I'm guessing more than a few of you have missed most of my draft prep articles. This year's draft is considered weak by many experts. This view is held by many scouts, as well. While the temptation could be to think that means there is little talent in the draft, that isn't accurate. When evaluating draft classes, evaluators like to focus on the "can't miss" types, like Bryce Harper or Kris Bryant. Those types aren't available. Hence, this is considered a weak draft.
The Cubs will have two selections in the Rule 4 draft tonight. Their first will be the ninth overall selection, as the Astros have a bonus selection (the second pick) for not signing Brady Aiken last year with the top choice. The Cubs will also select in the second round, with the 47th overall selection. The combinations-and-permutations machine would have to be running rather efficiently for me to peg a choice there with any accuracy, as each team has their own priority list, which will vary from the Baseball America list, obviously.
I have decided to group the potential options for 1.9 into three different groups. The first group will be players unlikely to be on the board for the Cubs selection. The second group will be players likely on the board, and likely under consideration. The third tier will be long-shots. If you are an aficionado of the draft, you likely have a site with more in-depth information than my list. I'm thumbnailing it, as I figure most people will become immediately disinterested in any player not selected by the Cubs. I could be wrong on that.
Alex Bregman, shortstop, LSU: While it's a bit doubtful Bregman sticks at short, he will probably be a solid starting second sacker for a string of years. He should be solid there, but the bat is the appeal here. He has had some gradual helium this draft season. He was pegged for coming off the board around ten in February, now is a cinch to go much earlier than that. Also, unlike other early-end picks, Bregman has stayed healthy.
Carson Fulmer, righthanded pitcher, Vanderbilt: A bit short for a pitcher at 6-0, he has stayed healthy, and put up solid numbers at Vandy. The temptation is to throw around a Sonny Gray comp. It may apply, but he figures to be gone between five and eight.
Brendan Rodgers, shortstop, HS (FL): Rodgers may or may not be able to stick at short, but already flashes some power. He'll likely be gone, but I think Gleyber Torres is better.
Dansby Swanson, shortstop, Vanderbilt: Swanson is more likely to stick at short than Bregman, and his bat is similar. Both ought to be solid regulars for their teams for close to a decade. But, still, people consider this a bad draft. The team that gets Swanson should be satisfied with the pick.
Andrew Benintendi, center fielder, Arkansas: The trendy pick of the week for the Cubs, he's also a potential for the Red Sox. A draft-eligible sophomore, some teams weren't in on Benintendi early. He might be able to stay in center, and his newly-found power seems legit in the SEC.
Ian Happ, second base/outfield, Cincinnati: Happ is a switch-hitter with a wide range of offensive skills. Nobody is sure where Happ will play, but he should be solid somewhere, a bit in the Josh Harrison mold.
Jon Harris, righthanded pitcher, Missouri State: Harris has been a bit inconsistent, but at his best, has four quality offerings.
Tyler Jay, lefthanded pitcher, Illinois: Perhaps Jay should be in the upper tier. His fastball is easy mid-90s, and he has a slider and change with upside as well. He has been used almost exclusively as a reliever in Champaign, which can be a good thing, or a bad thing. He could appear to be all Brandon Finnegan, and get hurried to the majors as a reliever, but it's doubtful the Cubs brass see it that way. He has limited innings, so the Cubs might try to get more than the standard "20 innings or so before he gets shut down" if he is the guy.
Dillon Tate, righthanded pitcher, UC Santa Barbara: A month ago, Tate was looking like a 1.1 candidate, but he scuffled down the stretch. Someone might get an absolute bargain in Tate. He throws in the mid-90's, and has usable secondaries.
Brady Aiken, lefthanded pitcher, IMG Academy: The top pick last year went unsigned on injury concerns. And proceeded to get injured. If a teams medics read this one right, he could still be a very good pitcher. Or, he could be hurt for much of the next few years. This will be a choice based on who buys into his health, and medical reports. I'm not buying the Cubs selecting him, but I wouldn't be shocked.
Donny Dewees, outfield, North Florida: He is a very quick leadoff man type, and rarely strikes out. I somewhat buy the chatter, particularly if he signs an early deal, saving cash for later.
Kyle Funkhouser, righthanded pitcher, Louisville: Funkhouser hasn't really been hurt, but his 95 mile per hour fastball has been erratic this season. He walks too many guys. He could be a candidate for Bosmosis, but I doubt the Cubs burn the ninth pick on him.
James Karpielian, righthanded pitcher, UCLA: More of a pitcher than a thrower, I include him as the Cubs scuted him rather recently. He has good secondaries.
Michael Matuella, righthanded pitcher, Duke: Matuella throws really hard. Matuella has a herd time staying healthy. I doubt the Cubs want to burn a pick on a guy that could end up as a regular on the 60-day disabled list.
Kevin Newman, shortstop, Arizona: a speedy shortstop who doesn't strike out very often, Newman has had a slow but steady rise this season. I'll put him here.
Prep Outfielders: This draft features some rather premium high-school outfielders. Some of them hit for average, some for power. Some are very good glove men. As none of them seem to sound like they will do it all, I'd prefer the Cubs go with something more safe and immediate. I will cheer for any team burning a pick on one of these guys before the Cubs. Ones in this category include
Trenton Clark (TX)
Daz Cameron (GA) (The son of Mike Cameron)
Nick Plummer (MI)
Kyle Tucker (FL)
Garrett Whitby (NY)
Last week, Kiley McDaniel won the internet. His Draft Sorter is far beyond anything I could fathom. Enjoy, and I'll see you tonight around 6 p.m. Central time. The Cubs will draft two players tonight, and I request you be respectful of them, even if you disagree with the pick. We will have potential new followers, and nobody wants to read things that are overly critical of a friend or family member.