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.

 




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