Tonight, the first round of the 2023 MLB Draft begins at 6 pm Central time. The Cubs have the 13th pick of the first round in what most observers are calling the strongest draft in recent memory.
You can watch the Draft on either the MLB Network or ESPN. It is also available for streaming on MLB.com or ESPN+. There will be a one-hour pre-game broadcast, starting at 5 p.m. Central, before the actual picks start.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the first pick in the draft and the Washington Nationals pick second. Here is the draft order leading up to the Cubs’ pick.
Recent players taken with the 13th pick include Zach Neto (2022), Patrick Bailey (2020), Trea Turner (2014), Hunter Renfroe (2013), Brandon Nimmo (2011) and Chris Sale (2010). Going back a little further, Cleveland took Manny Ramirez with the 13th pick back in 1991, which, as Doug Glanville likes to point out, was one spot after the Cubs took him at number 12.
As a quick reminder, trading picks are not allowed in the draft, except for the Competitive Balance picks after the first and second round. So the Cubs will definitely pick 13th.
However, it is common for teams to pick someone who would agree to an “underslot” deal that would allow them the extra money in their bonus pool to pick another first-round talent who slipped later in the draft because of his bonus demands. This is often called the baseball equivalent of trading down. In a draft as deep and strong as this one, expect a lot of teams to try that this season.
The Cubs forfeited their second-round pick this year to sign free agent Dansby Swanson. However, they get an extra pick back at the end of the second round, the 68th pick, for losing Willson Contreras.
Rounds 3 through 10 will take place on Monday, starting at 1 p.m. Central. Rounds 11 through 20 take place on Tuesday, also starting at 1 p.m. Central. Monday’s and Tuesday’s rounds are only broadcast online through MLB dot com. Tuesday’s broadcast will just be a conference call.
Two LSU players, right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes and outfielder Dylan Crews, are expected to be among the first three players taken. Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford could upset the two Tigers going 1-2, as could Indiana high school outfielder Max Clark and North Carolina high school outfielder Walker Jenkins. In other seasons, all five of those players would be the first pick.
None of those five players will still be available when the Cubs pick, but you can read this preview for an idea of some of the players the Cubs might be considering. In weaker years, the players the Cubs will be picking from would go in the top five.
Last year, the Cubs surprised a lot of people by taking Oklahoma right-hander Cade Horton with the seventh pick of the draft. That pick is looking pretty good right now as Horton has quickly become a Top 100 prospect. The Cubs picked pitchers with 16 of their 20 picks last year.
I expect that they will take more position players than just four this year.
Here are the first-round picks the Cubs have made under the leadership of Theo Epstein or Jed Hoyer. The number after is the overall number where they were selected in the first round.
2012 Albert Almora OF (6)
2013 Kris Bryant 3B (2)
2014 Kyle Schwarber C (4)
2015 Ian Happ OF (9)
2016 No pick. (Jason Heyward signing)
2017 Brendon Little LHP (27), Alex Lange RHP (30)
2018 Nico Hoerner SS (24)
2019 Ryan Jensen RHP (27)
2020 Ed Howard SS (16)
2021 Jordan Wicks LHP (21)
2022 Cade Horton RHP (7)
Here is who the Cubs are predicted to take in various mock drafts. These are as final a mock draft as I could find for today.
Baseball America: Jacob Wilson SS Grand Canyon.
MLB Pipeline Jim Callis: Nolan Schanuel 1B/OF Florida Atlantic
MLB Pipeline Jonathan Mayo: Arjun Nimmala Strawberry Crest HS (FL)
The Athletic Keith Law: Matt Shaw SS Maryland
ESPN Kiley McDaniel: Nimmala Late update: Shaw.
Fangraphs Eric Longenhagen: Schanuel
This is an open thread.