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2019 MLB draft prep: Avoiding redrafts, and more on Cubs draft prospects

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And some other thoughts about who might be a good pick for the Cubs with the 27th overall choice.

Adley Rutschman, a possible Cubs No. 1 pick this year
Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

I was prepared to hit send on a draft article noting the importance of second-round draft selections, in regards to a potential Cubs signing of Craig Kimbrel. The Cubs added three second-round selections last June in Brennen Davis, Paul Richan, Cole Roederer, Any could end up being “10 or more wins above” career producers, or any could get stranded along the way. Owners and executives have taken to developing their own, and don’t like losing the option. Just before hitting send, I changed my emphasis for the week. I’m not a fan of re-drafts.

Bloggers tend to love re-drafts. If teams knew now, what they didn’t know then, here’s who they should have drafted. It gets to be very based on publicly available numbers. Many sports fans love numbers. What could possibly be annoying about a redraft? Shouldn’t people be interested in what a team should have done umpteen years ago? After all, Stephen Curry should have been drafted before Jonny Flynn.

What led to my shift was a comment from a college baseball fan, who noted a PAC-12 broadcast was repeatedly calling Adley Rutschman the best catching prospect in 50 years. I wasn’t watching, so I have no context of the comments, but Buster Posey came up in my discussion of the comments. After all, Posey is clearly the best catching prospect in the last 15 years, right? His career has been fantastic. He went early in the first round, and was a top prospect much of the way.

All of those are accurate. However, on draft day, he went fifth. On draft day, Tim Beckham was considered a better investment. So were Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer, and Brian Matusz. That is on the record. After the selection process, Posey flourished in a professional environment. That, also, is tough to debate. Decision makers in June 2008 chose three players who have had worse careers than Cubs choice Andrew Cashner over Posey.

Using the term “prospect” is occasionally dangerous. Assessing a prospect is a “the user decides the definition” term. Executives on draft day considered Alvarez and Matusz better than Posey, in an era where teams weren’t realistically limited by the Commissioner in their spending. The decisions that matter are the ones decided on draft day. Posey was less valued by four teams than other players. Rutschman looks 1.1. Depending on the definition, Rutschman is a better prospect than Posey, regardless the future.

The Cubs will make selections in June, as with the last fifty-odd Junes. The most important information is the information known before the draft. Information unearthed after (for instance, how Nico Hoerner would adjust to pro ball) is immaterial. If you dig arguing about which reliever should be the Cubs’ eighth reliever in two weeks, have at it. I’d prefer to wrangle about which player(s) should and/or could be in the Cubs pipeline for the next ten years. Some of them might get to play with Cubs that sign extensions next season because the Cubs have ample room under the spending limits in 2020.

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The 2019 draft class is in the process of expanding by one, apparently. I’d be kidding if I’d feign familiarity with Vanderbilt-commit Trejyn Fletcher, but I’m guessing the Cubs are good enough at advanced recon to be aware of him. If he’s “all that”, I doubt he slips to 27. It would be far more likely that someone else gambles early on Fletcher (“Go Deering!”) and sends one of the other top two dozen from last week’s Class of 2019 down to eligibility at 1.24.

I listened to the first seven innings of a pitching duel between the Auburn Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers. Both pitchers were allowing the occasional base-runner, but squelching rallies before runs scored. Auburn plated two in the eighth. Southeastern Conference Baseball is a treat in mid-March.

***

Duke’s Graeme Stinson was an Andrew Miller-type last year, pitching leverage moments in relief. 2019 hasn’t been kind to him. His numbers, both statistical and radar-based, are quite a bit off so far.

Unless he rebounds rather soon, he’s unlikely in the first-round. At which time, the point becomes, in which round would it make sense to think he’s fixable? The debate is between what’s seen, and what isn’t. A draft round is a likelihood of success, in reality. I doubt he lasts until Round 11. My hunch is someone probably disregards his season in about Round 5. Would you prefer a player in that round who has done well recently, or was supposed to do well?

***

I accidentally ran into a Tulane game on Saturday. Five minutes later, I had a “player of interest.” Green Wave third baseman Kody Hoese bounced a pitch off his face on the video board on a lengthy home run. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. So what.” It was his ninth of the season. Last season, he was a sophomore-eligible, selected by the Twins in the 35th Round. The next half-inning, he made a nice stop at third defensively, and added a hustle-double his succeeding at-bat.

At some point, the draft becomes about wanting “this” or “that.” Is the lefty that was considered an early selection, but has struggled, of more apparent value than a two-way third-baseman? Of course you can wait three or four years to agree or criticize. Or assume that the Cubs selected properly. Where’s the fun in that? A Griffith, Indiana native, he might have a degree of Chicago bias, to boot.

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My Top 27 for 1.27

Since “who will the Cubs select first” is a valid consideration, here are 27 names I’d be entirely good with the Cubs selecting first, in more or less preference order. Any “Why this guy over that guy?” ones are valid questions. I don’t know which pitchers will be healthy for the next three years. Nor do I know who will have two “I can’t believe he improved that much” seasons in the next three, which is how people make “redrafts” seem like a good idea.

Adley Rutschman, catcher, Oregon State
CJ Abrams, shortstop, HS-Georgia
Andrew Vaughn, first base, California
Bobby Witt, Junior, shortstop, HS-Oklahoma
Bryson Stott, shortstop, UNLV
Riley Greene, outfield, HS- Florida
Shea Langeliers, catcher, Baylor
Michael Busch, first base/left field, North Carolina
JJ Bleday, right field, Vanderbilt
Corbin Carroll, right field, HS- Washington
Daniel Espino, right-handed pitcher, HS- Georgia
Kameron Misner, outfield, Missouri
Josh Jung, third base, Texas Tech
Nick Lodolo, left-handed pitcher, TCU
Hunter Bishop, center fielder, Arizona State
Will Willson, infield, North Carolina State
Matthew Allan, right-handed pitcher, HS- Florida
George Kirby, right-handed pitcher, Elon
Jackson Rutledge, right-handed pitcher, San Jacinto Junior College
Alek Manoah, right-handed pitcher, West Virginia
Garrett Hampton, outfielder, HS- Tennessee
Trejyn Fletcher, outfield, HS- Maine
Braden Shewmake, infield, Texas A&M
Seth Johnson, right-handed pitcher, Campbell
Matt Wallner, outfield, Southern Mississippi
Brett Baty, third base, HS-Texas
Zack Thompson, left-handed pitcher, Kentucky

Any of those 27 should tuck quite nicely into the Cubs Top Three Prospects come June.

Poll

What sort of asset would you like the Cubs to add to their "top three prospects" in June?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    A Nico mimic
    (4 votes)
  • 10%
    A mashing right-fielder
    (10 votes)
  • 28%
    A pitcher that may, or may not, be healthy in three years.
    (27 votes)
  • 56%
    The best bat
    (54 votes)
95 votes total Vote Now