I was going to highlight a few more players for the Cubs’ first pick, the 27th overall choice, but decided to dig a bit deeper instead. By looking at a few valid options in the later rounds, you can get a feel for who else might be a getting added to the pipeline on Monday or Tuesday. The bats are a bit more intriguing, but here are some possibilities beyond pick 27.
The Fangraphs and MLB Pipeline lists are invaluable aids, here. They aren't mimics of each other, so each source will place talent in different places. They do tend to provide a range, of however much long-term payoff. Unless Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel sign over the weekend, the Cubs will select in the 64th, 103rd, 132nd, and 162nd spots, as well as every 30th pick thereafter. My first look begins with players in the 62-76 range.
TJ Sikkema jumps off the screen at 66 and 57. A lefty that's been better than the Southeastern Conference, his WHIP on the season has been 0.96 against superior competition. He's fanned 101 in 88.2 innings, and is from Clinton, Iowa, so he knows Midwestern weather. He's been solid or better all three years at Missouri, and the southpaw seems a reasonable gamble.
Ryan Pepiot (Butler) sits at 59 and 72. The 6-3 right-hander is in the 91-95 range, with a change-up as his second best. Ethan Small is another SEC lefty, more crafty than Sikkema. Reliever Matt Cronin (Arkansas) is on option here, as would be Fresno State's Ryan Jensen, who brings added velocity, but has outings without his proper form.
Offensively, Nick Quintana (Arizona) makes sense if Kody Hoese isn't the pull at 27. A prototype corner masher, Quintana makes plays, but lacks speed. Stanford's right fielder Kyle Stowers gets a bit of offensive side-eye, but has been almost as good offensively as Nico Hoerner was last season. Kyle McCann from Georgia Tech is a long-ball threat with debate on if he's a valid catcher.
Georgia's Tony Locey seems a third round pitching option, along with Arizona State's Alec Marsh. Locey is able to hit 95 most starts, and Marsh is a fastball/slider type with his other two offerings in the development stages.
East Carolina's Bryant Packard is a third round option as as bat-first outfielder that is a defensive work in progress. Houston's Matt Triolo makes sense if third base hasn't been tried yet. Indiana's Matt Gorski is a center field lead-off man type (power, speed, and defense) with the main concern being steady contact. At some point, Louisville's Logan Wyatt will get selected. The first base-only player has a keen eye for the zone, but has no defensive versatility.
To the fourth round, East Carolina's Spencer Brickhouse has Hey-Hey inducing power at first base. A handful of two-way catchers look to come off the board in this range, with Jaxx Groshans (Kansas) and Nick Kahle (Washington) being primaries. Tennessee's Andrew Schultz (101 with a put away slider) figures to get called here, as well. The talent will last all three days, with the talent difference between the rounds shrinking each round.
Many of these players will be on display this weekend, as the college tournament begins Friday morning. Teams will be competing in 16 different double-elimination brackets to advance into the Super Regionals. As the Cubs play on the road on Friday, the mass of baseball on Friday afternoon will be college tournament games. I encourage you to flip a game on at work, and the Tune-In app is your friend.
Illinois faced Clemson (and possible Cubs first-rounder Logan Davidson) this afternoon in a game that began at 3 p.m. CT. Find a game with some compelling interest to you, and enjoy. Tell me which guys intrigue you. Mock drafts are getting to be the rage this weekend. Fangraphs has a two-rounder giving the Cubs prep arm JJ Goss and Sikkema, from above. With the Cubs not tipping their hand much, Hoese is the most often referenced as a Cubs favorite. We'll find out Monday night. And enjoy a college game this weekend.