As much as people "wait, then harangue" regarding free agent signings, few bother to put up goal posts for draft classes. Probably because people don't feel like waiting seven or eight years. However, if a team is first or second in their division in draft productivity in eight or so of 10 years, that’s certainly a positive. Minding a draft pool's value is a starting point for assessing Liam Spence.
Liam Spence, infield
Born April 9, 1998, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
2021 Cubs 5th Round pick from the University of Tennessee
If a player is First Team All-Conference in the Southeastern Conference, he is probably pretty good, regardless the sport or position. This includes a shortstop from the other hemisphere. Spence, whose older brother Josh Spence played in MLB in 2011 and 2012, was an offensive sparkplug for the Volunteers. He led off, hitting .336 and walking more than he struck out. Midway through the season, he had a hamstring tweak that I'm not convinced ever healed.
Upon reaching pro ball, Spence had a three at-bat cameo in Mesa. While the normal promotion would have been to Low-A Myrtle Beach, the Pelicans’ middle infield was muddled. Spence moved to Advanced-A South Bend, and struggled. With the I-Cubs having the last games in the pipeline, Spence ended the 2021 season there.
To look at a Draft Class, the goal ought to be maximizing long-term value. After Jordan Wicks signed for first round slot, James Triantos went for overslot in the second. After prep lefty Drew Gray went third, many of the rest of the picks were college choices. They don't necessarily have high ceilings, but they are experienced against college competition. Getting a First Team SEC shortstop on the cheap has little "negative blow-up" potential. Perhaps he'll figure it out, or not. Grabbing good talent at low rates is generally a good idea. We'll see if it cashes.
If Spence provides a bit of versatility and depth on top of the bigger names up the ladder, complaints should be minimal.