With a five-round draft, and precious little reason for a high-end talent to leave a college environment for a scant $20,000 signing bonus, the Cubs have a few holes to fill with their five choices this month. My take is that, as long as Jason Heyward is the best right field option in the organization (he still is), the Cubs would be benefited greatly by adding a power-hitting corner outfielder with Dexter Fowler’s departure. Javier Baez and Kris Bryant are starting down free agency. The starting rotation has some gaps. Regardless what the first choice fills in, other selections had better be useful, or the Cubs will continue to lose ground to teams that draft and develop better than they do.
Anthony Servideo, shortstop, Ole Miss
Anybody who starts as a middle infielder in the prestigious Southeastern Conference can play college baseball, and deserves a professional look. (That is much of my case for teams being negligent regarding Whit Merrifield, who was an SEC middle-infield starter.) Servideo has the defensive chops to likely stay at short, and quickness to solidify the opinion. Last summer, he was terrible offensively in the Cape Cod League, but was much better in the four week college season.
My comp for Servideo would be a better defensive Mike Fontenot. It's accepted that the Cubs like to overload in the draft up the middle, as compared to the corners. Servideo makes sense even with the soon-to-be-signed Cristian Hernandez, but not with Hernandez and Ed Howard, a Chicago prep shortstop. At some point, the other holes have to get filled.
Here are some highlights from Servideo’s career:
Parker Chavers, outfield, Coastal Carolina
I put outfield, because where he fits in is up for debate. His arm should be strong enough for center or right, but he has taken a few 'adventuresome' routes, regardless the position. Is he below average? Or just inexperienced? Scouts and coaches are important.
His pop plays more in batting practice than games, thus far. His left-handed swing has been much better against right-handed throwers. A likely second-round choice, he'll get far more chances to get better than a player with less perceived credibility. A gamble choice that might pancake, or be a regular.
Here is Chavers playing in last year’s Cape Cod League:
Zach DeLoach, center field, Texas A&M
While Servideo struggled on the Cape, DeLoach won a batting title with a wood bat. He has enough power to be dangerous, but the contact can be a question. Possibly a bit along the Brett Jackson lines, it will depend on the player developing under the current coaching staff.
I missed out on any A&M games this season, so I never developed any feel for DeLoach, but he'd help cover the developmental deficiencies in center in the pipeline. I'd be okay with DeLoach, but the right field concern wouldn't be improved with his presence.
Here are some DeLoach highlights from his A&M career:
Alika Williams, shortstop, Arizona State
Yes, another shortstop. I was aware of Arizona State games, but mostly due to Spencer Torkelson's missile-launching service. Torkelson will be no more available for the Cubs at 16 than he would be at 6. As for Williams, the defense should play. His bat figures to be more gap power than home runs, but the whole "drafting need" plays more in 2020 than it should.
Hudson Haskin, center field, Tulane
About a year ago, I stumbled into Tulane baseball, and was rewarded with third baseman Kody Hoese. This cycle, Hudson Haskin was their center fielder. Their pitching was an adventure, but their bats rewarded repeated visits. Haskin's swing isn't pretty, but he's gotten results. He has pop, and his arm ought to play in center. Video:
As you look to the Cubs future, the best long-term plays are successful draft selections or international signings. If an organization waits for a player to "put up numbers as a professional", they cease to be a bargain. How would you like the Cubs to diversify their five choices, given that you can't demand results, only positions?