The MLB Draft is, and always will be, less than the NFL and NBA drafts. People tend to want to see results of acquisitions in less than four years. The three days of the baseball draft are, and will continue to be, about something entirely different than the "next training camp" mindset. Inject that into my veins, every year. Here is a look at the results from the Cubs from day two of the 2019 Draft.
On a personal/selfish level, I wanted the Cubs to do everything on about a 180 degree variance from what they did today. I wanted bats, early and often. Instead, it was Relief Pitcher Hour early. Despite not getting much of anything I requested, a few truisms showed up. They were different than I expected, and had become used to. The Cubs are swaying a bit differently, which may be progress.
Michael McAvene was the third-round choice. For those of you who have said "Get a bullpen, please," this was the start of a different sort of draft day. McAvene is the closer for a really good Louisville team. Not only is he a leverage reliever for a team in the final 16, he was recently suspended for four games for arguing a ball/strike call. (A player ejection requires a four-game suspension in college baseball.)
Not that McAvene is a troublemaker, but I didn't hear a single Cubs draft choice on Tuesday lauded as a humanitarian. Usually, that has been a draft day emphasis. It may just be that talent is being prioritized more than before. After McAvene was Southern Cal reliever Christopher Clarke. Pitcher Josh Burgmann went in Round 4, and I was having flashbacks to 2016 and 2017, when bats were largely ignored. I was expecting college arms for days.
In the MLB Draft, a coherent (at least, internally) strategy is required. Drafting 27th, the Cubs likely needed more than one. If they were going to get the guy they wanted, they'd have one or two strategies. Their fallback option would require a strategy or two. If everything went south, as apparently happened, Plan C would be run with. My hunch is that "Draft Fresno's Ryan Jensen" was Plan C. They had money room against the cap as the second day commenced. If they could add quality with a discount, they could still upgrade the draft, a la the 2014 draft, when getting Kyle Schwarber at a discount allowed some later gambles.
Assuming that Jensen was at a discount, McAvene could have been, as well. Getting a four-game ban made a pitcher who was a mild third-round reach in the first place (Drafting leverage relievers in the third round isn't standard.) even less likely to want to stay in school as a senior. Two of three, and potentially three of four, selections looked like cost-savings.
In Round 6, the Cubs rolled the dice. They asked highly ranked catcher Ethan Hearn what his magic number was, and decided they could pull it off. The Cubs had drafted a name prep. After that, a fifth-year senior and former Cubs draft pick (Brad Depperman) looked like another cost-savings pick.
The next choice, DJ Herz, was another "known" prep. It's odd to sign a high school player on Day 2 without expecting to sign him. Herz may be a reliever from the start, but appeared on lists, including lists of North Carolina commits. At this point, adding two seniors with little upside would have been a tolerable loss. After all, adding Hearn and Herz were pivotal on the strategy. However, the Cubs may have parlayed a third gift.
Preps often misfire as professionals. As much as the college junior is boring, he knows what it's like to be away from home. He's already survived a degree of freedom, which sometimes waylays an unsuspecting prep selection. Some never develop into full-season options. However, the hope is that, given three valid preps, one will cash, as Dylan Cease did in being flipped for Jose Quintana. In Round 9, the Cubs divined a third prep. Chicagoland pitcher Tyler Schlaffer gives them a third prep, and this one smacks of "I really wanted to play for the Cubs."
The Cubs closed Day Two with a catcher from California's Antelope Valley Junior College's Wyatt Hendrie. The Epstein drafts Hendrie chuckle goes back to the 2019 draft's California roots. With a top three catcher added, the bullpen acknowledged, and three preps in the first ten, a strategy was seemingly cobbled together.
I'd dig a few bats on Day Three, but I haven't been consulted. Thirty more names today, and the cycle resumes again. For the first time that I remember since mainlining a Cubs draft, the off-the-field angle hasn't been played with a degree of regularity. Perhaps the selection process is different this season. More velocity, and less humanitarian.