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2019 MLB Draft Prep: Keoni Cavaco/Braden Shewmake

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One high schooler and one college infielder are the focus of this look at possible Cubs draft picks.

Braden Shewmake at second base for Texas A&M in the 2017 College World Series
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

If I know my so-called blind-spots, I’m better able to account for them. I think many of us have preferences borne of a lifetime of experiences. In my minding the Cubs draft class, my lean is toward college players, and hitters. It isn’t that a prep arm can’t be useful. It’s that plenty of things can go wrong for players without a college history. Mine today is about a pair of bats I’d be good with, and why.

Many “name” preps have very solid college commitments, and understandably so. If Bobby Witt Jr. gets a shakedown from whoever selects him (he won’t), Witt would be welcomed at Oklahoma. Highly graded outfielder Corbin Carroll could pivot to UCLA, and if MLB veteran Al Leiter’s son Jack isn’t given a reasonable signing bonus. Vanderbilt beckons. With the high-end commitment comes the near-guarantee that the slotted amount will be overshot, shorting the rest of the money for the remainder of the draft class.

Since it’s of uncertain value to assess a prep against players nowhere near good enough to play Junior College ball. High school games can get one-sided with a future pro involved. It’s easier assessing quality college talent. Pairing that with the added cost against the limit, I have difficulty wanting a prep. However, if the equation is adjusted, my concern wavers.

Keoni Cavaco is a prep third baseman at Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, California. His commitment is with San Diego State. I have no objections to San Diego State, but it’s far less of a baseball factory than most of the commitment homes of many of the top fifty options. Cavaco has been making a steady climb, and is placing at 25 as I submit this. It was lower when I started. Listed at 6-foot even and 185, Cavaco has “helium.”

The Cubs haven’t drafted many third basemen early in the draft since Theo Epstein took over, save one very famous one in Kris Bryant. In the parallel universe where the Cubs have a better development pipeline in place at the time, one wonders how Josh Vitters would have developed. My preference for a first-round choice out of college remains, but if Cavaco’s name is called, I wouldn’t be too upset.

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MLB.com’s draft page has updated their site to 100 names recently, and has run a mock in each of the last two weeks for the first round. In both instances, they’ve assigned Braden Shewmake to the Cubs at the 27th choice. Shewmake is one of the garden variety college middle infielders in a draft a bit deep with them..

A Texas A&M Junior, Shewmake’s walk-to-strikeout rate this season is 17:22. In other words, he’s a bat-to-ball type. He hasn’t unlocked that much power, with only 21 college homers so far. Over half of those were as a freshman. He hasn’t had that many doubles, either, In my view, he’s a bit of a generic Cubs first-round idea, with the most bizarre angle that he’s a left-handed hitter.

The best part that I can see if the Cubs select Shewmake or Cavaco is the Cubs’ commitment to drafting over-achievers. Whoever the Cubs select, if the past serves as a guide, will be more than willing to put in the work necessary to succeed. That remains why I’d much prefer an offensive-minded selection, because a hitter can take 300 more swings in the cage, or track down 200 more fly balls, without it being a detriment. Pitchers seem somehow more delicate.

I’d prefer Cavaco to Shewmake, but appreciate the advances the Cubs have made on their offensive development side. Not that every defense-first outfield selection has the light go on in their Cubs tenure; far from it. But if the team leaps for a hitter in the first round, he should belong in the system’s top five prospects, and should be an entertaining follow from the start.

My current three from “below 27” are Tulane third baseman Kody Hoese, Campbell pitcher Seth Johnson, and Ball State pitcher Drey Jameson. Hopefully, you have questions. If you do, hopefully, I have an answer.