counted starts. If Mike Zunino's name is called, he would follow a similar path, though he might finish the season in Peoria, with hopes of being the opening day catcher at "The Jack" in Daytona in 2013.
If it's a high schooler, you'll have to expect to be patient. Regardless what the radar gun says on a Lucas Giolito or a Max Fried, their upper-end starting point in 2013 would be Peoria. Similar for Carlos Correa or Albert Almora. It's likely the hitters would see Boise in 2013. Any of them will have a lot to learn. If three of our 42 selections (really) are solid major leaguers for us, it will be a terrific draft. From injuries, to inability to adjust, to not being good enough to be solid big leaguers. It is really tough to be among the 700 best at it.
To say that a player is a whiff if they miss the bigs is usually inaccurate. Not only the competition, but injuries, untimely slumps, and delays in mastering specific aspects of your skills can all derail players. There is always someone in your system trying to take your time from you. As cordial as teammates are, most of them like to think they can do well if given the shot.
Each step, from Arizona or the Dominican, they must prove themselves, yet again. Of the 42 drafted, about 25 will probably sign. A few more undrafted players will sign on as well. Most won't come remotely close to the majors. Many of them will be very successful if they extend themselves to High A Ball. While the Cubs love advancing players to Wrigley, the good teammate helps out as well. Some will be traded for guys that may help a contender. Paul Hoilman hasn't left Peoria yet, but is in two team record books. Despite not getting a signing bonus, he has the Boise single-season homer mark, and the hit streak record in Peoria.
In other words, to find out if they are doing as well as we hoped they would, check out Josh's updates every day. Take in a game live if time and space permit. My nutshell is the following: if the Cubs do well over the next six or so years, this upcoming class will help in the success. If 2018 has us fretting who will go off the board first, something probably went rather wrong with this draft class.
If you have questions about the upcoming draft, fire away below. I will try to answer them.