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2021 MLB Draft Prep: A service interruption

A Twitter outage last week means a little less information.

Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

I was among those whose Twitter was virtually useless last Friday night, well into the weekend. Since Twitter is my primary mechanism for knowing who is doing what across the baseball world, I was skiing with a blindfold on. As such, I’ll take a mild veer to talk some about the Cubs alternate training site team that split two games with the White Sox squad from Schaumburg. Assessing de facto Triple-A squads aren’t typically Draft look stuff. However, I noticed a trend that is mildly Draft-centric.

While many of the Cubs’ alternate site squad players are leftovers with MLB experience (Cameron Maybin, Nick Martini, Rafael Ortega, and others), a name in the White Sox lineup jumped out at me. Gavin Sheets (whose dad Larry played in MLB from 1984-93) was a second-round draft pick by the White Sox in 2017. As a 2017 college choice (Wake Forest), he became Rule 5 Draft-eligible in 2020, but isn’t likely to be poached. As he’s unlikely to go anywhere else, the Sox can keep Sheets until minor league free agency kicks in after the 2023 season. Conversely, the players the Cubs keep trotting through as Triple-A outfielders, like Ian Miller, have to be re-signed in each successive season. If Sheets impresses another team enough, he can be a trade chip, or he’ll likely stay through until free agency kicks in. If the Sox add him to the MLB roster, he extends even further.

The Cubs have gotten a bit notorious for overly-zealously drafting pitchers who have somewhat under-performed. It isn’t that the Cubs should avoid drafting pitchers. A well-balanced organization ought to be near 50/50 much of the time, with the heavy side being determined by a form of “best available when they were on the clock”. Instead, the Cubs selected only two hitters in the first 20 rounds of the 2016 draft. Of the eight selected in the first 20 rounds in 2017 (which doesn’t sound bad), only three are still hitters in the Cubs system, now.

It isn’t that grabbing a roughly equal number of hitters and pitchers will guarantee anything. If the selection process or development plans misfire, even the best plans can be foiled. However, with as many things can (and have) gone wrong with pitchers for the Cubs from draft day to a major league debut, grabbing a few more hitters that can actually hit would limit the need to send Cameron Maybin to steal at-bats from Brennen Davis and Andy Weber (who did fairly well in spring training as developing youngsters) in the future.

A few draft-related notes:

Chase Petty, the prep hard-thrower, is tossing in games now.

Dylan Neuse is done for the year. I doubt it’s the type of injury that messes with his draft position much, but maybe it is.

Here’s a better draft look at Sam Bachman than I would give.

Evan Russell hit three homers on Saturday for Tennessee. The first two were off of uber-prospect Jack Leiter. The third was an 8th inning grand slam. He’d homered twice, earlier in the season, off of LSU’s Jaden Hill. Russell’s numbers are a bit skewed toward games with name starting pitchers.

I still don’t buy the Volunteers as a valid top-five team in the country, but they win enough games to make that a hard-to-defend opinion. Most top five baseball teams have a near-certain first-day draft pick. The Vols churn pitching staffs, and have enviable depth on both sides of the ball.

Methinks the bloke in left deserves to get mobbed.

Alek Jacob tossed a no-hitter for Gonzaga.

In case any of you are looking ahead, the 2022 MLB Draft is considered quite impressive, 15 months out.

I apologize for the abbreviated look. Technology.