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2021 MLB Draft Prep: Early January edition

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A few thoughts, six months out from the draft.

Sal Frelick plays in the Futures League in July 2020
Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A recent interview of Cubs prospect Davidjohn (DJ) Herz by a lesser-known Cubs prospect writer caught my attention. I knew a bit about Herz, but not that much. He's never played in a game with a broadcast and has pitched in just six pro games, all in the Arizona Rookie League in 2019. After reading the interview, I had to check my premises. "Reward excellence, or encourage mediocrity" is one of my main tenets, as is trying to avoid hypocrisy. The interview’s worth a read.

Baseball begins next month, regardless what the King of Baseball One, Rob Manfred, says. College games, in some fashion, figure to resume in February. Will MLB Network increase their coverage? Especially if MLB Spring Training gets back-burnered? If so, I want people to feel free to comment on games they're following here. Bat pings from composite bats don’t sound the same as those from wood bats, but baseball is baseball. Whether you choose to get swept away in college games or not is up to you, but for the handfuls of you that have teams you like, share your comments. I want this to be the outlet people look for regarding Cubs Draft Prep, BCB regulars or not. With free agency apparently limited to low-seven figure guys, the draft seems large.

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Per Arizona Phil at The Cub Reporter, trading even Competitive Draft choices is out in 2021. I've seen no confirmation, but the Brewers recently had sent draft choices for Alex Claudio (in December 2018) and Omar Narvaez (in December 2019). That option seems off the board now, along with trading international space.

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I remain bullish on "best bat available" for the Cubs at the 21st overall pick in July. I could be sold on a pitcher, but a fast-moving college bat who hits Wrigley in 2023 would seem preferable. Quite a few of the names appearing on mock drafts in the 19-27 range still seem to be outfielders with center or right field in their viewfinder, many with power or leadoff hitter traits. If my writings, or those of people who actually escape Northern Illinois to watch games live, get you to check in on Arkansas' Christian Franklin, Boston College's Sal Frelick (pictured above), or someone else, check back in with your assessments.

While "college bat" remains my 60 percent hunch for the Cubs’ top pick, two prep bats remains as a nagging thought for now. Iowa high school catcher Ian Moller won't leave my.mind:

The conundrum of catcher "not being a system position of need" butts heads directly with "Why not be interested in a prep catcher who does the defense thing, and has an advanced bat?" is maddening. On the other hand, toolsy prep outfielder Joshua Baez seems to have patterned his game after another J. Baez:

At least 80 names will be very valid picks; here is a Top 100 list from MLB.com, and if you want to dig deeper, here are 350 possible draft prospects. Many of these will be on college teams that are likely playing baseball next month. Teams with a campus no more north than Peoria or Bloomington might be worth following.

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Seven Illini players are on the list for inclusion in the Draft League (the former Appalachian League). Nobody played much last year, but the list of who is being included is telling. For instance, former Cubs draft pick Jason Goldstein is draft-eligible. He was a starter last season. Goldstein isn't one of the seven.

Ryan Hampe played at UIC in 2019, and switched to John Logan Community College in Cartersville, Illinois (near Carbondale) for 2020, where he carved. Now, Hampe moves to Illinois, and he is the guy in the draft league. Mr. Baseball One seems to be trying to quell criticism of the former Appalachian League apparatus by hiring amateur baseball people to run a chance for reserve types and bullpen arms to try to impress scouts. I guess it's better than them having no option to play anywhere.

If you want to increase your knowledge of the draft options, or spread your knowledge of them, your participation is welcomed. If the premise doesn’t interest you, please respect those who are interested.