My draft coverage is veering a bit. The Cubs draft ninth, and I think I've seen about 20 names floated, be they in mocks or questions to experts in the field. My guess is that the list is down to about four names, and I have no idea which four. Instead of throwing darts at a list of the top thirty, I'm going to take three weeks to highlight what happens during the draft. As usual, I welcome your participation and questions.
I reserve the right to object to any decisions the Commissioner's Office makes, but they nailed one regarding the draft. Instead of the traditional Friday, Saturday, Sunday format, they' have switched to a Monday through Wednesday setup this time. This is relevant, as college baseball has a set schedule. This weekend is for conference tournaments. The following weekend is for the regionals, and the weekend following is when the draft would usually occur. Super-Regionals are when the 16 remaining teams battle, on the weekend, for spots in Omaha.
Draft day should find a a player with his family, friends, teammates, or whatever is comfortable for them. After the draft, once they've found out that Cleveland drafted them in the 19th round, or whatever, they can go back out and play. Pusjing yourself on the field is enough to worry about.
In the first round, a team really shouldn't bother with needs in baseball. As quickly as Kris Bryant ran through the Cubs system, it still took him almost two full years to reach the major league level. Some will get to the show quicker than that, but drafting on need in the first round is rather silly.
For instance, if a team decided, "We really need a catcher this year," they'd be kind of screwed. There aren't many catchers atop the draft, and the top one might be a prep, who wouldn't be ready for four years anyway.
Two main avenues exist in the baseball draft, and the Cubs have used both recently. In 2013, the Cubs drafted the best available option in Bryant. About the only ones upset with the selection are fans of the Rockies, Brewers, or Cardinals. The Cubs signed him for top dollar, and went rather conservatively through the rest of the draft.
The other option is to incorporate signing bonus money into the decision. While Kyle Schwarber might not have been the best on the board last June at 1.4, when coupled with his reduced signing bonus demands, the Cubs went with the underslot option. The Cubs were able to get Schwarber along with three prep arms on the second day, due to the cost savings.
Which way will the Cubs go this season? I have no idea. On draft night, I will be along for the ride. Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi is the latest trendy pick. A sophomore-eligible (he turns 21 by the signing deadline), Benintendi can play center, and has 17 homers this season. That sounds like a Theo type of player.
In the second round, the Cubs will choose with the 47th overall selection. I expect that will balance the other pick. In other words, if the Cubs draft an arm at 1.9, I'd expect a bat at 2.47. If the Cubs take a bat first, look for an arm second.
One concern this year stems from the parent club not being horrific last year. Their "slotted spending amount" is a bit over $7 million. They won't be able to go too far over $7.5 million without facing severe sanctions. They won't. The Cubs take these limits very seriously. While many teams sign players 'at slot' routinely (Each pick in the first ten rounds has a slotted amount assigned to it. Teams can heed or ignore each individual slot amount. They have to stay under their total limits to avoid penalty.). The Cubs don't. They go over-slot as needed, but try to stay under as often, and by as much, as possible. By doing that, they might be able to add a later-round pick with the excess.
If you've read my stuff so far, you like someone at 1.9. Let us know who you like in the poll. Next time, Day Two.