I've been a fan of the whodunit genre through the years. Be it book, television, or movie, the viewer/reader is given dribs and drabs of information up until the conclusion. In many cases, the primary suspect bounces from one character to he next. Nowadays, the primary always is in the interrogation room on tv. If at any time during the proceedings, you were asked to solve the crime, you'd be doing it without complete information. Such is the job of a baseball scout.
It's old news that the Cubs won't be involved in the first day of the June draft. They won't make any selection in the first two rounds of the draft. Which could send some back to the dark ages where draft picks were considered as much as wastes of time. You remember. When everyone thought that good players either/only went to other teams, or were bungled by the Cubs.
Scheduled to select 104th, the Cubs will do better than you think in the draft. As there haven't been any announcements of scouting layoffs, the talent evaluators that brought Cubs fans Kris Bryant,, Kyle Schwarber, and others, are still around. As long as you keep your expectations reasonable, the Cubs will do fine.
With the other division rivals loading up early, don't be envious. When the Brewers, Cardinals, Pirates, and Reds add quality talent, it's to be expected. Teams value the draft more than before. As noted before, coaching (before and after the draft) is better than it used to be.
The high-ceiling guys will go early, well before the Cubs draft. However, remember the whodunit episode? The draft is after the first 60 pages, or the advert around the twenty minute mark. The scouts can't be only about what is visible. A good scout has to see a bit of what isn't there.
The Brewers and Reds will get impressive looking talent in the dispersal. That's how it's supposed to work. How those players develop, into the last ten minutes (or pages) determines if the scout did his job. He'll also be judged on the draftee's health, which may or may not seem valid.
What is a reasonable expectation for the Cubs' 2016 draft? It will depend on the particular strategy chosen (Which is what they call a tease.), but the Cubs have displayed a bit of a strategy the last few drafts.
They draft hitters who control the zone. That shouldn't change.
They draft pitchers who change speeds. No need to change to alter that.
They draft guys you'd want your daughter or sister to date. No point in abandoning that, either.
With the talent in high school and pro baseball, plenty of talent will be available at the 104th pick. And every thirty picks thereafter. The serious downside is, no ace figures to be easily available. However, knowing the who in the whodunit normally only happened in Columbo, anyway.
Pick any team in MLB, other than the Cubs. Go back in the draft at least a decade. No, I'm being serious. Baseball Reference has solid draft history coverage. What would be a reasonable expectation for the Cubs 2016 draft?
Completely lacking any agenda, I chose the 1997 Giants. For no specific reason. And their results that year amplified, more than changed, my expectations.
They got little from the draft. Jason Grilli and Scott Linebrink were the two notables, with Kevin Joseph getting the proverbial cup of coffee. While teams have had worse drafts, that one is probably closer to adequate than some might think.
The Cubs will start when the second day of the draft does. My "acceptability range" for the 2016 selection process is as follows.
I fully expect the Cubs to add guys to fill spots (rather effectively) throughout the pipeline. Yea, I'm about the only one that cares about it, some might think. However, if a player is performing well while taking up a roster spot on a full-season team, it's more likely they'll do well in the future, if they do well at that level.
The Cubs will continue to stock good affiliates, because their evaluation processes and coaching have been very good recently. That's what I cover regularly at my site. However, if you don't mainline Myrtle Beach Pelicans and Tennessee Smokies games, you want stuff that's more.... measurable.
What I would hope for, along with guys that advance along, and get a mild shot, is two valid players.
It seems... reasonable.
I'd like the Cubs to get one player, somewhere in the draft, that provides eight wins above value. That could be in trade, or it could be on-field. Also, I'd like a second player over five wins-above. With the lack of early selections, that would be absolutely peachy. Anything better is a bonus. Also, co-incidentally, it's what that Tigers draft provided.
It's not that inconceivable.
If you're following the whodunit, the participants might have a percentage chance as the production continues. As the likelihood goes up on the brunette, the deceased's brother dips some. The spouse has an air-tight alibi, but the buddy from school can't be ruled out.
The player that gets chosen in the seventh or 17th round has a chance. That drops or increases with results, much like the possibility of the jilted lover in the whodunit.
To give an example, how could people have missed on Matt Carpenter?
When you look at his numbers, you see something that isn't all that uncommon. Carpenter was a good player at a good school in a good baseball conference. Carpenter was injured as a junior, and was granted a fifth year of eligibility. He needed all five years.
His redshirt junior season was solid enough, but nobody wanted him. In 50 rounds. After a senior year with an OPS over 1.000, he still lasted until the third day. He was good, but not spectacular, in the Midwest League. What happened with Carpenter was, he got better every season.
He never looked a cinch All-Star, until he became a viable All-Star.
That's how baseball works. A 13th-rounder as a fifth-year senior has a WAR over 14.
Scouts see the players like a whodunit fan sees a mystery genre opportunity. That kid from that mid-major in Oklahoma. He's a three percent chance guy. He has a chance to....
It's about chances. Not guarantees, but chances.
The scouts who get it right, and the coaches who develop them are underrated visionaries. The Cubs have a number of third day draft picks that will be tempting trade options this July. Development isn't all about Kris Bryant and other big names. If the process is sound, the results should follow.
I'm spending far less time monitoring draft boards this time around. Nonetheless, certain comments pique my interest. One recently has been that more prep arms than usual might come off the board early. I'm totally good with that thought-process.
When a team has a limited amount to spend, a prep arm figures to take up more of that amount than any other option. It should also leave more college talent available until "later".
The Cubs figure to be their due diligence regarding the draft. If (insert prep arm of note here) isn't interested in signing with the Cubs for around a $1 million bonus, may he be taken earlier. That would leave more viable options for later.
Watching this draft class will be more predictive of the future than prior draft classes. Nobody's sure how it will play out. They can't be, with the uncertainty of the later selections. How do I think it will play out?
Maybe next time.