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The future for the Chicago Cubs (*crickets*) starts tonight with the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft. The Cubs pick 9th, and then not again until the second round tomorrow, so you’ll want to tune in early. The Draft starts at 6pm CST (7pm EST) and will be televised on MLB Network. It’s not like there’s anything else worth watching at that time. Ok, ok, it’s worth seeing Matt Garza’s return to the rotation. But you can flip back and forth.

Feel free to use this post for Draft-related comments.

The Cubs have been attached to a number of names in the last few days, including high school studly positional player Bubba Starling, high school studly pitcher Archie Bradley, as well as a couple UConn players – pitcher Matt Barnes and outfielder George Springer. Truth be told, as long as the Cubs don’t reach for an unknown again this year, I’ll be happy. Stick to the book this time around – at least then if the kid busts, it’s much harder to criticize.

And, yet, now there’s late-breaking buzz that the Cubs are considering going “way off the board” to select a 23-year-old draft-eligible Cuban defector named Onelki Garcia Speck. He’s a hard-throwing lefty, but the experts hadn’t heard much about him until today, and they talk about him as a second-half of the first round prospect, at best. Even if the Cubs don’t go with Speck, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus says the rumor is that Tim Wilken is going to “shock the world” again this year. Fingers crossed it’s just smoke.

UPDATE: At 9th overall, the Cubs selected high school SS Javier Baez, who – what do you know – was actually roundly considered a top 15 pick! Hooray! By the book! The Cubs narrowly missed getting one of Starling or Anthony Rendon, which would have been awesome. But I’m not complaining. We’ll have a full write-up tomorrow, but here’s the short of it from MLB.com:

While the college bat scene is relatively thin, there are some very intriguing high school position players available. Baez is certainly one of them, and his name seemed to be moving up boards as the Draft approached.

Fellow Floridian Francisco Lindor will likely go off the board first, but Baez may not be that far behind. That’s largely because of his bat. He gets his money’s worth at the plate, and the ball jumps off his bat thanks to excellent bat speed. He doesn’t have the best plate discipline, but he should be an above-average hitter in the future. He’s got good power, especially to the pull side.

He’s an average runner who won’t be a basestealer, but he’s OK when under way. Defensively, he likely won’t be able to remain at shortstop, with some thinking he’ll make a good third baseman at the next level. He’s got the arm and good hands for it, and the lack of range at short won’t be an issue.

It also looks like he’ll have the bat for the corner spot, and that kind of potential production will likely allow him to be selected as early as the first half of the first round.

 

  • Michigan Goat

    All the more reason I won’t be sad if Wilken leaves with Hendry. It’s time for a new regime at all levels.

    • Zach

      I agree if he picks another unknown player than he needs to go with Hendry and everyone else. I just hope that the Cubs pick the best available player.

  • Jeff

    Looking forward to seeing what happens tonight. If Starling falls to the Cubs and they pass on him for an unknown player, I wonder what kind of backlash it would bring.

    • Ace

      And I think we’ll know everything we need to know about the Cubs’ financial picture…

  • Ace

    Ok, so it sounds like the reason the Cubs (among others) just jumped on Speck at the last minute is because MLB ruled he was draft eligible at 10pm last night.

    …and then they just took it back.

  • Ace

    Cole goes first overall to the Pirates. No surprise.

  • Jeff

    Draft is live streaming in MLB.com for free. You can watch the game and the draft at the same time.

  • Ace

    Seattle takes Virginia LHP Danny Hultzen at two, which is a mild surprise. Folks had them taking Rice 3B Anthony Rendon, who might now take a fall. Hultzen was expected to go three or four.

  • Ace

    That pick might have just cost the Cubs a chance at Starling. Many folks think the Nats were hoping they could get Hultzen, and now they’ll probably grab Starling if he’s available.

  • Ace

    Cubs have an outside chance at Rendon now, which wouldn’t be a bad pick at all.

  • Jeff

    From what I’ve heard, the gap between 1 and 9 isn’t all that great and it’s a really top heavy draft, so anyone who has been talked about is probably a good pick. That’s why a surprise pick tonight would be pretty crazy.

    • Ace

      No kidding. If there was ever a time to pick by the book, it’s in this draft. You can snag a dozen surprises later in this extremely deep draft.

  • Ace

    D-backs take the other UCLA stud, Trevor Bauer at three. No surprise.

  • Ace

    Ok, this pick by the Orioles is huge for the Cubs. Fingers crossed that the Orioles take a “signability” guy.

  • Jeff

    Is it just me or does Bud Selig seem like he’s not exactly sure what “on the clock” means every time he says it.

    • Ace

      He looks like he barely understands what breathing is every time he does it.

  • Jeff

    Here comes the two biggest worry spots.

  • Ace

    Crud. O’s take high school stud Dylan Bundy at four, who is definitely not a “signability” guy.

  • Ace

    Just about everyone had KC taking Bundy, so, this could be dicey.

  • Ace

    Daaaaaaamn. Royals take Bubba Starling. *sad trombone*

    • Tanner

      He is going to go to University of Nebraska for football and baseball. I don’t think he will sign, but he did say that he has always been a Royal fan, and if they pick him he would be totally honored. I would be surprised if he signs with KC.

  • Ace

    With Hultzen and Starling gone, there’s a fair chance the Nats take Rendon now. Grumble.

  • http://Bleachernation Ramy16

    Rendon..still there…if aramis leaves…this guy major League ready?

  • http://Bleachernation Ramy16

    Why would the Nats take rendon when they have zimmerman

  • Ace

    And double damn. Nats take Rendon at six.

  • Jeff

    Pretty sure Cubs will take George Springer.

  • http://Bleachernation Ramy16

    Datum…they took him..why don’t know

  • http://Bleachernation Ramy16

    We need pitching 3rd baseman..1st baseman..etc

  • Ace

    D-Backs take high school pitcher Archie Bradley, another of the guys the Cubs were considering.

  • Ace

    I’m thinking, if they go by the book, the Cubs take Springer or Barnes. Neither knocks your socks off like Starling or Rendon would have, but they’re good players.

  • Ace

    Indians take Francisco Lindor, high school SS. Cubs are on the clock.

  • Ace

    Cubs take high school SS Javier Baez. He’s no Starling, but it’s a good pick.

    • Raymond Robert Koenig

      I’ll take your word for it, Ace. But to me it looks like they panicked when Starling and Lindor were gone and drafted this kid too high. They should have picked Gray.

  • Jeff

    Could be the third baseman of the future.

  • Roughriider

    From THE SPORTING NEWS
    If you didn’t know better, you’d think Baez’s stats were compiled while playing in a recreational softball league. And make no mistake, his Jacksonville, Fla.-based school didn’t shy away from competition. Baez hit .771 with 22 homers, 64 hits, 20 doubles and 52 RBIs. And only three strikeouts.

  • KB

    Last Cub high draft pick to hit over .700 in high school? Shawon Dunston.
    Number one overall pick!

    And then he was introduced to the curve ball.

    • TWC

      If I had three pitches to strike out Shawon Dunston, I’d have thrown them in the 3rd base dugout.

      I think I would have had a fair chance at the strikeout.

      • Raymond Robert Koenig

        Shawon Dunston was one of my favorite Cubs. He hustled all the time. If he hit a one-hopper back to the pitcher, he sprinted to first base. All Cubs that followed him should have followed that example. Also, besides having the strongest arm I’ve ever seen, he could track down and catch pop-ups better than any shortstop I’ve ever seen. Make light of his hitting if you like, but if the Cubs had 8 guys today that played their positions like Dunston, they’d win.

        • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

          I don’t disagree with a word you’ve witten, Ray-Bob. I’d add, too, that his cannon-like arm was incredible (especially when he got it near first base*). That Dunston-Sandberg-Grace infield was pretty great.

          I actually looked up the stats after I made that comment (I check my facts after I state them) and it seems my memory of him chasing every single ball that was low and outside might have been a bit unfair. His strikeout rate wasn’t really that bad… and, you’re right, he ran out everything he hit.

          *Mark Grace on Dunston: “I owe him a lot. Nobody would know how good I was at digging balls out of the dirt if it wasn’t for him and all those bad throws.”

    • Ace

      That’s cold, man.

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