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2019 MLB Draft Prep: Should the Cubs draft a DH?

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And other thoughts on the June draft.

Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

With the discussion of extending the designated hitter, some baseball fans might be pushed into an uncomfortable spot. I’m happy to be the bearer of bad news. If the league is going to be DH across-the-board, you can be “avoidance.” However, if every other team is going to be loading up on DH talent, the Cubs might as well, also. How could they DH shop, without being foolish about it?

Drafting a DH isn’t entirely a deliberate plan. The Cubs have aggressively prioritized defensively-minded players, and the up-the-middle defense has been rather impressive recently. To bring in more DH-types, the Cubs can dial back the defensive demands a touch. One name that popped to the Cubs in a recent mock was UCLA second baseman Chase Strumpf.

An offense-first second baseman, Strumpf might be able to play second in MLB. His bat ought to play, somewhere, though. Whether you prefer or loathe the DH in National League games, strategies are about doing things to win games. The Cubs ought to get about locating DH options in the draft.

Michael Busch from North Carolina has been a similar college comp. Grabbing either Busch or Strumpf early wouldn’t have been a consideration a few years back. Now it is. I’m glad it appears National League teams are being allowed to adjust their way into a new drafting schematic. I’d still prefer an outfielder that can hit, and play defense at 1.27, though. The draft board has plenty of those, as well.

The draft goes 40 rounds. It isn’t essential to take a slugger in the first round. Teams ought to, across the league, look for mashers early more often, as they will have value for all thirty teams. Should teams draft fewer middle infielders? I’m not sure what ought to drop in priority if offense-first players are revved up, but defense-first guys might be the ones that get reduced.

***

On Saturday night, I listened to the Stanford game against Wichita State. When I get game accounts of Josh Stowers, that probably benefits my judgment. In his first Saturday trip, Stowers jumped a 2-0 pitch and ripped a one-hopper to first, moving a runner to second in the process. In his second trip, he drilled a fly to right field to plate a run. His third trip was a hard-hit fly to right field.

Stowers’ Cardinal mate Jake Daschbach, for instance, could be a DH draft option, and could get selected far later than Strumpf. He wouldn’t likely be as useful as Strumpf: prioritizing matters. The Cubs ought to get about selecting more offense-first types, even if defense suffers a bit in certain selections.

Two others from this game will be drafted. Wichita State utility guy Luke Ritter is a senior, that’s had multiple hits in three straight games. He homered, and makes perfect sense as either a ninth- or tenth-rounder. In the eighth inning, Stanford called on junior closer 6’4” Jack Little.

Flashing 94 with a slider, he makes perfect sense somewhere between the sixth and in the 15th round range. While Little’s numbers on The Cape were uneven, he fanned 18 to a single walk for the Falmouth Commodores. Little will valued by pipeline fans of whoever drafts him. Over five batters and six outs, Little fanned four and induced a double play.

***

George Kirby from Elon was a name I mentioned over the off-season as a possible choice. Kirby took a step toward making some money this weekend. His opposition (Lafayette) wasn’t the greatest, but his pitching was.

The Illini beat No. 20 Wake Forest on the road on Saturday. The primary draft-piece for the Illini is second baseman Michael Massey, but center fielder Zac Taylor figures to get his name called. On Saturday, the Demon Deacons bumped their Friday guy (Colin Peluse) to Saturday to face the Illini. Both Peluse (who will get drafted) and Illini starter Andy Fisher (who might) pitched well enough to send it to the bullpens 2-2. The Illini touched Wake for a three-run eighth, to win 5-2. On Sunday, they shut out Sacred Heart (Cub prospect Zack Short’s school) 3-0, as draft-likely Cyrillo Watson tossed the first six innings. Taylor stole five bases on the weekend.

***

Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers, who figures to be drafted in the first ten or so selections in June, will miss some time.

The injury won’t drop him, likely. Hamate bone injuries sap strength for awhile. This isn’t a surprise anymore. However, it hurts Baylor is a year when they’re a bubble team, even with Langeliers.