Dustin Geiger, first baseman, 6-2, 180
Drafted in the 24th round in 2010
Probable landing spot in 2014: Double-A Tennessee
Rule 5 eligible in 2014
Some of my perceptions are wrong. I don't specifically like that, but in a world with imperfect information, and my (opinions/take on facts) a bit off on occasion, sometimes I will mislead you. Not by design, but by what I take to be accurate. It is my perception that, in the past, the Cubs tended to under-scout, and settle for lower-shelf talent.
Whether it's been historically true or not, it really isn't any more. The last time was Dustin Geiger's class of 2010. After that, the front-office has been pushing maxima every time. The reason I bring up history when it comes to Geiger is his position. As a first baseman (now, he was drafted with dreams on the other side of the infield at third) in the system, the Cubs have (if memory serves) tended to take a rather odd route at the spot.
If you draft a first baseman as a first baseman, you have to do one of three things. One is be really sure. The Cubs efficiency at selecting first basemen/corner outfielders early in the draft has been, well, spotty. A second option that the Cubs have seemingly liked is also rather deplorable. Draft a guy ready to leave school, noting he had 'fair' college numbers. Send him to Arizona. Expect him to learn to be good enough to hit in the middle of the order.
What some teams do, pretty much every year with relative success, is something the Cubs are closing in on doing, I would guess. While you don't draft early on need, every year, your short season team will need a slugger-y guy in the heart of the order. Along those lines would have been, in the same draft, the Cubs grabbing Paul Hoilman in the 19th round for a limited bonus. Hoilman had two rather good years in the system before not catching on after being released in 2013. Hoilman was a short-term answer, and those are fine and understandable. On occasion. Like some Nutella.
What the Cubs will hopefully start doing at first base soon, and it wouldn't have made sense any sooner, is getting first base quality at a draft discount.
Now, the Cubs will probably draft a bit heavy on pitching in June. Not that anyone that matters would ask, but I would still lean toward pitching slightly over hitting, and defensively versatile players over non-versatile ones. Curiously, though, you know who else leans that way? About 29 other teams.
What will happen every year is that some quality hitting prospects will slip in the draft. Not because of bad college numbers, bad attitudes, or horrific defense, but due to lack of defensive flexibility: "We like that kid from (insert school here), but he's only a first baseman. And I'm not sold on him making the majors. So, lets draft the pitcher we had three looks at, and doesn't have a second pitch yet."
I understand the premise, but if a guy can really hit college pitching, and can play first base fairly well, is it that much of a reach for him to possibly have a future?
Some teams, like Milwaukee, seem to love drafting hitter-ish guys. I hope they do this for the next few decades. Much better for them to draft guys with no more defensive versatility than Corey Hart, and instead, not ponying up to sign Carlos Rodon out of high school. (The standard response? "He would have cost seven figures." My response: Now he'll cost seven million.)
Having first-base options like Geiger and Dan Vogelbach behind Anthony Rizzo is what teams do. The next wave will have some guys that hit well, but get defensively demoted to first base. Another case of math. But to assume a college guy from the twenty-mumbleth round should always be 'the next guy at first base' in a system is silly. And in the past.
Geiger hit as long of a home run as I've seen live from a Cubs prospect. The wall in left is over 340 feet in Quad City (sensational park), and his went four-fifths of the way up the berm, easily 400 feet. Geiger had an .824 OPS in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League last season for the league champs. He and Kris Bryant will be in the middle of the Tennessee Smokies order. He probably won't profile as the type of guy to get Rule 5'd, unless he has a great year.
For the same reason that college juniors and seniors that play first base get ignored early. That said, his numbers aren't horribly dis-similar from a first baseman who was a playoff starter as a rookie last year, the Athletics' Nate Freiman. Keep mashing, Dustin, and force a trade or a call-up.
But, mostly, I'm glad the Cubs system will soon be balanced enough to take solid-hitting college first basemen on draft-slippage. And in a few years, in articles like this one, we'll be discussing the relative merits of three or four similarly talented players at similar positions, up and down the system -- many of them threats to be decent big league regulars.