This year’s first-year player draft looked a bit different than it has in the recent past for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs had always taken a handful of “hard-to-sign” types (so-called because they hold the leverage of going to, or going back to, school should they choose not to sign – these are kids who fall in the draft to rounds much lower than their talent level, and who cost a pretty penny to sign (they are said to receive “overslot” bonuses)), and signed only a handful of the handful.
I don’t think anyone would argue that the Cubs took far more hard-to-sign types this year than they have in recent memory. Better still, Scouting Director Tim Wilken said that he was told by owner Tom Ricketts to go ahead and select whatever kids he deemed worth picking. The implication was, when it came time to sign, the money would be there.
So far, the Cubs have made a couple nice overslot signings, but nothing beyond the ordinary, or possibly good, year.
There’s a rumor floating around that that’s about to change.
This one comes with the greatest rumor caveat of all: it’s from an anonymous Internet poster (albeit one with an apparently solid track record – he had the Trevor Gretzky signing days before anyone else). I checked with a scouting source I know to see if he’d heard anything along the lines of the rumor, and, although he’d not heard about it specifically, he had consistently heard that the Cubs intended to “make a splash” this year via the draft, so the rumor being true wouldn’t surprise him.
As usual, I figure you’re all big boys and girls and can evaluate the veracity of the rumor for yourselves, with my caveats offered as an assist. Ok, enough hemming.
The rumor is this: the Chicago Cubs have essentially agreed to terms with ALL of the following: second round first baseman Dan Vogelbach, eleventh round outfielder Shawon Dunston, Jr., and fourteenth round pitcher Dillon Maples.
Those three represent, easily, the three toughest to sign kids the Cubs took in the draft, and all three were considered late first-round talent. Each just graduated high school, and was thought to be solidly committed to their respective colleges of choice. Signing one of the three would have helped make the draft solid. Signing all three? I’m not sure anyone even thought that was possible.
The same rumor has the Cubs also signing pitcher Austin Urban, about whom I know little. He sounds like another overslot type, though not on par with the above three. Here’s an article about Urban, for those inclined to learn.
Note that, even if the Cubs sign these kids this week (or, indeed, have already signed them), we might not hear about it for a little while yet. Overslot signings take time for the Commissioner’s office to approve, and then there’s a lag before the announcement. The Cubs only just announced the signing of Trevor Gretzky, while reports say he actually signed early last week.