Here and elsewhere, the Cubs have caught flak for getting “too few ranked prospects” at the top of the draft. How valid are the criticisms? How well did they do? Here’s a look back at Day Two, and a look forward to Day Three.
To understand how well the Cubs did in the draft, you almost need to know something about college baseball and perspective. To toss aside either of those removes a decent chunk of credibility on the situation. For instance, my opinions on how the Bears did in their most recent draft are junk, as I don’t really pay much attention to college football.
Starting with center fielder Jimmy Herron, you see one problem the Cubs have with prospect rankings. Ranking bureaus tend to quite prefer “masher types.” The bureaus like the corner outfielders that marinate in power. The Cubs will almost always take the center fielder or right fielder over the masher-dude.
Herron’s Duke squad was left for dead halfway through their Regional over the weekend. Trailing during a thunder delay, they were outs from elimination, which never came. The offense, keyed by lead-off man Herron, pushed Duke to four straight wins. Herron seems to be on fire right now, heading to the Super-Regionals this weekend.
Herron will eventually need Tommy John surgery. Yeah, it sucks. Such is life. The Cubs have a rather good record in the third round, as compared to most third rounders. If healthy in a year, Herron should be representing, somewhere, in full-season ball.
Fourth-round selection Ethan Roberts has been the closer for Tennessee Tech this season. They have been far better than advertised, and reached the Round of 64. Roberts was booted to the rotation for an elimination game, and earned his second win of the weekend. They survived the weekend.
Roberts was chosen with the 128th overall selection. Two players signed from the 128 slot have ever had a WAR over 1.0: Cecil Cooper (1968) and Doug Mientkiewicz (1995). If you were expecting a mad sprint to the majors from anyone in that spot, your expectations might be a bit off.
Roberts makes sense in Eugene, and perhaps South Bend, for about 20 innings. Perhaps he’ll start long-term. Maybe he’ll relieve. That will be determined in November (Instructs) and March (Spring Training). While the Cubs had choices at bigger names than Roberts, the Cubs have a different draft list than other teams. Roberts should extend the pitching depth in 2019 and beyond in the system.
Fifth rounder Andy Weber seems a bit of Stephen Bruno. A bit of an offense-first second baseman from Virginia, He makes sense early at Eugene or South Bend. As “Saga” phrased it in the 1980’s, “Wind Him Up” and see how he responds.
If you don’t give a toss about how the pipeline is developing, it’s both easy to understand why this class isn’t compelling, and amusing that you care. The draft is about locating talent that will make the system more formidable, from Mesa to Chicago. While any of the players on the second day might miss (by any standards), expecting a second-day choice to shoot up like the temperatures in Chicago in August is a bit unrealistic.
“Getting a solid-looking upside starting option like Dylan Cease” was predicated by saving money on the Kyle Schwarber selection. 23 of 30 owners or more really don’t want teams getting multiple chances per year at high-end talent. Especially, a team that has been to three straight League Championship Series.
In Round Six, the Cubs added among the best prep prospects in Oklahoma in Kohl Franklin. Look for Franklin to start four or five games for a team in the Arizona Summer League. Signing him shouldn’t be a problem, as his father is his agent.
If all goes well, Franklin will start games in the Northwest League for Eugene in 2019. That’s how the Cubs treat prep arms, and Franklin shouldn’t be any different than the others.
In Round Seven, the Cubs drafted pure CF/lead-off man DJ Artis. He’s better than some of the outfielders the Cubs already have in the lower minors. Depending on your view, Artis might have had a bad season this year at Liberty University. However, he had a very lengthy on-base streak that ran much of the season.
He hits from an extreme crouch, and has had some “corkscrew” in it, as well. He’ll lead off in Eugene, I’m guessing. How well he does will determine how quickly he advances. Or, if he does. Will Venable, Tyler Saladino, and Chad Tracy are recent 218 selections, which is where Artis was selected. If it’s “MLB or Bust,” expect Bust with Artis.
He should be fun to follow, nonetheless.
Round Eight fetched Zach Mort, the Friday guy at George Mason. He’s a low walk guy that strikes hitters out. The Cubs are justifiably fascinated by those types, while other teams tend to worship at the altar of velocity. I don’t have any specifics on Mort, but I might be able to round up a game of his the next couple days.
Eighth-rounders are generally low-expectations. Which is to be expected with a cap limit under $160,000. If Mort gets to the Myrtle Beach rotation, he did his job.
Round Nine brought Derek Casey to the Cubs from Virginia. A bit similar to Mort, the major difference is his conference. He’ll add to the pitching depth in the system.
Luke Reynolds was a heist in the 10th round. At Mississippi State as a sophomore, he was on the team the next year, but didn’t play. He transferred to Southern Mississippi, but needed to sit out another year. After two years of not playing, Reynolds posted a 1.289 OPS on the season, walking 63 times, fanning only 52 times.
Reynolds figures to get a very limited signing bonus. Money against the signing bonus is an aspect that never mattered years ago. It does now. Reynolds makes sense at third in Eugene to start. He should crush that league.
As to Wednesday, what should we expect? Will the Cubs lean toward “risky preps” early? After all, teams don’t get punished for not signing third day choices. “Wouldn’t it make sense to try for a risky player early?”
It entirely depends. Would he sign for what the Cubs are likely to be able to offer him?
Since the 2012 draft, the spending for bonuses is tightly limited. The Cubs only went with one “senior sign.” The rest of the selections figure to get “near the standard.” As cool as it looks to draft a player that is high-upside, if he is almost certainly unsignable, the organization gets limited benefit,
College juniors signed early on the third day are in the 8-15 percent range as far as a major league career. Those are my numbers, and not historically proven. However, with players like Matt Swarmer, David Bote, Chesny Young, Zack Short, Trent Giambrone, Tyler Peyton, PJ Higgins, and others buzzing through the system, I’m not budging.
The draft board for talent available at the Cubs next pick provides some quality options through the pipeline. If you don’t care about college ball, and don’t like the minor league pipeline set-up, few of the names will get your attention tomorrow. Those that might get drafted that are “that interesting” won’t sign, anyway.
However, the players in line to be added early are often going to be good professional players, whether or not they reach the big leagues. Should the Cubs take a player in the 8-15 range first? Or a flashy player unlikely to sign.
It boils to your perspective.
I’ll take 8-12 guys up front that are “the best signable junior” who represents an 8-15 percent chance. And, if the Cubs have located a prep or two who will likely be willing to sign for the money available under the current system, why not?
In reality, it looks like the Cubs “drafted what they draft.” Pitchers with repertoires who throw strikes. Outfielders who play defense well. Players who know the strike zone. It doesn’t fascinate the touting services, but it tends to keep defensive innings in the pipeline short. Which is rather important to the Cubs brass.
Do you have any specific hopes or requests? Remembering that spending is tightly limited. Use this thread as an open thread to discuss that as well as today’s Cubs selections.