Before I start this article, I give you a question to ponder. Try to guess what these three MLB players have in common: Brandon Lowe, Harrison Bader and Jordan Hicks. What they have in common will be announced later in the article.
While you think about that, here are three more profiles of Cubs instructional league players.
Brad Deppermann was drafted twice by the Cubs: Once before college (East Lake HS. Tarpon Springs, Florida), and once after his senior season at North Florida (Jacksonville). East Lake High had two players signed from their squad in the 2016 Draft. Pitchers Tavis McGregor went to the Pirates, and Christian James to the Mets. Neither has yet played in MLB.
Deppermann's career at North Florida was more workmanlike than spectacular, but his final campaign of 2019 saw him fan 108 hitters in 95 innings with a 2.46 ERA. Not a bad get for a senior signing. His partial pro season added only 11⅔ innings to his resume. Deppermann likely pencils in as a reliever as a professional.
Fabian Pertuz was signed internationally out of Barranquilla, Colombia in the northern portion of the country. The Magdalena River bathes the Soledad region of Colombia, which includes Barranquila. Pertuz was signed for $300,000 after being in the Orlando Cabrera Prospect Sport Baseball School, and started his pro career.
After misfiring against pitchers who (like Deppermann) were far more experienced than Pertuz, he fared much better in the Dominican League, posting an average of .298 and an OPS of .846. Pertuz flashed speed, with six triples and 36 stolen bases in 62 games. In 2019, in the Arizona Rookie League, his BA climbed to .325 against stiffer competition, but his OPS slumped to .795 on only one triple. That Pertuz is in Instructional Ball at barely 20 years old is a step in the right direction.
Bryan Hudson, a lefthanded pitcher, was drafted by the Cubs in the third round in 2015 out of Alton High School in Alton, Illinois. I seem to remember hearing that the Cubs brass attended a few of his high school basketball games to decide on Hudson, who has since advanced as far as Advanced-A Ball. Much of the rest of this article isn't intended to bag on Hudson as a player or person, but to specifically point out a mistake I've noticed in recent Cubs drafting methods.
Nine players drafted after Hudson in the 2015 third round have debuted in MLB, including Lowe, Bader, and Hicks. Two are regular hitters for playoff squads in 2020. Lowe played ball at Maryland. Bader played for the Gators in Gainesville. Bader hit 17 homers as a junior in the SEC with an OPS of .959. Lowe's OPS was .928 in Nebraska.
I'm not here to say anyone could have projected Lowe or Bader to be who they are now in MLB in 2015. However, it seems reasonably safe to assume that either Bader or Lowe would have likely reached Double-A by some point in 2017. Which would have given either plenty of opportunity to adjust to that level of minor league pitching to push to provide MLB depth by not too long after that.
The Cubs have, in too many drafts, virtually ignored perfectly good college hitters, like Lowe and Bader, to the detriment of the team. Which leads to a prospect drain every trade deadline, as prospects are flipped for rental bats the Cubs don't have in the upper minors. Which leads to fewer bats being available in a few years.
If "trading a prospect to acquire Cameron Maybin" is a more creative idea than "selecting a few useful college bats in the third to sixth round each cycle," I really can't say I'm sold anymore on the executives of the Cubs. Draft and develop better, or bring in executives who will.