With “Signing Day” passed, the Chicago Cubs’ 2011 draft is officially in the books. I think most would agree it was an unqualified success – a singular bright spot in an otherwise disastrous 2011 season.
Drafts are evaluated twice: first at the time, and then later in hindsight. Right now, this appears to be the Cubs’ best draft in 10 years, and one of the best in baseball.
Yes, drafts are unpredictable, and this could ultimately prove a bust. But, there are two reasons to get excited, even if you recognize (correctly) that most of these kids will never play a game in the bigs. First, they’re all lottery tickets – some with better odds than others. So, it’s good to accumulate as many tickets as you can (especially the “good odds” ones), because eventually, one of them will hit. Second, prospects are trade chips. Even if they aren’t going to play for your team, it’s better to have as many “good” prospects as you can.
The purpose of this roundup is to give you a high-enough level overview to be useful (and memorable, since most of these kids will not resurface around these pages for a year or more), but in-depth enough to have value.
I’m the first to admit I’m not a draftnik, so you’re not going to get a scout’s or a hardcore prospecting service’s take on the draft. But I do read a lot. So, while I can’t point to sources on all of the information contained herein, they reflect a sense I’ve picked up from all that I’ve read and heard from scouts and sources.
A final caveat to excitement: the Cubs’ draft was heavily skewed toward high school talent, a seeming change from the Cubs’ past philosophy under Scouting Director Tim Wilken (which could be related to the opened checkbook this year). All four of the Cubs’ “first-round talent” type picks were high schoolers. That means that the second evaluation – hindsight – could be a ways off. It also means that, although we’re excited about these kids right now, you’ll have to be patient. Even the best high school prospects don’t make the show for two to four years.
Ok. Enough gum-flapping. On to the picks:
1. Javier Baez, SS (HS) – Signed for $2.62 million, which is a bit above the slot recommendation for the 9th overall pick. Most of the first rounders this year – especially the high ones – got overslot money, so his bonus alone doesn’t really impress. But, don’t get me wrong: Baez was a solid pick and enters the system as a top five prospect.
2. Daniel Vogelbach, 1B (HS) – Signed for $1.6 million, which is almost triple his slot recommendation. The large, slugging first baseman is immediately a fringe top 15 prospect in the system.
3. Ezekiel (Zeke) DeVoss, OF (Miami) – Signed for $500k, which is over slot. DeVoss signed early in the process, and has already made a name for himself as the rare Cubs prospect who can take a walk. he’s primarily been playing second base.
4. Tony Zych, RHP (Louisville) – Signed for $400k, which is over slot. Zych is a power reliever who could move fast through the system. If you had to pick someone to be the first to crack the big leagues, it would be Zych.
5. Tayler Scott, RHP (HS) – Signed for $280k, which is over slot. Scott is a high upside kid (a South African soccer player, you’ll note) who hasn’t been pitching all that long. He’s a project, to be sure, but could be a gem down the road if he continues to develop.
6. Neftali Rosario, C (HS) – Signed for $150k, which is just a hair over slot. Rosario is already raking on the Cubs’ rookie league team in Arizona.
7. Trevor Gretzky, 1B (HS) – Signed for $375k, which is way over slot. Gretzky is a big kid whom the guys who do “projections” like to say could really develop into something special. While that’s true, it’s also a nice way of saying he’s a long way off, and needs a lot of work. His senior year shoulder problems undoubtedly hampered his development, but the Cubs have been all over him for some time now. And it ain’t just because of his last name.
8. Taylor Dugas, CF (Alabama) – Did not sign. Headed back to Alabama. Whateves.
9. Garrett Schlecht, OF (HS) – Signed for $235k, which is over slot. Schlecht is a great athlete who was also a pretty successful pitcher.
10. Daniel Lockhart, SS (HS) – Signed for $395k, which is way over slot. Lockhart is not a scout’s favorite, so the Cubs must have seen something they really liked to give him such a (relatively) big bonus. In fact, the bonus indicates the Cubs believe he’s a top three round type talent.
11. Shawon Dunston, Jr., CF (HS) – Signed for $1.275 million, which, you don’t need me to tell you, is way, way over slot. Dunston is raw as a baseball player, but is a heck of an athlete. The Cubs paid handsomely to get Dunston to forgo a strong commitment to Vanderbilt, so they clearly like him a lot. Some say Dunston was a fringe, back-end-of-the-first/supplemental round talent.
12. Jacob Lindgren, LHP (HS) – Did not sign. Headed to Mississippi State.
13. Darien (Trey) Martin, CF (HS) – Signed for $250k, which is strongly over slot. He’s already playing on the rookie league team, but, in 12 games, isn’t having much success. Wilken was talking him up, specifically, though.
14. Dillon Maples, RHP (HS) – BOOM, signed for $2.5 million, a post-second round draft record. Obviously this is first round money for a first round talent, and Maples is instantly a top 10/15 prospect in the Cubs’ system. The upside here is huge.
15. Justin Marra, C (HS) – Signed for $100k. When you start getting down the later rounds, there isn’t a specific “slot” recommendation (correct me if I’m wrong on that). But, $100k is more than most kids this late get, so we’ll call it overslot.
16. Rafael Lopez, C (FSU) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot (again, I’m using that term as shorthand for “tyipcal”) money.
17. John Andreoli, RF (UConn) – Signed, and said that it was “an offer [he] couldn’t refuse.” I doubt it was a huge amount, but I’m sure it was overslot. Andreoli was not a scout favorite, so, once again, the Cubs must have seen something they really liked.
18. James Pugliese, RHP (Mercer Co. CC) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money. He’s currently putting up meh numbers in Arizona.
19. Danny Hoilman, 1B (East Tenn. St.) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money. One of the most productive power hitters in college ball last year, Hoilman started right out at low A-ball in Boise after signing. He’s raked – .266/.400/.518 – but he’s already 22.
20. Ben Klafczynski, OF (Kent St.) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money. Klafczynski signed almost immediately, so he’s already played 49 games in the Cubs’ system, and has reached A-ball Peoria. Unfortunately, none of that playing has been particularly good, and he turns 23 in September.
21. Andrew McKirahan, LHP (Texas) – Signed for $75k, which I suspect is a bit more than average. We’ll call it overslot. He’s dominating in Arizona (nine appearances), but that’s what you would expect from a 21-year-old, polished college pitcher in rookie ball. Probably time for him to move up.
22. Ethan Elias, RHP (HS) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money.
23. Bradley Zimmer, OF (HS) – Did not sign. I guess he’s going to school.
24. George Asmus, RHP (Ohlone Col.) – Did not sign. I guess he’s staying in school.
25. Roderick (Rock) Shoulders, 1B (Manatee CC) – Signed for $294k, which is way above slot. Shoulders was one of the best juco players in the country, and the Cubs ponied up to get some more power in the system. Between Vogelbach, Hoilman, and Shoulders, the Cubs added a ton of power-hitting first basemen in this draft – and that’s not counting Trevor Gretzky, who might well end up as a power-hitting first baseman.
26. Michael Jensen, RHP (Hartnell JC) – Signed for $225k, which is well above slot. Scouting types are big Jensen fans, so he’s one to watch.
27. Taiwan Easterling, OF (FSU) – Signed for $200k, which is over slot. Easterling was a football player at Florida State who dabbled in baseball. Now that he’s doing baseball full-time, the Cubs are pretty excited about his upside. Right now, he’s struggling at Peoria, which was to be expected given his previous football commitment.
28. Christopher Garrison, RHP (West. Nev. CC) – Did not sign.
29. Drew Weeks, 3B (HS) – Did not sign.
30. Arturo Maltos-Garcia, RHP (Lamar CC) – Signed. Though I don’t have the specific number, Maltos-Garcia was set to be a big-ish prospect when he hurt his arm earlier this year. He slipped, and the Cubs drafted him late, paid him overslot money, and paid for Tommy John surgery, which he had a few weeks ago. If he comes back strong, this could be a quiet steal.
31. Ronnie Richardson, OF (Central Fla.) – Did not sign.
32. Peter Levitt, RHP (Mt. Olive Col.) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money. He’s currently pitching poorly at Peoria.
33. Sheldon McDonald, LHP (U. Brit. Columbia) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money. See Peter Levitt, but change “Peoria” to “Boise.”
34. Hunter Kelley, OF (Calhoun CC) – Did not sign.
35. Ian Dickson, RHP (Lafayette Col.) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money.
36. Travis Garcia, INF (Martin Meth. Col.) – Signed, but then retired. He’s the William Henry Harrison of Cubs prospects.
37. Steven Maxwell, RHP (TCU) – Did not sign.
38. Casey Lucchese, RHP (Col. Charleston) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money.
39. Ricky Jacquez, RHP (HS) – Did not sign, which was a bummer. Jacquez was a big-time prospect, who probably wanted seven figures to forgo a commitment to Texas. For whatever reason, the two sides couldn’t come to terms.
40. Patrick Francescon, RHP (Trevecca Nazarene) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money. Currently pitching so-so at Peoria.
41. Austin Urban, RHP (Des Moines Area CC) – Signed for $100k, which is overslot. Urban is another young pitcher about whom the Cubs feel strongly. I’m not saying it’s the same thing, but two years ago, the Cubs drafted a young, juco pitcher in the 32 round and gave him just about $100k to sign. He was named Trey McNutt. Point is: these kids can become relevant very quickly.
42. Brad Zapenas, SS (Boston Col.) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money. Currently putting up bad numbers at low-A Boise.
43. Jay Calhoun, RHP (HS) – Did not sign.
44. Kenny Socorro, SS (Marshall) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money. See Brad Zapenas, except the numbers are worse.
45. Tanner Kichler, RHP (HS) – Did not sign.
46. Scott Weismann, RHP (Clemson) – Signed, but I can’t find the terms. I’ll assume he received slot money.
47. David Ernst, RHP (HS) – Did not sign.
48. Sam Howard, LHP (HS) – Did not sign.
49. Antonio Gonzales, LHP (HS) – Did not sign.
50. Cody Edwards, RHP (Bellevue CC) – Did not sign.
The Final Tallies
Total Signees: 34
Total Overslot Signees: At least 20.
Total “Way Overslot” Signees: At least 8.
Total First Round Talents: 3 or 4 (Baez, Vogelbach, Maples, Dunston).
Total Top Three Round Talents: At least 10 (Baez, Vogelbach, DeVoss, Zych, Scott, Gretzky, Lockhart, Maples, Dunston, Shoulders). Yes, this is a very rough estimate.
Total Money Spent: About $12 million
Total Money Spent in 2010: About $4.7 million.
Total Level of Excitement on a Scale of One to Ten: Oprah. I’m the one in red: