The 2012 MLB Draft starts on Monday with the first round, and the Chicago Cubs may be zeroing in on their selection.

According to multiple reports, yesterday the Cubs had high school shortstop Carlos Correa and high school pitcher Max Fried in to Chicago, where they were worked out and interviewed. You can learn a little more about Correa and Fried here (where I listed each as one of ten possible first round candidates for the Cubs), but the gist is Correa is a gifted shortstop prospect with a great bat, and Fried is a gifted lefty starter with a “projectable frame.” According to Bruce Levine, the Correa workout even included Dale Sveum throwing batting practice to the youngster.

Each of Correa or Fried would make sense for the Cubs to pick at number six overall, though increasingly, mock drafts have Correa going off the board before number six. Is it possible that the Cubs have Correa at number one on their board, and Fried as the back-up plan?

Of course we can’t possibly know. The Cubs very likely have at least six players on a list whom they would be happy to take with the sixth overall pick, and they’ll conduct as much due diligence on each (as well as many other players) as they possibly can. And, with this front office, you can’t even rule out the possibility of misdirection.

That said, I do think it’s quite likely that the Cubs are focusing on these two players, given their talent, and where the Cubs will be selecting. At least one of the two is likely to still be on the board at six.

Many months ago, when folks asked me whom I thought the Cubs might take in the Draft, my go-to guess was Fried. It was too early to actually guess, of course, but I knew the Cubs were interested, and I also had a sense that this front office believes lefty starting pitchers could be especially valuable at Wrigley Field. Given the relative dearth of quality lefty starters in the Cubs’ system, I could see them picking Fried, given how close in talent the players at the top of the Draft are this year. (That is to say, selecting Fried isn’t about Drafting to need – the Cubs might still believe he’s the “best available” player at number 6, it’s just that his status as a lefty starter might be a tie-breaker.)

If the Cubs had a shot at one of the big three college pitchers (Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, Kyle Zimmer), I’d prefer they went that direction, if only because they are incrementally “safer” (older, more experienced, not injured after more innings), and just as talented. They are also – again incrementally – more likely to sign. If Correa is off the board before the Cubs pick, it is likely that one of those three college arms (or college catcher Mike Zunino, whom I also like) would still be on the board. At that point, would the Cubs go with Fried or the remaining college arm?

I’m sure the visits yesterday (and others like it) are also about showing the kids Wrigley Field, getting the excitement of playing there in their heads, so that, when it comes time to sign, they’ve got just a little more incentive. And it’s also probably about planting some negotiating seeds. Given that this year, moreso than any in the recent past, teams would love to be able to sign guys for under slot, so that the savings can be used elsewhere in the Draft. Maybe the Cubs drop some hints with these kids to gauge their willingness to accept, for example, $3 million, rather than the $3.25 million slot value.

The good news about this year’s Draft? Assuming the Cubs take any of the top eight or so prospects (which they will obviously have the opportunity to do), it’s going to be fair to be happy and excited about the pick. No one, at this point, expects the Cubs to take a “surprise.”

Unless they’re going to try and game the money angle, but, well, more on that later.

  • Luke

    I suspect that more potential picks will be visiting Wrigley before Monday.

    • Brett

      Indeed. And many have probably visited already without fanfare.

  • Cheryl

    Interesting that their comments focused on areas I asked avout, luke.

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Let’s get Fried!!!

  • ETS

    Any chance the cubs go with Giolito?

    • Brett

      Very slim – given his elbow injury, and the fact that he hasn’t yet thrown off a mound, I’d think that, if a team were going to take a chance on him, they’d be having/have had private workouts with him. It’s possible the Cubs have and it hasn’t been reported, but I’d be surprised if they could keep something like that under wraps.

  • Norm

    I would hope they are not focusing on these two, but focusing on six guys.

    • Brett

      I’m sure they’re looking a great many players. But it’s conceivable that they’ve got Correa and Fried at the top of their board, and are confident that one will be there at six.

  • Kyle

    I’m reminded of the story of drafting Pedroia. One of the scouts or something loved him, and one of the executives just didn’t see it, so they ended up having a private workout at Fenway.

  • baldtaxguy

    I should know this, but if a high schooler does not sign and goes to college, does the club lose his rights?

    • Kyle

      Yes. But if the pick was high enough (I forget how high in the new CBA, first-round only?) they get it replaced one spot later in the next draft. I.E. if you fail to sign the No. 6 overall, you get an extra pick at No. 7 the next year.

      • baldtaxguy


      • Ryno G

        It’s the first 3 rounds that are protected.

    • ETS

      Yup. The Cubs actually drafted Lincecum out of HS (or maybe it was after 1 year of college) but they couldn’t persuade him to sign.

      • Kyle

        I always think of Prior being first drafted by the Yankees.

        • ETS

          What’s great with Lincecum is that the cubs took him in the low 40’s then another team (I can’t remember who) took him – also, I believe in the 40’s, and finally he was a 1st rounder for the giants. Think signability might have been a concern?

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Moreover, a college scholarship is a better offer than a guy in the 40 something round is going to get. This will be even more true with the new CBA than it was in the past.  I seem to recall that Lincecum was even drafted a “3rd” time (really second) by (I think) the Indians, but he elected to stay in college.

  • ChiTownGuido23

    I wonder how Baez and Correa would fit into the cubs future if he was drafted

    • hansman1982

      They would do everything in their power to get each playing SS until that was impossible by whatever it is at that time.

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    I wonder with the new rules, how it will affect the high schoolers at the top of the draft. They can improve position, but only slightly if it’s in the top 10. That is a pretty big risk now with slotting. I don’t think the high schoolers at the top have the leverage they once had. Curious how it will shake out this year.

    • Brett

      I think you’re probably right. If you’re taken sixth, you can go to college and wait three years before you can be drafted again, hoping to get another million (you’re not going to get a blowout payday like in years past), or you can take your $3 million now.

      As I think about it, maybe it would be easier to squeeze a high schooler up that high than it would be to squeeze a college junior who can come back in just one year.

      • Luke

        If that high schooler goes to a junior college, I believe he can be draft eligible in less than three years.

        And then we have the independent leagues.  I think a player could, for instance, turn down $1.3 million now, go make a few bucks playing in the Frontier League (or somewhere else), and potentially sign for $3.5 million next year.

        It’s a gamble all the way around.  I think the better high school players will be inclined to sign.  It’s the next tier down who think they could put themselves in the top tier with a bit of college that will be tougher to land.

        • Brett

          You are correct on those outs, but I think most of the top high schoolers have already accepted scholarships to D1 schools (I don’t think they can back out and go to a Juco unless they don’t qualify, but I could be wrong on that).

  • Stephen

    Again…if we dont get Zimmer, i want Wacha. I want NO PART OF CORREA!!!

    Just ask me why!!!

    • Norm

      I’ll bite.

      If the Cubs take Wacha at 6 I’ll consider it a big FAIL.

      • Luke

        For me, drafting Wacha would be fine if and only if it sets up the drafting of another high ceiling, potentially high impact player later on.  If Wacha signs for under slot, it could be a smart strategy.

        Suppose, for instance, that the Cubs were able to walk away with Wacha and, say, Matt Smoral with their first two picks.  That might not be a bad plan.

        Not that I expect Smoral to still be there in the 40s, but you get the idea.

        There would have to be some quasi-pre-arranged deals, though.

      • Stephen

        No real reason… other than I’m still reeling from Harvey and Montanez. Also, we need pitching and Wacha should sign under slot if we take him at 6, thus freeing up more $$$ for the later rounds.
        There is no super talent this year and paying another HS kid that’s not an all world talent gives me the heebie jeebies.

  • Mike S

    Found a video of Max Fried at the Area Code baseball game in California.

  • Mike S

    Here is one of Carlos Correa fielding and hitting. He’s a big boy, swing looks like it needs some work but has very quiet hands.

    • Luke

      I know Correa is allegedly surging on the draft boards, but I still think I’d take Almora over him.

      • North Side Irish

        This is why the draft talk is so much fun…everyone has such different opinions. Plus, with the MLB draft, most of the kids are so far from making the majors that it’s all speculation and projection, so there’s not a lot of wrong answers.

        You like Almora over Correa, but the guys at Perfect Game have Correa as the clear top prospect in this draft. And either one of you could end up being right. With no clear cut Harper/Strasburg type at 1.1, everyone’s got different thoughts at the top of the draft and most all of them are defensible

        • Stephen

          Agreed North side…
          Last year I was flabbergasted (sp?) when Bundy, Cole and Hultzen came off the board early. I had spent so much time researching these kids that I felt like I knew them!
          As you mentioned, with no true#1 pick out there, I have broadened my research and found multiple interesting players that we could select with our 4 early picks.
          Much more exciting than watching this years big club…. :(

  • ibcnu2222 (John)

    ESPN has the cubs taking fried even with zimmer still on the board. Wouldn’t Zimmer be a better pick?

    • Luke

      Zimmer’s velocity has been down this season causing some concern.

      But in that scenario, I would expect the Cubs to take Zimmer.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Any idea where Giolito would go? If he could slip to the second round…that would be amazing.

    • Kyle

      If he doesn’t go very early, he will go very late or not at all.

      The rumors are he wants $5 million or he’ll go to college. And with the slot/cap system, no team can afford to give him that outside of a very high pick.

  • Jzwizard

    I feel like the Cubs are set at SS for awhile now. They need to add an elite starting pitcher and I hope they can get one in this draft. Castro will hopefully be the SS for at least anotdecade and I think Baez will be able to switch over to 3B successfully.

  • gutshot5820

    If Gio does not agree to a pre-arranged deal with a top 8 drafting team, he will go undrafted. The only way to meet his contract demands is to know how much he will be willing to sign for and to plan the draft around it. No team can just draft him with a later pick on the chance he may sign. Any team would have to plan under slots in order to sign him and if they do not it will be impossible to sign him.