2014 MLB Draft Prep Expands Its Focus

USA TODAY Sports

1.4 is coming into view. Can there be a benefit?

Early in the draft season (February, I seem to remember), the Cubs were said to be down to five or six guys on their short list. As it appears now, if Jeff Hoffman has two good starts between now and mid-May, it should be down to four. With Carlos Rodon, Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, and Hoffman lengths ahead of the field for a projected career arc, what are a team of scouts to do? While the 'path of least resistance' crowd might think 'chill, babe, that isn't the job of a scout. Perhaps, they should expand their focus.

I will admit to a few inaccuracies in that. First, the 'scouts' concept isn't a universal. Like 'armies' on a Risk board, each scout is an individual. Darnell McDonald, if being used as a scout on a given Friday, will likely have but one assignment. Or Ted Lilly, or any of the horde. Continuing the Risk analogy (a board game where you specify where you want your defensive/offensive attacking pieces on a globe-representative board), you can put four scout chips at a Rodon game, or an Aiken game if you want. However, you have a specific number of scout chips. Each pair of eyes on Kolek can't be anywhere else.

And the Cubs will likely have a chance at one (or a maximum of two) of the four.

Is the team better served having a plethora of eyes seeing what they've already seen? And likely won't be able to select anyway? Or should they sent a stream of scout chips out to guys they have on the board for the second and third round instead, answering questions about them.

The second inaccuracy is that I really doubt that Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod, or maybe a few other top names will tip their hand by going to watch, for instance, Jackson Reetz, a catching prospect in Nebraska. Yes, they want eyes on the major options at 1.4, and their first-hand opinion probably applies most there. Also, showing up at a game of second, third, or fourth round importance may tip their hand in a way that does the club little benefit.

I heard it mentioned before I had any clue what was going on that execs, like Epstein and Hoyer, make the calls on top picks, like 1.4. If someone is pushing for a Erick Fedde or an Alex Jackson still as anything more than an emergency option (like if someone suffers an injury in the next five or so weeks), then the scouts can be sent to the players in question's games. However, if it is looking like it will be a case of, 'take the guy that is left of the four at 1.4', then it makes sense to use more scouts researching 2.4 and 3.4.

It's nice having a bunch of good scouts.

****

It isn't just me thinking the first four have been largely determined. MLB.com's Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo did a pair of top ten mocks. Both had Houston (at 1.1) taking different players. However, by the Cubs' pick, the same four players were selected in the first four picks.

Despite the uncertainty with injuries and all, I'm still good with taking any of the four. I'm least sold on Rodon, but I have confidence (though not complete, by any stretch) that Cubs coaches can tweak any weaknesses. My concerns with Rodon continue to be a perceived lack of athleticism and a lack of command in the zone. Either can be adjusted a bit in the minors, where winning and losing (unlike in college) take a back seat to development. And, yes, I have the night of the first round off of work.

One other horrible-ish thought I had putting this together is as follows. You know this spike in pitching injuries? What if it isn't a spike? What if 30 Tommy John surgeries is the new normal for a MLB year? When you draft a pitcher, it could be almost assumed that he will miss a year in recovery time. We don't want that by any means. However, pitchers need innings to develop, and all-too-often, those innings seem to cause season long rehab-requiring surgeries. If that could be the case, and nobody has explained the current scourge to exclude that option, that bringing in guys who might lose their career on a surgeon's table is going to be the standard.

Drafting a pitcher in the first round may look like horrible odds. But drafting any pitcher in any round can be like playing Risk with a four-sided die (instead of a standard six) against an eight. But if that might be the new cost of business, perhaps Low-A squads should have a large amount of teenth-round draft picks and international signees in the outfield, infield, and behind the plate. Far wiser people than I am are really concerned about the rash of pitcher injuries. And have no more solid answers than I do.

So, I guess, send all those excess scouts to get eyeballs on pitchers. And have the sleuth-scout types (researchers who check on finances, addictions, and whether the youngsters have legal or other similar type problems) check on if the young pitchers have taken a few months off of pitching the last twelve months.

This look at options for 2.4 is well-done, and was included in last week's article that never was submitted. I'm proud of it, but I don't think the article needs to be read. Most articles are for the readers. That one was for the writer.

*****

Kolek finished his high school season with a 4-1 loss. Kerry Wood was in attendance.

Hoffman took the week off.

Rodon was workmanlike in a dispatching of a good Coastal Carolina team, and future pro Tyler Herb.

Rodon, Feddee, Jackson, and Alex Conforto are all clients of Scott Boras. So you know.

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