The MLB draft has come a long way over the past decade. Just look at how this site covered the 2006 draft when the Cubs took Tyler Colvin in the first round. It was kind of an afterthought in what was a terrible season anyway. (To be fair, the real first round pick that year was Jeff Samardzija, even if he was actually taken in the fifth round.)
Today, you can read my profile of possible Cubs picks from over the weekend and Al’s preview of where and when to watch. In addition to what Al wrote, I’d like to add that the Cubs have a draft bonus pool of $7,454,900 to sign their picks in the first ten rounds, along with any bonus given to players drafted after the tenth round that goes over $125,000. (That is, a team can give a $125,000 bonus to any player taken in the final 30 rounds without that counting against the bonus pool. Any money above that counts against the bonus pool.) Teams can pay a penalty and go 5% over their bonus pool. If they go more than 5% over, they forfeit next year’s first round draft pick. No team will do that.
This year’s draft is considered to be somewhat below average, but there is good talent available every year. Even in the infamously bad 2000 draft, Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Adam Wainwright were taken in the first round. This draft is at least considered quite a bit better than that one.
Because the Cubs don’t pick until 27th, which is going to be well into the broadcast, here are a few other storylines to keep you interested until the Cubs pick.
Who will the Twins pick? Rarely has there been as much uncertainty at the top of the draft as this year. There are reportedly five players that the Twins are considering and no one, not even manager Paul Molitor, has any idea who they are going to take. However, this is the scuttlebutt from this morning.
There's a strong sense the Twins are down to two choices with the No. 1 pick tonight: Louisville LHP/1B Brendan McKay and HS SS Royce Lewis.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 12, 2017
McKay is a high-floor pick—a left-handed pitcher who could quickly become an number three starter OR a competent starting first baseman. Lewis is a much higher-risk, higher-ceiling shortstop who would sign for less, thus freeing up more bonus pool money for the Twins to draft players in later rounds who fell out of signability concerns. That’s the strategy that the Astros used with the first pick in 2012, and as it turned out, Carlos Correa was the best player in the draft anyway.
Where do the two-way players go?
McKay is a guy whom there is some argument over whether he’s best suited to be a pitcher or a first baseman. Another player in the same boat is high school pitcher/shortstop Hunter Greene, expected to go second to the Reds and who definitely won’t get past the Padres with the third pick. Greene would probably be a top ten pick as a shortstop as he shows a smooth glove and great power. But it’s his 100 mph fastball that has most scouts salivating.
College versus high school pitching.
Pitchers are risky. High school pitchers are especially risky, which is why the Twins are expected to pass on Greene and his 100 mph fastball for McKay or Lewis. But we’ll see if other teams shy away from high school pitchers and go with the more stable college arms. Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright, Florida’s Alex Faedo and North Carolina’s J.B. Bukauskas are expected to go in the first round. High school pitchers MacKenzie Gore, Shane Baz, D.L. Hall and Trevor Rogers are also expected to be taken before the Cubs pick.
Finally, here’s one more name I heard connected with the Cubs this morning on a late mock draft by Baseball America:
Clarke Schmidt. RHP. South Carolina. Schmidt has a fastball in the 91-94 range with a heavy sink. He even hit 96 earlier this season. Schmidt also has three quality pitches. He looked like a top-ten pick earlier this season but his season ended early in April when he underwent Tommy John surgery. If the Cubs were to take Schmidt with the 27th pick, it would be gambling on a player with high upside who would be willing to sign under slot. That would allow the Cubs to give a bigger bonus to the player picked at 30th, allowing them to take someone who dropped because of bonus demands.
Use this as an open thread to discuss the draft.