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2021 MLB Draft Prep: Jumping the market

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Should the Cubs go after a reliever in the early rounds? Here’s one idea.

Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Last cycle, the Cubs jumped the relief market, selecting Burl Carraway in the second round. He wasn’t the best pitcher available, potentially. He was, likely, the best reliever. If you’re one of those swept up in the bullpen mayhem, you may wonder who the best college relief arm is. That is a rather easy one to solve. It seems to be Kevin Kopps of Arkansas, who has been much better than the elite Southeastern Conference so far. The question is, in which round should he go?

Is Kopps the guy?

I ran my idea by Mason McRae. Kopps doesn’t throw 98 or 99. The six-footer from Sugar Land, Texas is “that guy” out of the pen for the Razorbacks, and he comes in whenever needed. He’s as likely to smash a rally in the fourth as the seventh. He’ll even come in with his team behind. SEC hitters don’t do much with him. Nobody does.

From Mason McRae, still my go-to on the draft, his draft board has Kopps in the 230 range.

In case you don’t want to look, Kopps rolls with his slider/cutter well more than anything else, but it tunnels well with a low 90s fastball. That doesn’t sound like it should produce the numbers above, but it does.

Could he be a better closer as a pro than in college? Probably, but pitchers come with heavy risk, and pure relievers come with limited upside. Carraway has been very up-and-down early in his career. Anything “funky” enough to throw hitters off might be as likely to stall out advancement in the pro game.

It isn’t that a reliever can’t have upside. It’s that jumping the market on relievers likely leaves a better hitter or starting pitcher on the board. On the board to move somewhat less slowly, but with a much bigger upside than a reliever.

Poll

Would you be good with the Cubs "jumping the market" on a reliever?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Yes
    (11 votes)
  • 40%
    No
    (30 votes)
  • 22%
    Depends
    (17 votes)
  • 18%
    Probably not.
    (14 votes)
  • 2%
    Not interested in the draft.
    (2 votes)
74 votes total Vote Now

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