Draft Prep this cycle will be mildly different this cycle than it has been before, because the efforts before didn't produce the desired results. What my goal is, remains largely the same. I want some of you (even a very scant minority) to take ownership of a college team, reporting back every week on their progress, or lack thereof. Today looks at the New Mexico State as the baseball program, and changes the language I'm using in Draft Prep.
Before I get around to my look at a very offense-heavy squad, I get a bit introspective. Since the 2016 World Series title, I'm a bit of a different fan. I can watch games from 2003, and don't recoil when thinking about 1969. I'm better about giving credit to players from other teams. And I'm rediscovering the joy of "my style" of Fantasy Baseball. I've played a decent chunk of Strat-O-Matic baseball since the Cubs were eliminated. Not only that, but it ties in with NM State Aggies baseball.
In Strat-O-Matic, each player is assigned a defensive rating based on their seasonal production. A 1 means elite. A 2 is above average. Players rated 3 are break-even with the glove. A 4 indicates below average. When a player has a 5, he's considered a black hole. If it's a key point in the game, you don't want a 4 or 5 defender trying to manage a difficult chance, like in the real game.
Nick Gonzales is the primary draw for Aggies Baseball. He was a breakout second baseman in 2019. The breakout was with his bat. His glove remains a work in progress for Head Coach Mike Kirby and the Crimson and White playing at Presley Askew Field in Las Cruces. New Mexico State isn't my team, but my hunch is Gonzales is more of a four defender than a three in the eyes of scouts. But, oh, that bat.
You can talk about altitude all you want, but an OPS in college of 1.042 is rather impressive. That's what the team hit last season. Gonzales crushed at 1.305. Two Aggies were drafted last June, and two more played pro ball in 2019 despite not being drafted. Scouts know where Las Cruces is.
New Mexico State would be a fun follow for two reasons. You can be among the first Cubs fans in on Gonzales, who figures to hit his way to Double-A Ball in rapid order, regardless who drafts him. (When I talk about a college hitter with a pro bat, I'm expecting advancement to Advanced-A, or better. Other hitters might need to adjust sooner.)
With a bit of attention, you can have a much better idea than most on if the glove is good enough to be break-even, eventually. If it is, he makes sense, despite his similarity to Cubs 2019 second-rounder Chase Strumpf. As pegging a college team is more about expanding your knowledge than chest-puffing, any pitcher that stifles this offense deserves a look, as well.
Outfielder Tristan Peterson hit almost as well as Gonzales, and returns in 2020. With a hitterish team, a breakout from someone new is entirely possible, as well. Gonzales could go to the Cubs with the 16th pick, though I'd lean against. If you want a college team that might "hang twenty", the Aggies are a logical choice. With some Cubs first-round intrigue, all the better.
Enjoy baseball as you want. For much of 2019, many people didn't seem to enjoy following the Cubs. College ball tends more toward "fun" and less toward "unwritten rules". You can.have a college team you like, and still remain apprised of the Cubs. Hopefully, ten or fifteen of you have a college team, and keep us updated as news warrants. As of now, I’m happily accepting “30 minute a week” commitments to learn more about a particular team, from Head Coach to venue to announcers and ticket prices. The internet can teach you virtually anything, if you’re willing to learn.
Play ball time in mid-February.