It’s the final day of the 2022 MLB Draft with rounds 11 through 20 today.
The 11th and 12th rounds are some of the most interesting rounds of the draft, because today’s rounds are where there is no penalty for not signing the player drafted. So in the first two or three rounds today, teams will take a few “tough sign” high school players and see if they can talk them out of going to college.
Today’s rounds are once again conducted by a conference call which starts at 1 p.m. Central time. You can follow along on mlb.com. Some of the later rounds are fun in that the team representatives give shout-outs to their scouts or other front office personnel who worked so hard to make this thing happen.
Looking back at yesterday, the Cubs took a lot of pitchers with high upsides, extensive injury histories and a lot of risk. So far, nine of the ten players the Cubs have drafted are pitchers. Eight of the nine pitchers are right-handed.
The players the Cubs have taken so far are:
- Cade Horton. RHP. Oklahoma.
- Jackson Ferris. LHP. IMG Academy (FL).
- Christopher Paciolla. SS. Temecula Valley HS (CA).
- Nazier Mulé. RHP. Passiac Tech HS (NJ).
- Brandon Birdsell. RHP. Texas Tech.
- Will Frisch. RHP. Oregon State.
- Nick Hull. RHP. Grand Canyon U. (AZ).
- Mason McGwire. RHP. Capistrano Valley HS (CA).
- Connor Noland. RHP. Arkansas.
- Brody McCullough. RHP. Wingate U. (NC).
I already covered Horton and Ferris. who were taken on Day 1.
The big news is McGwire, who is the son of former Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire. Focusing on Mason, here’s a video of him pitching.
Clearly the 6’4” Mason is a projectable right-hander with good velocity and excellent bloodlines. The fact that he could force his dad to sit in the stands at Wrigley Field and sing “Go Cubs Go” is just a side benefit.
Of course, the more highly-regarded prospects come from the earlier rounds, although fellow eighth-round pick DJ Herz would probably beg to differ. Third-round pick Paciolla, the only pure hitter in the draft class, is a promising 6’2”, 185 pound shortstop with a good power stroke. There are some questions about his hit tool and his ability to stay at shortstop, but there’s some real power upside there.
Here’s a look at Paciolla’s power:
Big day today for 2022 Christopher Paciolla of @tvbearsbaseball and @UCLABaseball commit. Chris went 4 for 5 with 2 doubles, 1HR, 3 walks, 1HBP, and 5 RBI’s In a double header vs Riverside Poly. Great job Chris! @PBR_California @LesLukach #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/xATec86Jem— West Coast Blackdogs (@WCBlackdogs) February 20, 2022
I say Paciolla is the only “pure” hitter because fourth-round pick Mulé has been a two-way player in high school this year. He hit .427 with eight home runs as a first baseman and DH in high school. He only pitched a few innings this year because of arm soreness, but before that, he had a 92-to-96 mile per hour fastball. His slider and changeup need work, but have some promise. He played shortstop before his arm injury forced a move to first base and he’s an excellent athlete.
The Cubs drafted Mulé as a pitcher, but:
On 4th-rounder Nazier Mule -- a two-way star in high school -- Cubs vp of scouting Dan Kantrovitz said the primary focus is pitching. But...— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 18, 2022
"But, he’s a pretty dynamic talent and I don’t think anybody would be averse to being open-minded on some kind of two-way role, either."
So there is the possibility of some two-way development.
Here’s some video of Mulé pitching before he got hurt.
After playing the entire game at SS, Nazier Mule pitches the bottom of the 9th.— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) July 10, 2021
Strikes out the side with a walk living a ho hum 96-98 T99, and nasty offspeed. #Dude things for the best two-way player in the 2022 class. pic.twitter.com/poCmFQjx90
The 22-year-old Birdsell was the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year after going 9-3 with a 2.75 ERA (26 earned runs in 85 innings), 106 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP in 15 starts for Texas Tech. He has a 95-to-96 mph fastball that can touch 99, which he pairs up with a plus slider. Whether he can improve his fringy changeup and stay healthy will decide whether or not he stays in the rotation or moves to the bullpen.
Birdsell has had some injury history. A rotator cuff injury (that did not require surgery) cut his 2021 season short. Still, the Twins took him in the 11th round last year anyway.
Here are some highlights. His delivery is really simple and he really doesn’t use his legs much. We’ll see if the Cubs try to get him to change that.
Texas Tech's Brandon Birdsell had 9 K's over 5 innings against Iowa yesterday. His fastball sat about 94-96 while topping out at 98, his slider sat about 85 (83-87).— James Weisser (@JWeisser88) March 20, 2022
Impressive velo for the game time temp being in the 40's. pic.twitter.com/d5dPGSMxaI
Sixth-round pick Will Frisch had a great 2021 season with the Beavers and was expected to be a top starter for them this year, but Tommy John surgery ended his season before it began. So he is a pitcher who fell to the sixth round because of health issues. When healthy, he had three pitches and his fastball touched as high as 98 miles per hour.
Noland was forced into being Arkansas’ ace this year because of injuries to others, but he acquitted himself well with a 3.65 ERA. His fastball is below average at 89-to-91 miles per hour, but he has an above-average slider and above-average control.
I expect that all 10 players will sign. The Cubs would not have drafted them if they weren’t very confident that they will sign.
This is an open thread.