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2021 MLB Draft Prep: A look at some possible Cubs first-round picks

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Here are some outfielders the Cubs could select.

Sal Frelick playing for the North Shore Navigators in the Futures League in July 2020
Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Cubs figure to have a few quality players to choose from at 1.21 when the MLB Draft happens next summer, and Boston College's Sal Frelick is among them. Here’s what Prospect 365’s Ian Smith says about him:

A gritty, hard nosed center fielder with impressive barrel skills heads to the Windy City. Frelick is built into a stocky frame that shows plus foot speed and elite instincts in center field. Will be a double digit base stealer at the next level. Compact, left-handed swing can generate surprising raw power due to some of the best in class bat speed. Hit tool is a ready plus tool and will use the whole field. This can be a type of prospect that could make his way to Wrigley is just a couple of years due to his advanced makeup.

There are two principal ideas for running these sorts of articles. One is to help you become more aware of what might be available in the range of the Cubs selections. The second is to spur thought and discussion on what types of players you'd prefer. Quite a few Cubs fans are (somewhat justifiably) frustrated by a lack of quality at-bats by some of the Cubs core. Much of that seems to stem from harder-throwing relievers with filthy breaking stuff following more pitchers dragging high-90s into the fifth or sixth innings.

That wasn't as prevalent in 2016 and 2017 as it is with the better teams in 2020 and going forward. Other teams have adjusted to Cubs hitters, who have somewhat failed to adjust back. As such, which types of players fascinate you? Three different outfielders look to be in the 18-23 range with the draft eight months away. One is Frelick. Two others — Christian Franklin from Arkansas, and Colton Cowser from Sam Houston State — are outfielders in that range.

It's a long time until the Cubs are on the clock, but hitting the first pick properly next July seems even more important with owners and executives leaning more toward letting players go to free agency (or trade) after their walk years. Ignoring that seeming reality would be a bit daft on anyone's part. As much as "spending $250 million per season on payroll" might be tempting from a fan perspective, if it isn't happening, reality ought to compel the wise baseball fan to adjust expectations.

I'd be good with Frelick, Franklin, or Cowser, pending college games in February and March. The question shouldn't be "Will they be starters soon?" so much as "Do they look like they would be useful MLB-type talent?" It's tough to assess four to eight years in the future, but if a team awaits full knowledge on how good a player is, the good ones are then too expensive.

I'd ballpark Frelick as a bit of an Albert Almora Jr. type with better speed and from the left side. A very important admission is that I have no idea if Frelick will hit MLB pitching, but he could represent the old-timey lead-off man, with speed and the ability to spray the ball about. If you're a fan of contact hitters with occasional power, Frelick is your guy.

Reading well-thought out and research prospect pieces is useful in assessing information internally. Here’s one from our fellow SB Nation site Lookout Landing. Even if the featured player or players aren't likely Cubs, thinking about MLB's future is a useful venture. Here's a nice article on some potential prep bats for July. It's stored in one of my dual draft hashtags on Twitter. Sometimes, I use #2021CubsDraft. Other times, it's #Cubs2021Draft. I encourage checking in or contributing, particularly if you believe that player selection and development in the past are why the Cubs are where they are now.