The draft is now over for another year and the long task of signing and developing these players has begun. We've made a big point about how important the draft is for developing a winning ball club (just look at the Cardinals, for example), but the sad truth of the matter is that if the Cubs get two quality major league ballplayers out of the 40 players they selected, they will have had a solid draft. The Cardinals got five quality players out of the 40 they selected in the 2009 draft, and that draft class is going down as one of the greatest in recent time.
If you want to know who the Cubs took on the first day, check out my first day recap. If you're interested in who the Cubs took in rounds three through 10 on day two, check out the recap for that here.
The third day is the day that teams take a chance on players who dropped because of bonus demands or injuries. The rest of the players taken are just meant to be filler for minor league teams. Of course, every once in a while one of those "filler" players turns out to be a quality major league ballplayer. It's rare, but it does happen every year.
Here is the complete Cubs draft:
- Kyle Schwarber C/OF Indiana University
- Jake Stinnett RHP Maryland
- Mark Zagunis C Virginia Tech
- Carson Sands LHP North Florida Christian HS
- Justin Steele LHP George County HS (MS)
- Dylan Cease RHP Milton HS (GA)
- James Norwood RHP St. Louis University
- Tommy Thorpe LHP Oregon
- James Farris RHP Arizona
- Ryan Williams RHP East Carolina
- Jordan Brink RHP Fresno State
- Tanner Griggs RHP Angelina College (TX)
- Kevonte Mitchell 3B Kennett HS (MO)
- Chesny Young 2B Mercer College (GA)
- Jeremy Null RHP Western Carolina (NC)
- Jason Vosler SS Northeastern
- Michael Knighton RHP Central Alabama CC
- Austyn Wills RHP Barstow HS (CA)
- Brad Markey RHP Virginia Tech
- John Tomasovich SS Charleston Southern University
- Charles White OF Maryland
- Joey Martarano 3B Boise State
- Isiah Gilliam OF Parkview HS (GA)
- Daniel Spingola CF Georgia Tech
- Tyler Pearson C Texas Tech
- Zach Hedges RHP Azusa Pacific
- Calvin Graves CF Franklin Pierce University (NH)
- Jacob Niggemeyer RHP Olentangy Liberty HS (OH)
- Gianni Zayas RHP Seminole State
- Michael Cantu C Foy H. Moody HS (TX)
- Brad Deppermann RHP East Lake HS (FL)
- Andrew Ely 2B Washington
- Brad Bass RHP Lincoln-Way Central HS (IL)
- Steven Kane RHP Cypress College (CA)
- Jordan Minch LHP Purdue
- D.J. Peters OF Glendora HS (CA)
- Riley Adams C Canyon Crest Academy (CA)
- Daniel Wasinger C Eastlake HS (TX)
- David Petrino C Central Arizona College
- Diamond Johnson CF Hillsborough HS (FL)
After the 10th round, teams don't lose bonus slot money, so the Cubs took several "tough signs" with the knowledge that if they didn't sign, the Cubs would have lost nothing.
Jordan Brink from Fresno State is one of them. Like Jake Stinnett whom the Cubs selected in the second round, Brink is a recent convert to pitching. He's still raw but has flashed major league stuff at times.
Tanner Griggs will have to be bought out of a commitment to Texas A&M--Corpus Christi
Jeremy Null is huge (6'7" or 6'8" depending on the source) and was projected to go in the top five rounds before an injury saw his stock drop. He profiles as a future relief pitcher.
Isiah Gilliam is an interesting case, as some confusion about his eligibility for this draft (until recently he was thought to be in the 2015 draft class) meant that most teams had to scramble to scout him. He's considered a raw but natural hitter. He'll be a tough sign as well.
Joey Martarano comes from Boise State and the interesting thing about that is that Boise State doesn't have a baseball team. In fact, he's projected to be a starting linebacker for the football team this fall. But he played baseball in high school and was a powerful slugging third baseman. There's no chance that he'll leave football behind because he said it's his lifelong dream to play football for Boise State (he's redshirted there before this season) but it does sound like this might be a case where he plays for the Boise Hawks over the summer and then reports to the Broncos after that. It sounds like he very much wants to do that, so here's a case where the Cubs having a minor league affiliate in Boise is a great help.
Michael Cantu is a big powerful catcher who, like Schwarber, may not be able to stay behind the plate. The Cubs will have to buy him out of a strong commitment to Texas.
D.J. Peters and Riley Adams have strong commitments to Cal-State Fullerton and San Diego respectively.
One note on Dylan Cease, taken in the sixth round on Friday. I noted that he was considered a top three rounds pick (maybe even as high as the mid-first round, actually) but then he developed elbow issues which he is trying to fix through rehabilitation. Cubs scouting director Jason MacLeod says the team expects that Cease will undergo Tommy John surgery eventually. They also believe that the Cubs will be able to sign him.
MacLeod also insisted that they had Schwarber as the second-best talent in the draft, although he acknowledges that other teams may have had him closer to number ten or fifteen. You can believe him or not, but the fact of the matter is that this is a very subjective process and every team values certain skills differently.
No one doubts Schwarber's ability to hit, however, and the Cubs clearly are planning to use the money they saved on Schwarber and Stinnett on tough signs in later rounds. Both players were projected by almost everyone to go in the first and second rounds anyway, although perhaps not as high as where the Cubs selected. Sands, Steele and Cease are high-upside high school pitchers that the Cubs are going to use their saved bonus money to sign. I have no doubt that the Cubs would not have drafted them in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds if they weren't 99% sure they had the bonus pool money to sign them.
That brings up another point, and I wish I could remember who said it first. I believe it was someone from Baseball America. If you're going to have these hard bonus pool limits, then there really isn't any reason for a draft. Teams should be able to just spend their bonus money on whomever they want. If one team wants to blow it all on Brady Aiken and then just sign low bonus players the rest of the way, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to do this. You could still foster "competitive balance" by giving the worse teams bigger bonus pools, like they do now. The purpose of the draft was to limit bonuses paid out to amateur players. With essentially a hard cap on what teams can spend (you can go over but the consequences are major), the actual draft becomes superfluous.
You man not draft for need in the first round, but the Cubs definitely drafted for need after that, trying to fill holes in the system at starting pitcher and catcher. Here's a breakdown of the 40 players the Cubs took:
19 position players
Of the 21 pitchers, there were 17 right-handers and 4 lefties. I'm sure they would have liked more southpaws, but three of the four left-handed pitchers they took were among their first eight picks.
Of the 19 position players, there were:
2 third baseman
2 second baseman
The Cubs naturally took a lot of players from the traditional hot beds of amateur baseball talent. They took:
6 from California
4 from Florida
4 from Texas
4 from Georgia
They also took 2 from Indiana, 2 from Missouri and one from Illinois.
So, to answer the question that all of you are asking: Was this a good draft? Ask me again in three years. Schwarber wouldn't have been my choice, although I respect his hitting ability. No one, including the Cubs, thinks he can remain behind the plate. If teams thought he could remain a catcher, he might have been the first pick in the draft. The Cubs think he can play left field, and if so, then Schwarber could be an impact player. The list of players at 6'0" and under and 240 pounds or more who play the outfield is small, although it's not non-existent. Marlon Byrd is one such player. Schwarber is athletic despite his size. If he can drop 20 pounds, he might have enough speed and range to play at a corner outfield position. If he does that, I like the pick a lot more.
I don't think it was a bad choice at all, just not the one I would have made. But of course, the Cubs brain trust knows about 1000 times more about this stuff than I do.
But in addition to that, taking Schwarber allowed them to take those three high-upside arms in the middle of the second day. (Although there were lots of players they could have taken at No. 4 that would have allowed them to do the same thing.) The Cubs were in a bad spot as the fourth pick in a three-player draft. They made the move for the player they liked the best and then went aggressively after tough signs in the later rounds. It was as good a strategy as any in the situation they were in. If the Cubs connect and get a major league starting pitcher out of just one of the overslot picks they made in the later rounds, then it will have been a good draft. But that chapter won't be written for three or four years at the earliest.