The final day of the 2013 MLB Draft has arrived, and with it come the final 30 rounds. In some ways, each day of the Draft has about the same level of relative import – the first couple rounds, then the next eight, then the final 30. Although the prime talent has, for the most part, been selected already, that doesn’t mean the best future players have already been selected. Today is where your scouts make their money, finding diamonds in the rough – kids they’ve been scouting for months and fighting for as they pass word up the chain about a great young arm out in Iowa.
Intriguingly, the Draft was split up to begin today with the first round that is not subject to the teams’ bonus pools. Recall, each team has a bonus pool for the first ten rounds, and, if they exceed that total allotment, they are penalized. Worse, if the team does not sign a player in the first ten rounds, the team loses its pool money for that pick – so there’s a lot of risk in drafting guys that you know will be tough to sign. Today, that risk goes away. Teams can freely swing for the fences knowing that, if they fail to sign the kid, all they’ve lost is the opportunity to draft someone else instead.
Further, picks from rounds 11 through 40 are each allowed to be signed for up to a $100K signing bonus, without any ramifications whatsoever. If a team signs a kid for more than that amount, however, the overage does count against the bonus pool. Taking this all together, what does it mean? Well, it means you’ll see a fair number of “tough signs” drafted today, where teams know they can draft a player without risking losing any bonus money, but knowing that they’re going to have to pony up more than $100K to sign him. At that point, you just hope you saved enough pool money over the first two days to make it happen.
Odds are strong that we’re going to see a fair number of the top high school talents that haven’t yet been drafted – and who are thought to be tough to sign because of college commitments or high bonus demands – go off the board in the first few rounds today. The Cubs have selected just one high school player to this point in the Draft, but I suspect many more are coming very soon.
You can follow along today at MLB.com on the streaming conference call of the Draft (beginning at 12pm CT), or you can just follow the coverage here. I’ll be updating live once again today.
11. Jordan Hankins, Catcher, Austin Peay State. – Interesting. The Cubs lead off with a collegiate catcher, and a junior at that. Hankins was on the collegiate US National Team last year, so he’s obviously a quality player. He hit .352/.452/.545 this year, and took far more walks than he struck out. Cubs must like him, and they do need catchers, even though it looks like he was only a part-time catcher. BA’s Aaron Fitt really likes the pick for the Cubs, and says Hankins can hit. Calls him a good all-around player. Baseball!
12. Trevor Clifton, RHP, Heritage High School (TN). – And there’s your first upside high schooler of the day. Clifton, who only just turned 18, is 148 on BA’s top 500 prospects, meaning he was expected to go much sooner than this, and will likely be a tough sign. Here’s MLB.com’s take: “Clifton, a projectable right-hander out of Heritage H.S. (Tenn.), has increased his Draft stock this spring, thanks in part to an uptick in the velocity of his fastball. It has been in the low-90s this spring and touched as high as 97 mph. Clifton is listed at 6-foot-4, 170 pounds and has room to add the strength necessary to sustain his newfound velocity gains. Clifton also throws a curveball and changeup. While his arm action is clean, Clifton’s delivery still needs to be cleaned up. He has a good feel for pitching and has performed well under pressure this spring. Clifton is committed to Kentucky.” Yeah, this is a very legit prospect right here.
13. Trevor Graham, RHP, Franklin Pierce U. – Another big righty starter, Graham is a college junior. Here’s MLB.com’s take: “Graham is a right-hander with a strong, durable pitcher’s build. He’s a junior at Franklin Pierce University after transferring this fall from Florida Tech. Graham’s fastball velocity fluxuates but scouts believe he has a future average fastball and just a lightly-used curve. He has a strong changeup that sinks down on the third-base corner against lefties and cuts away vs. righties. His current stuff indicates he’s most likely to be a reliever in pro ball, and his hard-nosed mentality makes him attractive to teams.” Graham is 6′ 3″, 220 lbs. Also: “Trevor” is the new market inefficiency.
14. Daniel Poncedeleon, RHP, U. of Houston. – Another quality college arm (a junior) for the Cubs. From MLB.com: “This righty has plenty of raw arm strength that helps his fastball stay in the 90-93 mph range, though he loses some of the zip on his heater when he’s in the set position. He throws a four-seamer that runs downhill and a two-seamer that has some run and occasional sink. His curve has 12-6 break, and scouts consider him a thrower with fair pitchability. He projects to develop well physically, and has flashy stuff but it can be inconsistent at times. His arm action and delivery mechanics may make him better suited for the bullpen at the next level.” He’s 322 on BA’s top 500.
15. Michael Wagner, RHP, U. of San Diego. – Hey, it’s Kris Bryant’s teammate, so I’d imagine the Cubs have seen him plenty. He’s also one the best pitchers on the staff, and the 192nd best prospect according to BA. From MLB.com: “Wagner was San Diego’s closer for most of his sophomore year, but while he moved into the rotation in 2013 and served as the Toreros’ ace, some see his future back in the bullpen as a setup type. He does have a three-pitch mix from a good pitching frame. His sinking fastball will generate ground-ball outs and his changeup is a legitimate weapon. His breaking ball isn’t as good, but has the chance to be a Major League average offering in the future. His pitchability allows his stuff to play up, as does his outstanding mound presence. Wagner’s size and overall package of stuff may allow him to start his pro career in a rotation, with the team taking him knowing that a life as a reliever is a pretty good fall-back option.” Another legit college pitching prospect. Wagner was great last year out of the bullpen, but the team tried him in the rotation this year with mixed results. Looks like he had some control issues, and had a down season because of it.
16. Cael Brockmeyer, C, Cal State – Bakersfield. – Another college catcher, and another junior. Brockmeyer has decent numbers, but that’s about all I’ve got right now. This is how you stock up with catchers, though. Take a bunch of them in the middle rounds.
17. Kelvin Freeman, 1B, North Carolina A&T. – A senior first baseman, Freeman was a third team All-American because he absolutely destroyed the ball this year. That’s what you have to do if you want to be a 17th round selection as a senior first baseman. He was the MEAC Player of the Year, and tied for 9th in NCAA in homers (16) as well. That number should give you more perspective on Kris Bryant’s insane season (31 homers).
18. Giuseppe Papaccio, SS, Seton Hall. – Another senior positional player, Papaccio was a third team All-American, and a First Team All-Big East member (the only unanimous selection). He hit .356 this year with decent pop and decent discipline.
19. Will Remillard, C, Coastal Carolina. – And another college junior backstop for the Cubs. I really do like this approach to adding catchers to the organization. They take longer to develop anyway, and by taking college players, you’ve already passed some of the attrition. Remillard didn’t hit a ton this year, which makes me wonder if he’s advanced as a catcher, if not a hitter. (UPDATE: Remillard is technically a redshirt sophomore.)
20. Zak Blair, 2B, Mercyhurst College. – When I hear a second baseman drafted (especially a 5th year senior), my mind instantly assumes that he must have hit a ton. Although his line – .329/.398/.410 – doesn’t jump out at you for a college line, this does: 18 walks, 9 strikeouts. That’s crazy. He also has some Cape Cod experience where he apparently played quite well.
21. Joshua McCauley, RHP, Shepherd College. – Back to the big collegiate righties thing. McCauley is a 6′ 4″ 220 lbs senior who made only five starts last year. I’m assuming there was some kind of injury issue.
22. Kevin Brown, LF, Bryant U. – A senior outfielder with another amazing BB/K ratio (47 walks to 20 strikeouts). He’s got speed, and his line is great: .367/.498/.552.
23. Tyler Ihrig, LHP, Marin Community College. – A JuCo pitcher for the Cubs, their first of the Draft. Looks like he’s been a reliever.
24. Tyler Alamo, C, Cypress High School (CA). – Taking players back-to-back with the same name is a thing now. Alamo is a quality high school catching prospect (ranked 348 on BA’s top 500), and MLB.com says this: “Alamo is a physical high school catcher who has room on his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame to get even stronger. He already generates good bat speed and has the potential to develop plus power. To unlock his power potential, however, Alamo will have to improve his approach and pitch-recognition skills. Defensively, Alamo has good tools, but is still is a work in progress as he learns to use his big body behind the plate. He has an above-average arm and good hands. Alamo is committed to Cal State Fullerton.” That’s a very big young man already, and you wonder if he’ll become too big to be mobile enough behind the plate. But I’m getting way ahead of myself. I suspect this might be a slight over slot situation. Alamo is committed to Cal St.-Fullerton.
25. Marcus Doi, LF, Mid-Pacific Institute (HI). – Another high schooler ranked in the BA top 500 (388), Doi is presumably good at baseball. He gets to live in Hawaii while he plays it, so that’s probably nice, too.
26. Carlos Pena, C, Southwest Miami High School. – Another high school catcher. Pena is on the older side, as he turns 19 next month.
27. Tyler Sciacca, CF, Villanova. – Matt Szczur was a CF from Nova a couple years ago. Sciacca, a senior, must have been his heir apparent. On the year, he had a .307/.405/.466 line. (UPDATE: at the next go-around, the Cubs asked that Sciacca be listed as a second baseman, which is where he’s been playing.)
28. Tanner Renner, RF, Southern Illinois-Carbondale. – That’s not who the pick sounded like to me on the phone (every detail sound different to me), but that’s what’s listed on the Draft tracker, so I’ll assume that’s the guy. He’s a sophomore who was a pinch runner and pinch hitter in all of four games this year. I wonder if this was a mistake. I heard “Brad Renner, RHP, Florida State College,” which is a real person at a real JuCo. I think there was an oopsie.
The conference call was suspended, and it’s been paused for almost 10 minutes now. I have to believe it’s because the Cubs’ pick is being corrected. Not sure who screwed up, but it sounded like the Cubs read their pick correctly, but the MLB Draft folks selected the wrong Renner.
The call just started back up, and the pick is still listed as Tanner Renner, not Brad Renner. So … we’ll see what happens. (UPDATE: The pick has been corrected to Brad Renner, a big pitcher from a Juco in Florida. Drama over.)
29. John Garcia, CF, Denbigh High School (VA). – No correction of the prior pick (that has been announced), and the Cubs didn’t take Brad Renner here, which means either that the pick will be corrected, or that Brad just got screwed (see above update – whew). As for John Garcia, he’s a high school outfielder, one of the few high schoolers the Cubs have taken today. He’s very young – doesn’t turn 18 until December.
30. Zak Hermans, RHP, Princeton. – The Cubs clearly picked a few first names that they liked, and then selected everyone with that first name. Tyler, Trevor, Zak … this one’s a senior pitcher at Princeton, who has put up excellent numbers and won a bunch of awards in the Ivy League.
31. Sean Johnson, RHP, Iowa Western Community College. – Another huge (6′ 6″) pitcher, Johnson is fairly young, being at a JuCo. He’s just one year out of high school, I believe, and doesn’t turn 19 until next month.
32. Keaton Leach, RHP, Glendale Community College. – Although he’s at a JuCo, Leach just turned 18 in April, so he’s more like a high school pick. He put up decent numbers in his first season there, and he’s got decent size already (6′ 2″, 180 lbs). This is the Cubs’ formula today for pitchers: big.
33. Chris Madera, CF, Northwest Florida State College. – It’s a JuCo binge for the Cubs, though they opt for the positional guy in Round 33. Madera is a smaller outfielder. Takes walks, doesn’t strike out … everything you’d expect.
34. Jake Thompson, RHP, Siuslaw High School (OR). – Not to be confused with a top pitching prospect in the Tigers’ organization of the same name. That’s all I got. I can tell you who he isn’t.
35. Ramsey Romano, SS, Valhalla High School (CA). – A tall high school shortstop who just turned 18. Looks like he was a quarterback in high school, too. He’s got a baseball scholarship to Michigan, which isn’t a big-time baseball school, but I wonder if he’s secretly hoping he’ll get a shot to play football, too.
36. Derek Campbell, SS, U.C.-Berkeley. – A light-hitting junior shortstop, Campbell didn’t get in many games this year, so his stats are largely meaningless. Not sure what the story is.
37. Jeremy Martinez, C, Mater Dei High School (CA). – Another over slot type catcher out of high school for the Cubs, Martinez was ranked 226 by BA and is a Team USA participant. Keith Law had him at 100, and MLB.com had him at 87. MLB.com says this: “People who watch Martinez hit might do a little bit of a double-take. The Southern California high school standout purposefully has patterned his approach, setup and swing after Albert Pujols. A veteran of Team USA, Martinez has shown an ability to catch some of the better prep arms in the country, grading out with solid catch and throw skills. He has an idea at the plate with some good power from the right side to go along with it. And though there’s not much projection and he’ll have to watch his conditioning, he should have enough to be an everyday backstop at the next level. In addition to his USA Baseball work in summers past, he has led his Mater Dei team to two straight National High School Invitational championships. That tournament is also held at USA Baseball’s complex, making Cary, North Carolina Martinez’ home away from home.” Based on where he was selected, it’s a fair bet that no one really thinks they can sign him, even by throwing big money his way. We’ll see if the Cubs have enough cash for their over slots.
38. Zack Brown, RHP, Seymour High School (IN). – Another over slot pitcher out of high school. BA had Brown ranked 385. The Cubs aren’t wasting any picks just yet.
39. Josh Greene, CF, Forrest High School (FL). – A young high school outfielder, Green doesn’t turn 18 until late August. Seems like the Cubs push college picks early to get the guys they wanted, and then saved some reaches in the high school ranks for the end, figuring they might as well take a shot.
40. Patrick “Bubby”Riley, LF, Delgado College (LA). – I’m pretty sure I heard a “Bubby” dropped on the call, and a scan of the ‘net confirms. The pick was worth it for “Bubby,” alone. Riley is a second year JuCo player, and he put up ridiculous numbers last year, as you’d expect anyone called “Bubby” to do. He walked more than he struck out, which sounds about right.
Whew. That’s it. Draft over. It’s a good crop for the Cubs, especially if they’re actually able to sign a majority of their over slots. We’ll have much more on the Draft in the coming days. Thanks for sticking it out. I’m going to go pass out now.