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2017 MLB Draft Prep And Kris Bryant

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What does the reigning N.L. MVP have to do with this year’s draft? Plenty, as it turns out.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Frightened and confused, she looked to her daughter. Then, she looked back at the nurse, who was about to ask her an assessment question, a question designed to test to check on alertness. “What day is it?” The patient looked back at her daughter, who knew fully well it was Friday. “I can’t help you with this one. You have to answer it on your own.” “Is it... Tuesday?”

Sometimes, it’s good to be able to answer questions on your own.

Kris Bryant is an ideal spot for me to begin rounding up the draft run-up. While he clearly isn’t in this year’s selection process, and the Cubs are down quite a bit further than in 2013, he serves as a wonderful backdrop. For more reasons than you think.

Kris Bryant and Jon Gray weren’t supposed to go second and third. Sean Manaea, Phil Bickford, Austin Meadows, Clint Frazier, and others were supposed to roll the competition. By closely watching the horse race, I was able to have data points for what it takes to jump from 60-something to three, and thirty-something to two.

It becomes a bit of a reflex, deciding when to move someone up. That draft taught me plenty among the main lessons being that draft lessons can be learned. They aren’t oracled to a few specific writers.

Yeah, scouting skills help. Seeing players is nice, as well. However, this is the 20-teens. You can become a faux expert on anything with a couple of hours online.

Yep. You, also, can become conversant in the draft.

“But. I don’t want to. I’d rather rely on Jim Callis and a few others. Let them tell me if the Cubs did well.”

“Is it... Tuesday?”

***

To become a certified, or certifiable, draftnik takes many hours, and a few sideskills. Being able to take and chronicle video would help. Ability to hobnob with scouts? Nearly a must. Aware of coaches across the country, both in the high school and college ranks? Yup.

However, to be able to hold your own justifiable opinion doesn’t take much more a week than the time to watch a 10-minute inning of baseball a day.

First, read the D1Baseball review every Saturday and Sunday morning. Take notes if you wish to have better recall. They’ll tell you who’s doing well. And often why.

Choose a team to follow, and check their box scores. Who’s getting it done? When are they draft-eligible?

Follow Ben Badler, John Sickels, Michael Lananna on Twitter. Ask then questions you think are pertinent.

Don’t be afraid to be totally wrong on occasion.

While you can defer to others, it’s quite a bit more entertaining to understand why what is happening, is happening.

***

My loose comp for Kris Bryant this year is Missouri State’s Jake Burger.

Which will get some to think I’m equating them. Which I’m not. However, they have quite a bit in common.

Until well after the draft, Bryant was considered a defensive butcher that wouldn’t hit for average. Until, he wasn’t that bad for average. Or with the glove.

Here was my entire logic for wanting Bryant (over anyone else left) in the 2013 draft. I bought the power. I bought his zone command. The questions were, would he hit? Could he field?

I watched one game of his with actual camera operators. He made a charging play on a swinging bunt. (Think Michael Martinez with a bit more difficulty.) He made a play back to the barrier in foul ground. With those two plays, I bought that he would be an “adequate” fielder.

If Bryant could mash homers, draw walks, and play adequate defense, that sounds, what? Three wins a year?

He had a reputation as a hard worker. Anything else was gravy.

Sold.

As far as Burger, he has power, though not in the Bryant stratosphere. His power and work ethic aren’t questioned. He has 19 home runs in 186 at-bats this season. He has 35 walks and 27 strikeouts. He has zone command.

It boils to his defense and his average. He’s hitting .339, which is (barely) his worst of his college career. The Missouri Valley Conference isn’t the SEC, but it’s better than you might think.

Data points tell me he ought to be able to hit pro pitching. As to whether he can hit a Cliff Lee-style slider is in question for anyone. Until they prove they can.

I think Burger would be good enough to take at 27.

Same logic, basically.

Which is what grasping the draft is about.

Having an idea. Testing it out in real life situations. Stick with it. Or adjust as necessary. And, suddenly, you have a new skill you’ve crafted out of skills you already had. But used in different fashions.

***

Another Kris Bryant-reason to follow the draft is a bit more stark. More brazen. More conspiratorial.

What if the Cubs and Bryant don’t come to an extension agreement?

At some point, the Cubs might have to come to a tough decision. Let Bryant play, with free agency looming. Or trade him for the best package available for acquiring him in 2021. Either decision would be difficult. However, losing Bryant for a (likely late) second- or fourth-round pick would be less-than-desired.

With a mildly increased interest in the draft, and mildly more awareness of pipelines across the league, you could be more able to fathom the unthinkable. What if Bryant goes early?

At the cost of getting into pissing contests about useless stuff on-line, perhaps.

With awareness of other systems, you could have a mildly better idea of what could be incoming. Of the value of the pick that might be added.

***

This week’s meat of the column is... a bit different.

The premise for this season of Draft Prep was to get readers much more involved. The writing of this post could have instead accomplished two or three entire draft looks on my site.

My tagline remains “Think for yourself. Ask questions. Be nice to others.”

When I write an article here, people are allowing me to do the thinking for them. “Is it Tuesday?”

I want people to grasp that draft knowledge isn’t unattainable. It only takes a bit of gumption.

For a while, people were participating. That was nice. They were learning. On their own. I was learning from them. That was the point.

However, now, we’re back to me giving a sermonette, 20 responses, and many of those from me. That was exactly what I wanted to avoid. And tells me that I have failed in my writing.

If numerous others aren’t “playing from home” and doing their own homework, I haven’t gotten across the point that “You can doooooo this.”

***

Now, I go with a hook, when you expect a cross.

I want to answer your draft questions. However, there is a catch.

It’s incredibly easy to hide behind a moniker (I’m not talking about all of you), ask a question, and remain hidden in the weeds. That isn’t the game I want to play.

Ask me a question that isn’t of the “Who will the Cubs draft at 27?” variety.

(Answer. Who goes 1-through-26?)

Or “Who will be the ace in this draft?”

(Answer: A guy nobody expected, or a guy not on the board at 27.)

Make it a question that adds to the breadth and depth of knowledge on the board.

For instance,

“Which would you prefer at 30 and why? Griffin Canning, Alex Lange, or Clarke Schmidt?”

(I like Clarke Schmidt. His Tommy John surgery makes a top arm available later than it should have been. He was pitching well in the Southeastern Conference with the bad wing. His backstory reads like the type the Cubs desire in the first place.)

First, you’ve done homework to identify three similar types of selections. Secondly, you’ve asked why.

***

Except, for this service, there is a fee.

Baseball America has a Draft 200. MLB.com has a Draft 100. Others might have similars.

As the Cubs select 27, 30, 67, 105, 135, etc..., pick a player near one of these points, on one of the draft lists.

Tell everyone reading here why you think the Cubs should or should not draft him in that range. Either works.

Tell us which school he attends. His position. What your verdict is. And why.

It might come out a bit scratchy. But, that’s cool. The goal to grasping the draft is to start trying to. For each blurb you write on a player, which may or may not contain a link to an article, you get a question answered.

And Bleed Cubbie Blue gets a more-readable article.

***

With everyone fussing about pitching recently, more people seem interested in the draft. Somewhat hollow reasoning, but so it goes.

I’m still enjoying looking at mock drafts.

And agonizing over how to prioritize the next six picks, regardless how the first two dozen go.

My preference remains a hitter and a pitcher, a prep and one from college. Likely the best available at 27, and a different type entirely at 30.

I wouldn’t object too strenuously to getting a college arm and bat (in any order) at 27 and 30. Then bouncing back to get preps in Rounds two and four. Prep talent is out there, but the pipeline could, as usual, benefit from more bats with MLB upside.

I suppose I could spend more time carping about the hitters that are slumping, or complaining about the team’s relievers.

However, that provides precious little value to anyone. Myself included. I don’t believe in the “kick a cat” mentality. I’d rather learn something. Understand how the MLB Draft works a bit better. Read an article on a player that the Cubs might find intriguing early on the third day. Re-assess my rankings a bit. Listen to Scott Kornberg explain the clouds in North Carolina from a Pelicans game.

And be more of an asset to fans of the Cubs pipeline.

“It’s Friday. It’s May 2017. The baseball draft is next month. And I’m looking forward to who the Cubs will draft to upgrade their pipeline. Yeah, the parent club is a bit unsettling. However, the future still looks bright.”

Poll

What will provide the Cubs the best value at pick 27?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    A college bat
    (48 votes)
  • 60%
    A college arm
    (107 votes)
  • 5%
    A prep bat
    (9 votes)
  • 7%
    A prep arm
    (13 votes)
177 votes total Vote Now