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2019 MLB Draft Prep: Mock draft assessments as we enter the new year

Next June’s draft possibilities are starting to take shape.

Grae Kessinger, grandson of Don, a possible 2019 draft selection
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mock baseball drafts in January might seem especially unnecessary. However, if a person is trying to learn a foreign language, reading a book, magazine, or newspaper in that language can be useful. To be rather blunt, getting knowledge about a draft in any sport is a bit of a foreign language, unless you’re fluent in that sport’s upcoming draft already. Today, I look at a few mocks to see if I can see if they shed any useful light on picks 27 and after.

The June draft is a bit of an entity all to itself. There are few trades. Many baseball fans prefer college basketball and football to college baseball. Games are televised and advertised less often in baseball than the other major draft sports. However, if executives are prioritizing draft picks in baseball, fans ought to be permitted to do the same. By looking at peoples’ opinions, we can gauge value and perceived interest. On the flipside, it’s entirely valid to question if a specific player being “selected” makes sense for the Cubs.

The first drafts I look at today have a popular flaw. People running mocks seem unaware that the draft board isn’t the same as the reverse of the standings. (Teams get compensation choices for picks who choose not to sign.) Some early mocks are quickly flawed by showing the Cubs drafting 25th. They’ll draft 27th. Nonetheless, names and information are names and information. When you see names with schools, you might see a player capsule that catches your attention.

This first mock goes three rounds deep. As they have the Cubs at 25, some of the predictions will be off. However, the capsules might be useful, anyway. This one fascinates me because I wasn’t aware that the Chicago area had a prep arm worth studying. Quinn Priester is from Cary Grove High School in Cary, Illinois. A very northwestern Chicago suburb, it’s very possible the school is within access range for some of you. Cary is a little over an hour from me.

Therefore, if you live in the northwestern burbs, and haven’t taken in a high school game in awhile, checking out Priester might be worth a bit of a roadtrip. It can be fun watching a future professional chucking 93 past unsuspecting high school kids. He’s committed to TCU (Jake Arrieta’s school) if he makes it to college. Either way, a Priester game ought to be worth a 15-minute trip in any direction. Bring a camera for scouts, and some filthy looking strikeouts.

In this mock, Florida’s Wil Dalton goes to the Cubs in the second round. Dalton is a power hitting outfielder, and would be a useful add to the pipeline. He was a center fielder/right fielder for the Gators last season with a stacked defensive outfield. The glove shouldn’t be a concern, if he trims the strikeouts a bit.

A few spots after Dalton, Grae Kessinger is selected. Ex-Cubs shortstop Don Kessinger’s grandson, Kessinger the younger would be a very realistic choice for the Cubs. If this mock holds anywhere close to reality (which is questionable), Kessinger would likely need to be an early selection candidate for the Cubs to obtain his services.

The third Cubs choice in this mock is Cameron Cannon, a third baseman from the University of Arizona in Tucson. A college shortstop as a sophomore, he mashed in the Pac-12. Aside from his .976 OPS in an A- league, I completely dig his walks (37) to strikeouts (22) ratio.

The other mock I glanced at also mistakenly has the Cubs selecting 25th. The choice there is North Carolina’s Michael Busch. The position says first base. He is a bat-first whatever. I don’t know how much defensive usefulness he’ll provide anyone, but the bat should play. The easy and potentially lazy comp would be as a modified Kyle Schwarber. The 5-10 Busch played, and mashed, in 2018 on the Cape, miscast as a second baseman. His glove could be a bit problematic anywhere, but his OPS on the Cape was 1.017 with more walks (19) than strikeouts (17).

As much as the Schwarber bat rings with the Busch option, I’m more intrigued from a Cubs perspective by the next name in Will Holland. He’s done everything in college, and was better on the Cape than might have been expected. Holland’s power is developing, and the Cubs would historically much rather select a shortstop early than a (whatever you consider Busch defensively).

This draft has the Cubs taking a prep outfielder in Round Two, with Grae Kessinger on the board. If the Cubs grab a pure shortstop first, Kessinger is less appealing than if something else is selected. Yes, “best available” rules in the June draft. However, positional flexibility and diversity still play. The Cubs figure to scout Kessinger (Ole Miss) aggressively, along with 29 other teams.

Corbin Carroll, the choice at 55 (where the Cubs won’t be selecting), is an entire unknown to me. However, here are some pictures.

Todd Peterson goes in the third-round here. The right-handed pitcher from LSU struggled somewhat in the SEC as a freshman and sophomore, and won’t go anywhere near this high if he does again. He’s 6-5, and brings mid-90s on the mound. He could be a leverage reliever, but if selected here, gets to work on a three-pitch arsenal as a starter. The second would be a swing-and-miss curve. A college bat, a college arm, and a prep in the first three choices would be a nice balance. I might prefer two college bats and a college arm.

Seth Tomczak, a 6-5 prep arm from California, gets the call in the fourth round. The guy running this draft has a run on preps (22 in a row) in a round that preps are as likely to be actively avoided as sought out. By the fourth round, most of these kids would opt for school, instead.

However, a nugget exists, nonetheless. This mock sends Jason Hodges from Marist High School in the fourth to the Indians. If Cary, Illinois is too far away for you, maybe Marist (on the southwest side of Chicago) could be more convenient. Both sides have their schedules posted. Sometimes, knowing which pitcher is throwing on which day takes some homework. Hodges is an outfielder. Let me know if I can be of assistance.

If you don’t take in some minor league, college, or high school ball every season, you start to think that every infielder is as good as Javier Baez or Addison Russell was in 2016 or 2017. It isn’t necessarily so. Getting spoiled is only fine if you never have to see “normal” in games that matter. If high school football and basketball is viewable, why not baseball?

Like it or not, drafting well fits with international efficiency and player development as the trinity of long-term success in baseball. It’s not going away. Nor will my articles looking at mock drafts to help educate my readers on the draft. June is coming. Expect more draft looks soon.