On a few previous occasions in this space, I've looked at specific rounds of specific drafts. What does a fifth round look like? How about a third round? As the draft is now less than a month away, for this post I've opted to look at two specific draft slots -- the 34th and 41st overall picks. Obviously, the 41st is due to the Cubs selection there. The 34th happens to be the Royals' trade-eligible 'Competitive Balance' selection.
With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, small-market teams have the opportunity to receive picks between the first and second round, or the second and third rounds. These picks, and only these picks, can be traded. If dealt, they must be traded for players, and can only be swapped once. Two trades have included these newly minted selections. The Tigers and Marlins exchanged picks with Jacob Turner and Anibel Sanchez being the main draws of the swap. The Pirates traded theirs last season for first baseman Gaby Sanchez, with minor league players going both ways. The Indians lost theirs when they signed Michael Bourn.
Since my look at pick 41 needs something for comparison, pick 34 seemed perfectly reasonable. To be sure, neither pick provides any sort of certainty. With the aid of Baseball Reference, here are the results historically of the noted draft slots.
Top Three by WAR: Fred Lynn 49.9; Dan Plesac 17.6; Joba Chamberlain 7.2. Total at or above 5 WAR; 5
You've gotta be kidding me alert: Both Lance McCullers, father and son, were selected 41st.
Top Three by WAR: Mark Gubicza 38; Bruce Bochte 19.2; Arthur Rhodes 15.4. Total at or above 5 WAR; 5.
Best current players chosen 34th overall: Todd Frazier and Rex Brothers
In other words, when you're drafting from mid-30's to early 40's, it really is a crapshoot. That said, there is talent available. I would lean toward a college arm with the 41st overall choice. However, if the Cubs do find a way to trade for the Royals' pick at 34, I'd probably be open to grabbing a prep with one of the selections.
On a more traditional note, Baseball America recently released their Top 100 prospect list. I'm not going to represent being smarter at talent evaluating than guys who do this for a living. I imagine the Cubs will have a list somewhat similar, and for the first X number of rounds, take a guy near the top of the 'who's left' list. I'm thrilled to see so many college pitchers in the high-twenties to mid-forties. You can read the list well enough to note arms from Jacksonville, Gonzaga, Mississippi, LSU (Ryan Eades is pictured at the top of this post), Marshall, San Francisco, Oral Roberts, UC Irvine, and Minnesota in that range. Whichever of those pitchers the brass likes, get them running through the system in 2014, so the rotation can have some more help. In that way, guys that aren't ready yet can spend some time in the pen before stepping into the rotation. That, or succeeding in Triple-A.
Mark Appel was ordinary this weekend. Stuff happens. He only lasted five innings, walked more than he fanned, and surrendered more hits than innings. He was tagged with the loss as Oregon State beat him 7-3.
Pushed back to Saturday, Jonathan Gray had a less-than stellar outing as well in a 4-3 loss to Oklahoma State. Gray fanned eight and walked three.
Here is a rather unsavory story about an international player lying to get signed. In this case, it seems to have backfired.