The Cubs said they were going to target pitching in the 2016 MLB Draft and they didn't mess around. Of the 38 picks the Cubs made, 27 were pitchers. But even that doesn't accurately explain how heavily they went for pitching. Of the 18 picks they made in the first 20 rounds (the Cubs did not have a first- or second-round pick), 16 were pitchers.
When not taking a pitcher, the Cubs picked two catchers, three outfielders and six infielders.
The Cubs were extremely limited in how creative they could get because on top of losing their first two picks, they lost the accompanying bonus pool money that went with them. So they had to concentrate on players who would sign, and that meant taking college players. They didn't take a high school player until the 22nd round. Of the 38 players they drafted, 24 were attending a four-year school, five were at a junior college and nine were high school players. But eight of the nine high schoolers were drafted after the 30th round. Players drafted that late are generally poor bets to sign. Most, maybe all, of the high school players were taken so the Cubs could have a chance to talk to them and get more information in order to draft and sign them in later years. For an example of this, the Cubs 23rd round pick, SS Delvin Zinn from Itawamba Junior College, was taken by the Cubs in the 28th round last year out of high school in Mississippi. There are probably also a lot of "you never know" picks going on here with the Cubs drafting these players on the off-chance that they could change their minds and sign cheaply.
On top of all that, the Cubs emphasized signability by taking ten college seniors. Seniors have very little in the way of leverage and are almost certain to sign.
I did a round-up of the second day draft picks for the Day 3 open thread. I'll reprint that here for your convenience.
3rd Round: RHP Tom Hatch, Oklahoma State U. Hatch was the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year after missing all of 2015 with an elbow injury that did not require surgery. He has an 89-94 mph fastball and an above-average slider. He doesn't wow scouts, but he certainly could become a solid back-end starter. In a bit of humor this afternoon after he was drafted, it was discovered that Hatch grew up a Cardinals fan. Back when he was in high school, he made a few cracks about hating the Cubs. Today Hatch said that he was thrilled to now be a Cub, asked Cubs fans to forgive him for his youthful mistakes and said "Go Cubs Go" and "Fly the W." No problem, Tom. We're cool. Hatch is a redshirt sophomore so he has some leverage to go back to school, but from his reaction today I think he's eager to get to Mesa and Eugene and I doubt the Cubs would have drafted him if they didn't already know that.
4th Round: RHP Tyson Miller, California Baptist U. Miller is the highest-drafted player ever from this Division II school. He's a big, 6'5" pitcher who can hit 91-93, but some scouts think he could still add some velocity. He also has a promising slider. He was very impressive in the Cape Cod League last summer, striking out 29 in 25 innings. He's been more of a ground ball than a strikeout pitcher in college though.
5th Round: RHP Bailey Clark, Duke U. Clark also was impressive in the Cape Cod League last summer, but he didn't really continue that success at Duke this spring. He lost velocity and his starting job and finished the year in the Blue Devils bullpen. Bailey does throw really hard though and at the start of this season, at least, he was hitting 98 mph. Some scouts think his motion leads to poor command, so that might be something the Cubs work on fine tuning. He's someone with some upside if he can put it together.
6th Round: RHP Chad Hockin, Cal-State Fullerton. The biggest thing that came out about Hockin is that he's the grandson of the late Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. The Indians also took his younger brother out of high school in the 2nd round in 2014. Hockin has closer stuff with a fastball that can hit 97-98, although at the moment, he has trouble hitting those speeds regularly and is normally in the 92-95 range. He's also got a power slider that comes in at 85-87 mph. Although he is a good size (6'2", 200 lbs.) his durability has been questioned.
7th Round: C Michael Cruz, Bethune-Cookman U. Cruz is a product of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. He's considered a good left-handed bat with power, but needs to work on catching to stay behind the plate. He lists Yadier Molina as his favorite player. So far as I know, he hasn't apologized for that. That's OK. We're still cool with him and welcome him to the Cubs family.
8th Round: RHP Stephen Ridings, Haverford College. A big 6'6" righthander who pitched for a Division III school. He can hit 91-93 mph with his fastball and his size was intriguing scouts late. Fun Fact: the only Haverford alum to ever play in the majors was Bill Lindsay, who played 19 games for Cleveland in 1911. He went on to have a successful career in the then still-independent Pacific Coast League.
9th Round: RHP Duncan Robinson, Dartmouth College. Another big 6'6" right-hander from Kyle Hendricks' alma mater, Robinson sounds a bit like Hendricks in that he makes up for average stuff with good control.
10th Round: RHP Dakota Mekkes, Michigan State U. Mekkes is another big (6'7" righthander) who led the NCAA in strikeouts per nine innings as a reliever with 15 per nine. But Mekkes really puzzles scouts because his stuff, objectively, is pretty pedestrian. His fastball is only low-90s and his slider is below average, according to the scouts. But somehow, no one can hit him. The best explanation seems to be that he throws strikes and his delivery keeps hitters from picking up the pitch until it's too late.
Since I wrote that, I saw Hatch and 12th Round pick Trey Cobb pitch for Oklahoma State. What I saw from Hatch is a right-hander with a 3/4 arm action and very good movement on all of his pitches. His velocity was solid, sitting 91-93 and he held that velocity going into the seventh inning. His stamina looked very good, which is important with him after missing all of last season. What I didn't see was one out-pitch. Often Hatch would get two quick strikes on a hitter, but he was unable to get a third strike past the hitter. But if he had a strong out-pitch, he probably would have been drafted 30 to 40 picks earlier.
Cobb has a weird delivery. The only way I can describe it is a hitch in his wrist when he reaches back in his windup. It's a kind of short wrist jerk. I guess if it works for you. Cobb got the save in both Cowboys wins over the weekend, so you should be able to see both of them pitch in the College World Series starting this weekend.
The rest of the Cubs draft picks were:
11. RHP Michael Rucker BYU
12. RHP Trey Cobb Oklahoma State
13. LHP Wyatt Short Ole Miss
14. RHP Parker Dunshee Wake Forest
15. RHP Jed Carter Auburn-Montgomery
16. RHP Holden Cammack Oral Roberts
17. SS Zack Short Sacred Heart U.
18. LHP Marc Huberman Southern California
19. RHP Matt Swarmer Kutztown U
20. LHP Garrett Freeman Alabama
21. C Samuel Tidaback North Georgia
22 LHP Dante Biasi Hazleton Area HS (PA)
23. SS Delvin Zinn Itawamba JC
24. 1B Rey Rivera Chipola College
25. 2B Trent Giambrone Delta State
26. RHP Austin Jones Wisconsin-Whitewater
27. CF Connor Myers Old Dominion
28. RHP Ryan Bassett Clark CC
29. RHP Tyler Peyton Iowa
30. RHP Montana Parsons San Jacinto JC
31. RHP Brenden Heiss Jacobs HS (IL)
32. OF Zach Davis Texas Tech
33. RHP Nathan Sweeney Cherry Creek HS (CO)
34. RHP Daniel Davis St. James School (AL)
35. 3B Ryan Kreidler Davis HS (CA)
36. SS Jake Slaughter Ouachita Christian HS (LA)
37. RHP Davis Moore Los Osos HS (CA)
38. OF Tolley Filotei Faulkner State JC
39. LHP Anthony Beck Newport HS (WA)
40. RHP D.J. Roberts Atlantic Coast HS (FL)
I don't have a lot to say about the final 30 selections, but I'll try to do my best. I already mentioned 12th round pick Cobb, but I'll add that his grandfather is Frank Linzy, who pitched in the majors from 1963 to 1974, primarily for the Giants. Eleventh round pick Michael Rucker has already agreed in principle to terms with the Cubs for something slightly over the $100,000 slot for any player taken after the tenth round. Rucker's stuff is pretty average, but he locates it well and throw strikes. He throws a 91-93 mph fastball, but there's some reason to believe he could sit 95 as a reliever.
Again, 14th round pick Wake Forest pitcher Parker Dunshee doesn't have great stuff, but he's the Friday Night starter for a solid ACC program, so you know he's a competitor.
I mentioned that the Cubs drafted 23rd round pick Zinn last season. He's considered to have the potential to be a top glove, but there are questions about his bat.
Rey Rivera is a giant, 6'6" left-handed junior college slugger. He's committed to South Alabama. Montana Parsons, the 30th-round pick, is committed to Baylor. He's a raw pitcher who needs to develop a breaking pitch.
Catcher Sam Tidaback is from Plainfield, Illinois and went to Providence Catholic High School. The other local player is Brenden Heiss from Algonquin, Illinois.
Thirty-eighth round pick Tolley Filotei is the son of a Cubs regional crosschecker.
Let's all welcome these players to the Cubs family.