It's about time to start "looking" at players for real for next week's draft. The quotes refer to the reality that nobody has played a game since March. A standard way of assessing top-end talent is to watch them play eight or 10 times, and regard the best and worst outings as outliers. Assess who the player is, and, more importantly, who your system will develop him into in five or six seasons. I dig Mason McRae's assessments, but you can use whichever tool you prefer. I've lopped off the top few, and these are a few of the names the Cubs might select. There’s some recent (or as recent as can be) video included.
Nick Loftin, shortstop, Baylor
Loftin has been a bit of a "watch-and-see" type at Baylor. He didn't start out as any sort of certainty, but has shown enough with the bat and glove to answer most of the questions positively. There's a bit of a more polished David Bote here. Since my comps tend to be retired players, Bobby Grich seems not entirely inaccurate.
His swing isn't anything special, either good or bad. I'm not totally sure he's a shortstop, in the same way I'm not sure Nico Hoerner is a shortstop. I wouldn't volunteer to tell Loftin that. He should be an MLBer. Think Chris Taylor from the Dodgers, minus some of the speed, possibly.
Here are some Loftin batting highlights:
Reid Detmers, lefthanded pitcher, Louisville
Closely calibrate your radar gun before his game. You might need it for the other starting pitcher. Detmers will sit 88-92, but hitters at the college level rarely square him up. To throw names out as comps, I go back a ways. Randy Jones? Dave McNally? Hawk Harrelson used to talk about hitters that give you a comfortable 0-for-4. Detmers is like that.
Does that mean his repertoire will carry all the way to MLB? Of course not. Considering how important decisions like these are, I'd much prefer fight-to-the-death argument over Detmers versus (insert player here) at 16 as compared to rhetoric over incidental signings, for what little that's worth. I doubt Detmers is on the board at 16, but whoever gets him likely gets a better prospect than the Cubs do.
Here’s some video of Detmers vs. Western Michigan earlier this year. (The title card on the video says 2019, but this is from February 2020.)
Garrett Mitchell, outfield, UCLA
Out of high school, Mitchell was a four-tool player, lacking only the arm. Two-plus tears of college ball have him as a legitimate center or right fielder into pro ball. His power is tough to nail down, though. It hasn't shown up much in games.
If Mitchell slips anywhere near the Cubs, he becomes my top choice. Whether the power manifests at the top level or not, Mitchell should be able to find his way on base. I'm not sure if you know this or not, but Cubs center fielders have been brutal for most of the last 80 years. If Mitchell is the guy, the organization should take all the time in the world they need, and have his usable at either right or center. By 2023, when whatever baseball normalcy will be by then returns, Mitchell may well be a "top five in the order" type.
He is a Type 1 diabetes afflicted, as Ron Santo was. Treatment and acceptance have come a long way in fifty years. I'm confident Chase Strumpf (the Cubs second-rounder in 2019, and also a UCLA Bruin) would be given a chance to vouch for Mitchell, who seems to have mildly slipped since March.
Here are some Mitchell hitting highlights:
Dylan Crews, right field, HS (Florida)
Whether you're interested in Crews at sixteen, given complete current knowledge, says more about you that the player. Crews has a big swing without any glaring holes. He should hit for average, and power. He has very little speed, and will likely be a right-field, as the arm should play. Do you want a sub-standard defender in right in Wrigley?
I make it a point to minimize preps in my assessments, as what are you learning from a beast crushing 72-and-straight heaters. But, Crews is a name that deserves discussion. And, why I really detest the re-draft idea. A team has until draft day to scrounge actionable information. To criticize a team for not knowing what they couldn't possibly have known seems absurd.
If Crews turns into a healthy Giancarlo Stanton, front offices will be humiliated by armchair executives in a decade. If the bat/glove combo turn out to Matt LaPorta instead, the team that took him will be mocked. Here’s a prospect video featuring Crews:
Teams have a bit less than two weeks to decide, not eight years. I'll toss together a few of these up until the draft. With no games to monitor recently, my intel is dried up. However, if you have a name you'd like included, feel free to request.