The draft is still underway, and I can’t help but be happy with how things are going so far.
Round Three – Jacob Hannemann, OF
This is the somewhat oddball pick of the draft. Thanks to taking time off for a missions trip, Hannemann is older than we’d otherwise expect. But that also means he also put up pretty good numbers this year despite taking a couple years off. His main weapon is his speed, and for that reason he draws obvious comparisons to Matt Szczur. I think he has more polish than Szczur was when drafted, but less than Szczur shows now.
I don’t look for Hannemann to move fast. Because of that missions trip he is likely to be one of the oldest players in the low minors, but this will be a case where looking at age alone will be deceptive.
There is some upside here. I want to see him in the minors before I go too far with pegging his ceiling, but I have to admit I like what I see. It was surprising to see the Cubs take a college OF in the third round, but among the college hitters left on the board I think Hannemann had about as much upside as any of them.
For now I’ll project Hannemann to be assigned to Boise after a brief stint in the Arizona Rookie League. Kane County is also a possibility.
Round Four – Tyler Skulina, RHP
Last year the Cubs seemed to like big right handed college starters, and at 6’5″ Skulina definitely fits that mold. He features a pretty good fastball / curve combination and has some good movement on his pitches, but he probably needs to develop a quality change up before he can realistically stick in the starting rotation. If he can develop that pitch he has mid-rotation starter potential.
I think his upside is comparable to second round pick Rob Zastryzny, but Zastryzny will be ranked more highly due to being left handed. Skulina is a candidate to check in at the lower end of the Cubs Top 30 prospects; that rank will rise, though, if he can add that change up.
The Cubs are likely to limit his innings for the rest of this year. He could open anywhere from Boise to Tennessee depending on where innings are available.
Round Five – Trey Masek, RHP
As a fifth rounder, Masek is an absolute steal. This guy would have been a defensible pick at the back of the first round and a high quality one in the second. I absolutely love that the Cubs snagged him in the fifth.
He already has a pretty good mix of three pitches, including a sinking change up that I can imagine generating a lot of ground ball outs as he moves up the system. Like all light weight pitchers there are concerns about his ability to stay in the starting rotation, but I think the Cubs will give him every chance to hold down that job. Even if he goes to the bullpen, though, he has setup man or closer potential.
Masek is definitely a candidate for the Cubs Top 20. In fact, do not be surprised if he sneaks into the back end of the Top 10 on some rankings. The upside is that of a legitimate No 3 starter or a quality back of the bullpen reliever. The Cubs will likely limit his innings this season as well, and like Skulina he could open up anywhere from Boise to Tennessee depending on where innings happen to be available. He has a chance to move up quickly when he really gets going next year.
If the Cubs saved any money in Rounds Two or Three, they may need to spend it here.
Five draft picks, five college players. The Cubs are clearly looking for players who can help sooner rather than later, and I think that is a good thing. The Cubs are drafting players who could arrive in the next one to three years, right when the Cubs should be establishing themselves at the top of the division.
Starting in Round Six I think we will start to see quite a few college seniors come of the board. These will largely be picks that teams can sign well under slot (due to no leverage), freeing up draft pool money to use elsewhere. There will be some more high ceiling, tough signing types come off the board starting tomorrow in Round Eleven.