As it happens, I'm writing this paragraph on the afternoon of the first game of the season. Milwaukee is losing to the Giants. Devin Mesoraco just got his helmet hit with a backswing. Due to food poisoning, Sonny Gray won't start tonight. And the South Bend roster was named today. To use as a send-up, I will use Casey Bloomquist as an example. How has Bloomquist, a pitcher, done so far this season? Will his success, or lack thereof, continue? As some of you have no idea of who Bloomquist is, your opinions might be rather haphazard.
A lack of knowledge can crush a draft class.
Bloomquist was a 2015 17th-round selection out of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. He pitched in nine games as a 2015 pro, starting four of them. His key point was walking only two hitters in just under 21 innings. With that information, and his .71 WHIP, you're welcome to come up with a projection how he will have done by late-May. You might be reasonably accurate, or waaaaaay off.
By seeing into the future, and accurately assessing trends, a scout can help his system get better. Unlike the football and basketball drafts, there will be a severe lag. And, the scout can choose the "right" guy, but the production can be all "wrong". The development staff somewhat has to be taken as a whole. Despite that, a solid organization has to evaluate each person on their own merits.
The Cubs are going to draft (probably) 48 players. They will sign a few more draft-eligible types as free agents. Quite a few of these players will out-perform their draft spot.
The Cubs have the coaching, facilities, and infrastructure to give players what they need to succeed. The brass is also rather well aware of where the talent is. And, with the coaching glut, the talent is widely dispersed. If you were to watch a game from a southern college site, with "Friday night starters" going, you might well see some good future pro players. It isn't "Are they talented?" (They are.), it's if they will get better as pros once they are full-time athletes.
On my timeline, I have routine commentary on this player or that up-shooting his draft stock. From Seth Beer to Nick Senzel, guys that were incidental types are now college stars, even though some (like Beer) aren't draft eligible. On down the line, it seemed rather needless to invest hours every weekend to try to guess who the Cubs will get at 104. Or beyond.
How does a good scout pull it off?
He has to have a good read (as opposed to knowing, which isn't viable) on what a player will do five to 10 years out. Which is an acquired skill. Part of it is reading numbers, and part of it is getting inside the player's psyche, and part of it is seeing the future.
The Cubs front office is rather confident at their development skills, if they get the guys they want.
Now, we jump back to present day. Jason Heyward made a play that will get discussed for decades, perhaps. (I don't think it was a catch, as when the ball fell out, it wasn't on the transfer. Dexter Fowler should have tossed the ball immediately. Preferably without hitting anyone. But don't jump me on this if my opinion has since been debunked. That isn't the point.) The Cubs are doing "rather well," and both Chicago teams have one really good starting pitcher.
And, in the last 48 hours, I've realized something. None of the Cubs blogs seem to be giving the draft any run-up consideration. I cast my interest aside about a month ago. It appears that almost everyone is completely mainlining the parent club. (This isn't a surprise, but an assessment.) And catching highlights on the prospects. (Josh's Minor League Wrap is still worth the read every time.) Al asked me to write about the draft, and my first three pieces were rather player-non-specific.
In the last day or so, I've flipped on the switch again. People are far more interested in criticizing Travis Wood for being Travis Wood, or hyping trades for Ryan Braun or Mike Trout, than doing the slightest homework on the draft. Where there is a vacuum, I guess I might as well fill it.
From the Baseball America link, I did what I do. I looked between 94 and 117, and started thwacking players. As the Cubs won't draft a prep in the third round, they went away. Grindy middle-infielders that seem glove first types went away, as well. Relievers, I like, but not with a top pick. Bye, Felicia.
I came up with three bats, one arm, and a pair of hashtags.
76. Lucas Erceg, 3B/P, Menlo College. He might have to slip a bit to get to the Cubs, but the team ought to be able to send top scouts after him to find out if he's worth the bother. (It's a soft "c" like cereal, not a hard "c" like cello.)
107 Logan Gray, 3B/OF, Austin Peay State. Slugger guy that draws walks. No idea on the glove.
108. Brett Cumberland, C, California. He has some power (Double digit homers.), walks about as much as he strikes out, and he's a real catcher. I think.
117. Mike Shawaryn, P, Maryland. Not flashy, but the Cubs seem to run the other way from flashy pitchers.
At least now, you have some names to consider. My hashtags I'm using are #Cubs104 (for the third round selection) and #CubsDraft2016 (for guys after the first round). The draft seems 'hit-and-run' enough for tweets to be preferable over short articles.
As long as you don't expect too much from this draft, you might be positively surprised with the results. Once you wait until 2020.
And, who knows? My site might take the second and third days of the draft very seriously. I know I'll tweet quite a bit then. From memory, BCB will have coverage as well.