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.

  • The Magicman

    what about javier baez?

    • Brett

      I still haven’t heard anything. That said, no one is sounding the alarm that he might not sign, so I’m not concerned.

  • philoe beddoe

    If Shawon Jr. learned how to hit from his dad, I don’t want him…Shawon Sr. makes the current Cubs look patient…he made Soriano look like Wade Boggs…

    true fact…Barry Bonds drew more walks in 2003 than Shawon Dunston did in his entire 18 year career…

    • Joe

      in all fairness to the debate Barry Bonds 2004 (I am assuming you mean 04 because that is the only year where Bonds had >200 walks which would be greater than Dunston’s 203ish career walks) walk totals are not due to great patience or strike zone knowledge but in large part thanks to his 120 IBB and it is widely known that even beyond those 120 “Official” IBB’s pitchers were often told to not throw anything close to the zone.

      All-in-all I would much rather Jr be like Bonds than Sr. if for nothing else than Bonds pre-steroid BB rates in the high teens and low 20’s.

  • Cheryl

    Hope the rumor is true about Vogelbach and Maples. Have little knowledge about Dunston. How good is he?

    • Brett

      Supposedly he was a back-end of the first round talent. I’d be lying if I tried to offer much more than that. If/when he signs, I’ll have more. A lot of folks in the Cubs world didn’t really look into it too much because it was all but assumed he would not sign.

  • Ron

    This says a lot about the direction of the organization and an actual plan beyond next year.

    To beatTWC, we just need to het more left handed.

    • TWC

      Just wait ’til next year, Ronnie!

  • Cheryl

    Depending on how much of a change there is via trades and the number of rookies that move up in August, it should be a pretty good indicator that Q is gone. He doesn’t seem to play new guys and that’d be a requirement with large changes. If the changes are drastic enough, could he be fired in August?

    • hardtop

      i dont see the pint in firing q-ball. it appears his coaching staff is equally lousy and would not manage the team as well or better. if you are going to pay a guy and have bad coaching, you may as well have that guy you’re paying coach badly for you.

      • Jeff

        There’s a certain triple A manager that has his team 20 games over .500 and is very familiar with the young guys that need to be getting playing time as the year moves on. He also stresses defense and fundamentals. If it’s decided that Quade is not the guy Rickett’s thought he was getting, he could fire him at any time and be replaced by an outside guy or by bringing up one of the guys from the minors to coach. Bill Dancy’s been coaching for a while with moderate success, and Mariano Duncan and Brian Harper have both been interviewed for big league jobs already. I think a change in approach and attitude would do a heck of a lot for this team, and the young players need to be around someone that let’s them grow and learn from mistakes, not someone who blames them for losses and/or refuses to play them.

        • hardtop

          i’ve read that ryne is pretty soured on the cubs after not being selected as manager. Do you think ryno would consider coming back if hendry and kenney were fired? maybe with an apology from ricketts and big statue somewhere 😉 ? afterall, it was hendry’s decision to hire q over ryne, right? i wonder if we have any sources in the phillies camp? anyone that could speak to sandbergs state of mind with regard to a no hendry scenario? does he hate ricketts, or does he just hate hendry?

  • hardtop

    oops, to be clear: I meant, I don’t see the point in firing q-ball THIS SEASON (being that the interim coaching staff would be poop too). I definitely think he should be fired immediately after this horrible season mercifully comes to an end.

  • Cheryl

    Hardtop, I agree somewhere along the line he should be let go but my point is whoever is incharge when the rookies are brought up, he can’t just sit them like in the past. They’ve got to know what they’ve got and the only way to really know is to play them. Q has a tendency to always stick with the veterans no matter how poorly they do. If they get rid of two outfielders – Byrd and Fuu, who will Q play, DeWitt and Baker?

    • hardtop

      gotchya. good point. well it may have to come down from ricketts who he wants to see on the field… or maybe our new president gillick might have some say 😉

  • JulioZuleta

    Happened to be looking for a scouting report on Michael Jensen kid and stumbled across this.
    Don’t know much about the kid, but some seem to have him above Jacquez. Either way, happy to have another hand on deck.

    • Brett

      Whoa, great find, JZ. I’m going to have to look into him, especially if folks have him on par with/better than Jacquez. Speaking of which, there’ll be a post on Jacquez up a little later this morning.

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