The string of college players continues. Through eight rounds the Cubs have stuck exclusively to the college ranks, and six of the eight have been pitchers.
Round Six – Scott Frazier, RHP
He’s big (6’7″) and throws in the low to mid 90s. He was inconsistent this year and that inconsistency probably caused him to fall a few rounds. He is a legitimate mid rotation starter candidate that the Cubs have to be happy to have fall into their lap as late as the sixth round.
Like the rest of the college starters the Cubs have taken, I expect he will be on an innings limit this season. It may be next year before we really see him challenged in a full season league.
Round Seven – David Garner, RHP
Garner is the first pitcher taken that is not at least six feet tall, but don’t let that size mislead you. His fastball is clocked in the mid 90s, and he pairs it with a good slider. If the Cubs leave him in the bullpen (and I think they should), he could be the first player in this draft to reach the majors. A fastball / slider combo should be all he needs to record tough outs late in games.
He has had some control issues, though, and he will need to get a handle on that before he really has a chance to take off in the system. If he signs quickly the Cubs might be willing to start him in the bullpen as high as Daytona this summer.
Round Eight – Sam Wilson, LHP
The Cubs get their second lefty of the draft. Wilson was drafted once before as a two-way guy (could be a hitter or a pitcher), but this time his future is very clearly on the mound. He is perhaps the most raw of the pitchers the Cubs have taken this year. Despite that lack of refinement, though, he is already showing a power arm with the potential for three pitches that grade average to plus. That’s the recipe another mid-rotation starter.
The Cubs will need to be a little more patient with Wilson as compared to some of their other college arms from this draft, but the upside appears to be comparable to the rest of the class. I doubt he opens 2014 any higher than Kane County.
The Cubs definitely had a plan to load up on college players, especially pitchers. Despite that strategy, I don’t think the Cubs have skimped on ceiling. The Cubs are stocking up on pitchers with a legitimate chance to hold down a major league rotation job one day, and given the rounds they are finding these pitchers that is fairly impressive.
The Cubs are also not going cheap yet. Other teams are reaching for signability college seniors, but not the Cubs. For eight straight picks they have taken quality talent. As a result, the Cubs may already have one of the deeper draft classes this year.
Now, how long can they keep it up? Unless they know they are saving some cash near the top of the draft (maybe from signing Bryant a little under slot), they may have to take a signability senior in rounds nine or ten.
I think we may see some high school pitchers showing up for the Cubs soon. They are consistently taking college pitchers who can throw in the low to mid 90s, but those players are going to start becoming harder to find. The Cubs will not stick with college draftees for the all forty rounds. They’re bound to tap into the high school ranks eventually, and a hard throwing but raw high school pitcher would be the logical place to make that switch.