While the plan on the first day of the 2015 MLB Draft for just about any team is to pursue the Best Available, the second day has a different view. The atmosphere in the draft room is probably all "Family Feud after the third wrong answer" leading up to the third round selection. However, shortly thereafter, the goal is a little different.
One of the main aims on the second day of the draft is to "Balance The System." Every team needs pitching. Every team needs hitting. They have four full-season squads and at least two short-season squads to populate. A front office ought to do an honest needs assessment before each draft, from top to bottom.
In the first few years of the Cubs' new front office regime, the plan on the second day of the draft has been to go heavy on pitching. Why? As recently as 2013, their Midwest League affiliate was ranked a distant 16th in ERA. By "distant 16th," I mean they weren't particularly close to the 15th-ranked squad. The league has 16 teams. By aggressively pursuing pitching, that portion of the puzzle has been remedied at the lower levels. This should bubble up higher as time progresses.
However, by drafting so many pitching options, the hitting is taking a mild beating. No, this has little to do with the parent club. However, the South Bend Cubs are trotting out a few players each night that are closer to (or beneath, even) the .200 mark than should be happening. While the "Winning doesn't matter" meme plays here, when too many players aren't hitting, there is a bit of a problem. Regardless the level.
A completely balanced team would lean five pitchers and five hitters in the top 10 picks. A team that is a bit pitching-depressed might opt for six or seven arms while the best top-end talent is still available. I think the Cubs might go six hitters/four pitchers this time around.
"But, but, but, best talent available."
At a certain point on Day Two, the difference between the top guy on your board, and a guy fifty below becomes a matter of preference. The Cubs prefer pitchers that change speeds effectively, and hitters that draw walks. Other teams may prefer velocity and speed. Their mileage may vary.
While South Bend could trot out a middling shortstop option from their bench after Gleyber Torres moves to Myrtle Beach, burning a second-day pick, in the range of a fifth- or sixth-rounder, makes sense. Pitchers will still be needed, as will hitters. Mixing and matching is a solid way to fill in the spots that need help, and still grab solid talent and fortify all the rosters.
The last two rounds (the ninth and 10th of the draft) will often be "on the cheap" selections, to save cap space for other selections. If a 10th-round pick allows you to spend $100,000 extra on someone else, he has already helped the system. As a point of reference, five hitters have been drafted in what would be the second day under the new brass. Only ninth-rounder Chadd Krist isn't still around, and I sense that selection was financially motivated.
The others have been Charcer Burks, Stephen Bruno, Jake Hannemann, and Mark Zagunis. All have done well, at least as far as they were second-day selections. Adding a few viable bats into the system would "push" the hitters already in full-season ball. Or else.
The first round selections are becoming a bit more clear. A few too many options are in question, but it appears the Cubs won't be pushed into drafting a less-than-preferred option out of the gate. Below is a list of players that ought to be gone by the time the Cubs select, or shortly thereafter. They are in no specific order.
Brendan Rodgers, shortstop, HS Florida
Dansby Swanson. shortstop, Vanderbilt
Alex Bregman, shortstop, LSU
Tyler Jay, lefthanded pitcher, Illinois
Carson Fulmer, righthanded pitcher, Vanderbilt
Dillon Tate, righthanded pitcher,Santa Barbara
These figure to go anywhere between five and 15.
Daz Cameron, center fielder, Georgia
Kyle Funkhouser, righthanded pitcher, Louisville
Kyle Tucker, outfielder, HS Florida
Andrew Benintendi, outfielder, Arkansas
Walker Buehler, righthanded pitcher, Vanderbilt
Ian Happ, outfielder/second baseman, Cincinnati
Mike Nikorak, righthanded pitcher, HS Pennsylvania
I'm not sold on prep outfielders. I figure they have too much of a Josh Vitters type of future for my preference. In any fashion, whoever gets selected in the first two rounds, plenty of talent wil be selected to the organization on the second day.
Questions, if you have them, are welcomed.