Something you will hear, on occasion, is that players will learn “at their own pace.” Or, in some cases, they won’t. The basics become natural, with occasional back-sliding. Some players need more constant coaching/chiding than others. In this run-up to Day Two of the draft, I have a confession to make. It isn’t just the players. Sometimes, writers fall back into their old habits. This is a look at who the Cubs selected, somewhat. However, it’s more about why I started laughing at myself as Round Two concluded last night.
I noted that I was laughing at myself, both on Twitter and in the live thread. I couldn’t explain it, then. I was on overload, and needed a few hours to reset my system. Eventually, as I did, it became easier to explain why I was laughing at myself. It was either “It isn’t about you” or “Stop chasing bad pitches.”
I have a contrarian view regarding college baseball prospects. I don’t focus on tools. For instance, Illinois’ Bren Spillane figures to come off the board soon. For some, it’s about putting a 55 or 60 (20/80 scale) on his power. Mine was more to listen to games he was playing, in attempts of giving a “real feel” to his game. And hearing as many games as possible, from a wide swath of conferences.
However, my bad habit re-emerged. I “wanted” the Cubs to select Missouri State’s Jeremy Eierman, Grand Canyon’s Jake Wong, or New Mexico State’s Kyle Bradish, because I was familiar with them. “Don’t swing at those pitches. That’s not your job. You’re not helping the team that way.”
My job is to be familiar with players. I hadn’t followed Stanford much this year, but I was amused to hear a scout paid in the $130 range for two tickets to watch the Oregon State versus Stanford game in Corvallis. The venue had been sold out, and the scouting area was already full. Secondary markets for the win.
Stanford Cardinal shortstop Nico Hoerner was the Cubs’ top pick, because the Cubs have a different draft board than other teams do. The Cubs prioritize, or demand, other things than other sides do. It isn’t “grab the top name on MLB.com’s list of availables. It wasn’t, and it won’t be.
Which is why the Cubs prioritized Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant when few others did. They lead the franchise in career post-season homers.
As the Cubs look to Day Two of the draft, which begins at noon CT on Tuesday. You can follow along online at mlb.com and there will be an open thread posted here at 11:45 a.m. CT. The names will be announced far more quickly on Tuesday, and with less general familiarity. Which is fine, as it means I’ll have more players to familiarize myself with.
What I need to remind myself of on occasion is, my opinion doesn’t matter all that much. My job is to identify what the Cubs are selecting. That’s far more important than who they’re selecting.
The Cubs are about selecting players that will take full advantage of the opportunity to be a professional baseball player. They’ll work hard, be supportive, and treat people properly. If the Cubs didn’t select Eierman, as I would have, there was a reason. Instead, they selected Brennen Davis, a prep outfielder from the Mesa, Arizona area. Which sounds too convenient to be a coincidence.
Cole Roederer and Paul Richan are the players the Cubs chose with the compensation picks they got for losing Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis. The former is an outfielder from a high school in California, and the latter was a starting pitcher for the University of San Diego. To a hefty extent, both fill in some of the picture for what the Cubs look for in a draft choice.
Instead of taking known quantities, the Cubs grabbed an outfielder that missed some time due to injuries, and a pitcher that gave up over a hit per inning. “Why them?”
Roederer represents a center fielder type. He has blazing speed. If you assume he’s going to work hard (from the Cubs Central Casting list of prerequisites), if he learns to hit from the pro coaches, he should be a useful addition. The Cubs look for different things than other teams do, and likely will continue.
Instead of the more noted Wong or Bradish, the Cubs took someone who tosses in the 94 range already, and walks hitters rarely. Again, Central Casting. Kyle Hendricks 3.0. The Cubs love pitchers like that.
Looking from a “big-picture” view, the Cubs figure to spend about $8 million on draft spending bonuses. With that in mind, getting 12 career WAR from the entire draft class would be quite tolerable. Hoerner might execute half of that on his own.
While more than 12 would be (obviously) better, the premise of “not missing” runs a bit high for the Cubs brass. They seem to be able to do that by getting overachievers in the draft, and if the four they selected on Monday respond as positively to coaching as those before, the Cubs pipeline has added some talent.
As have other systems.
Tuesday and Wednesday figure to fire more question marks. Question marks that discourage me from burning much energy on who might be “most likely” at selection 98, the Cubs first on Tuesday. I might be familiar with him, or some of the other Tuesday picks. It’s not important that I know all the Cubs choices before the draft. Whats important is being a quick study once they begin play as professionals.
My college baseball efforts are about familiarizing myself with the field at-large, and, perhaps, stumbling into a few familiar names from the draft list. My task isn’t to know which choice makes the best sense from a Cubs perspective. That’s the job of the scouts and the brass.
Thankfully, they’re okay at it.