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2013 mlb draftAfter three exciting, exhausting, and occasionally confusing days, the 2013 draft is in the books. Now comes the signing process, the assignment of new players to their various teams, the strategy critiques, the re-evaluation of the organizations, the re-ranking of the top prospect lists, and all those other aspects of minor league tracking and over-analysis from which so many derive such enjoyment. This is a great time of year to be a baseball fan, and particular a fan of the minors.

And that draft analysis begins today, in a small way. Until players have signed it will be tough to get an accurate sense of just how well the Cubs did this year, but this year, even with signing questions factored in, I think the only question be whether the Cubs did well or very well. This is a strong draft.

After a quick assessment of the four currently active teams we will take an early, high level look at the Cubs draft and start to figure out what it means for the farm system and the organization as a whole.

Iowa Cubs : 27-34

The worst team in the Cubs organization is in second place and just five games out of first. The Pacific Coast League does not declare first half division winners as a means of locking up postseason slots, so the Cubs have until the beginning of September to close that gap.

They should be getting some reinforcements. Junior Lake has finally arrived in Iowa after a long rehab stint in Arizona, and eventually the Cubs should promote Double A veterans such as Matt Szczur and Jae-Hoon Ha (currently injured) and Justin Bour (also injured) to Iowa. The large class of college pitchers in this draft might allow some bullpen pitchers to be promoted as well. Zach Rosscup, Tony Zych, Trey McNutt, and Frank Batista would all be candidates for relocation to a more northern bullpen.

Tennessee Smokies : 31-30

The Smokies are still over .500 and in second place, but they have fallen 7.5 games back of first. If Tennessee is going to enjoy postseason baseball, they’ll do it with a second half title.

In the meantime, the Smokies are running an online auction with proceeds going to support the Oklahoma City Red Cross. There are signed items from Cub greats like Fergie Jenkins on that list, as well as Message Board favorites like Tony Campana. Whether you are a serious collector, a casual  fan, or shopping for a loved one I think you’ll find something on that list worth bidding on.

That list does have some rare and unusual items. This might be your only chance to bid on a game used bat signed by reliever Frank Batista. I have to wonder, though, who used that bat? According to Baseball Reference, Batista does not have an At Bat this season. Or in any other season for that matter.

Daytona Cubs : 29-28

The Cubs are in a tough division, but despite that they are still lurking just four games back of the division leader. They are not out of contention for the first half title yet, but it would take some unlikely events to close that gap at this point in the season.

Kane County Cougars : 28-31

Believe it or not, the Cougars are not mathematically eliminated either. Sitting in sixth place and 8.5 games behind the leader, though, it is all but impossible that they can come back in the first half. The Cougars have more talent than their record indicates, though, and there is no reason they can’t rule this division in the second half.

The 2013 Draft – An Early Look

Mike Safford, the voice of the Boise Hawks, has compiled the available stats for nearly every player the Cubs took in the draft this weekend. After spending the weekend chasing down stats for a lot of these players myself, I can appreciate how titanic an effort this was.

The Cubs took 19 pitchers this weekend, three of them southpaws. That is an indicator just how rare left handed pitchers are. Rob Zastrynzy will become the best left handed starter in the organization as soon as he signs a contract. Tyler Ihrig and Sam Wilson both have some potential, but it will take some patience to see what they develop into.

That means the Cubs took 16 right handed pitchers, and many of them were from college. And many of them were tall. Very tall. Scott Frazier and Sean Johnson both stand in at 6’7″. Brad Renner is 6’6″, Tyler Skulina is 6’5″, and Daniel Poncedeleon and Trevor Clifton headline a cluster of hurlers who are 6’4″. Taller pitchers generally throw pitches at a steeper downhill angle and, as a result, are often tougher for hitters to pick up. By drafting a basketball team worth of tall, hard throwing right handers the Cubs likely stacked the deck in their favor a bit. Not all will sign, but even so the Cubs appear to have done a nice job injecting another wave of pitching talent into the system.

The Cubs also loaded up behind the plate. Six catchers were drafted, including some fairly high ceiling backstops like Jeremy Martinez, Tyler Alamo, and Cael Brockmeyer. It is unlikely that all of the Cubs catcher draftees will sign, but the Cubs knew that when they drafted them. We do not know just yet how large an infusion of catching talent the system is going to receive, but for the second year in a row the Cubs made an effort to shore one of the organization’s largest weaknesses.

The Cubs attacked the system’s other big weakness, outfielders, as well. With the big names like Jorge Soler and Albert Almora taking the headlines it can hard to remember that the Cubs are actually a little thin in this area, particular in the corners. After Soler, the next best corner outfield prospect in the system might just be Josh Vitters, currently playing third base. Reggie Golden and Bijan Rademacher have potential, but both are fairly far away. The Cubs needed some bigger bats to play left and right, and in this draft they may have found a few.

Kevin Brown, a left handed hitter from Bryant College, is one intriguing possibility. Third round pick Jacob Hannemann is another strong candidate (although he might be able to stay in center). And of course the Cubs snagged a fair assortment of speed-first outfield types as well, but they were already reasonably deep in that department. What the farm system needed was an infusion of big bats.

And in first round pick Kris Bryant, the Cubs drafted one of the biggest. Whether he plays third base or outfield is almost beside the point. Bryant’s value is primarily his bat. He is no liability on defense, far from it, but this guy put on a nearly unprecedented power showcase all season in college. Bryant was the best hitter in this draft and instantly joins the very top tier of Cubs prospects.

Including Bryant the Cubs drafted seven infielders (counting Tyler Sciacca who was announced as a CF and then re-listed as a 2B). Bryant easily outshines them all. I suspect we will see many of the other infielders playing in Boise and Arizona soon, but I don’t see any Top 40 list candidates among them.

Finally, I did notice three general trends from the Cubs that I think will end up defining this draft (other than the tendency to draft really tall pitchers, that is).

First, the Cubs stuck to the college ranks. An overwhelming majority of the Cubs players came from college, and most of those were drafted out of four year colleges. The Cubs are looking for more polished talent that could help out in the majors sooner rather than later. To me, that suggests that the Cubs can see the competitive window in the major leagues opening as soon as next season and they are trying to prime the farm system with the reinforcements they will need to build the Cubs into a consistent juggernaut. The lower levels of the system are already stacked with talent, but the middle ranks were somewhat lacking (particularly at pitcher). With the 2013 draft the Cubs tried to correct that.

Second, the Cubs did not forfeit any picks. While other teams were drafting the son of so-and-so and the brother of some-other-guy, the Cubs stuck to their rankings and drafted the players they wanted to draft. There were no wasted picks this year.

Third, it seemed to me that the Cubs were drafting from cold weather states more frequently than in years past. I know the two big baseball hotbeds (Florida and California) were both considered to be in down years talent wise, but I don’t think that completely explains it. The Cubs barely touched the other Southern states (such as Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi) at all. Instead, the Cubs were drafting from Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Michigan, New York, and New Jersey.

There is a school of thought that says that players from these cold-winter states are often undervalued in the draft because they have shorter seasons, less time to practice outdoors, and are less frequently seen by scouts. Mike Trout is often cited as an example of a player who was badly undervalued in the draft because he hailed from the chilly North East. If this theory is true (and I personally think it is), then the Cubs might have focused on those states in an effort to find talent other teams would miss. Cold-state scouting could, in other words, become one of those inefficiencies that good front offices look to exploit. That does not mean they found another Trout in this draft, but it does mean they may have found a player or two who should have been drafted much higher than they were had their true potential been realized.

We will have plenty more to say about the draft and this draft class in the coming weeks, but now it is time to look a bit further down the calendar.  Now that the draft is over, the trade season can officially get underway. Rumor season has arrived, and just like the draft, I think it will prove to be both exhausting and a lot of fun.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    I checked on last years Cub draft – 22 pitchers selected, 18 RHP – 4 LHP & 3 signed. Now if that does not show a trend by this FO scouting system then what does ?

    • hansman1982

      What is the MLB ratio of RHP to LHP?

      • wvcubsfan

        No clue, but I would guess 6 or 7 to 1. 6.67 to 1 final answer

        • hansman1982

          The answer is 3:1 in favor of RHP in last year’s draft.

          The Cubs came in at 18% of their pitching draftees as LHP (although they were 1 away from having 22%) or very much in line with what the rest of the league drafted.

          Goddamn facts.

          • wvcubsfan

            I thought you were talking about on MLB rosters.

            • hansman1982

              Damnit, look at me trying to shift the debate…

            • hansman1982

              It was easier to find LHP/RHP listings in the draft…

              • hansman1982

                Well then, that was easier than I thought:

                Throwing Count Percentage
                R 1038 78.2%
                L 289 21.8%

                These are just the pitchers who were active last year. I have no clue, yet, how successful they were.

  • nkniacc13

    You could also say that the 1st rd pick will be a position player.

  • Mark S

    The kid Tom Milone from Masuk High School in Connecticut who was drafted by the Rays will become a stud. Kid has blazing fast speed and can certainly stick to center field. He shows at least average power and is extremely discipline at the plate with outstanding hands. Papers in CT have been raving about him.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Hansman1982 – so you want to compare a kid like Blair from freakin Mercyhurst ???? To pitchers from schools in NCAA conferences like the ACC, MVC, and Sun. Please tell me you know better than that.

    • wvcubsfan

      Well you’re the one comparing a second baseman with pitchers. Both seem to be apples to oranges to me.

    • hansman1982

      Oh, I’m saying I have no clue who these kids are, if you can answer those questions, then I might start to listen to what you have to say.

      Otherwise, it just sounds like a more bitching about the FO just to bitch.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com frank hutch

    Maples was horrible for kane co again today

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    I’d put my money on the Cards FO over the years versus anybody when it comes to drafting pitchers. Do the names Wacha or Miller ring a bell for you hansman1982 ?

    • wvcubsfan

      Both right handed and both first round draft picks. What exactly is your point?

    • hansman1982

      Oh, I know they are excellent at finding, drafting, developing talent. I am not debating that; however, Wacha and Miller were 1st round draft choices.

    • hansman1982

      Also, please use the reply button that is found on the date line to the far right. Makes conversations much easier to follow.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Wvcubsfan, who did the Cards pick this year with their first two picks ? I believe they were both college lefties, to go along with the others I’ve previously mentioned, Brookshire and Radziewski.

    • wvcubsfan

      And the Cubs drafted a college lefty and a power hitting 3B. Again what is your point? That the Cards have had more success in the draft and player development in the past? That they’ve hit on some lottery ticket type draft picks? I’ll go ahead and concede both of those. Please tell me what it has to do with choosing a left handed pitcher over a right handed pitcher in rounds 3-40 of this years draft.

      • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

        BALANCE

        • wvcubsfan

          Thought the point was supposed to be more talented not more balanced. Remember how everyone crucified Lou and Hendry for needing to be more left handed in the line up? Why is minor league or drafted pitchers any more or less laughable?

        • caryatid62

          If “balance” is the most important part of your argument, the MLB success of Wacha and Miller really doesn’t have anything to do with what hand they throw with. The fact that they draft left handed players is a separate point from the fact that they draft players who go on to successful MLB careers (or at least what looks to be successful MLB careers).

          • wvcubsfan

            Think he gave up that argument.

            • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

              I thought you folks would understand my argument when I posted on the 3 guys I suggested they could have taken. All talented but also smaller in stature and possibly not fitting a mold the FO and scouts seem to have in their minds of what a pitcher should look like. Yes talent matters but I illustrated that with their stats. Then some balance should come into play with the lefties being considered on a higher percentage than they have these last two years. Maybe 33 or 40 percent considering how low our numbers of lefties are throughout as I documented.

              • caryatid62

                It would be ridiculous to take a player your scouts think is a worse prospect just because of the hand he throws with, simply for the sake of some numerical balance in the system.

                If you think those players you listed were better prospects, then you simply disagree with the Cubs’ scouts’ assessments of the players they did draft. That’s fine, everyone has an opinion. I trust the professionals in this case, but you don’t have to.

                If your belief is that a team should draft players they think are worse just because they will help balance out some previously determined appropriate ratio of lefties to righties, well that’s a ridiculous and indefensible position, and one I’m glad the Cubs don’t take.

                • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

                  Well talent should always be the # 1 criteria. However, I’m speculating that the Cubs scouts are putting more of a premium of body type than they should and it results in a grading system which is proving to be biased against smaller statured left handlers. Period.

                  • DocShock

                    Interesting as seeing the current Cards pitching roster has 8 players 6’2″ or taller and 4 below that mark. Of the 4 below 6’2″ one was acquired va trade or FA and is LH, the rest are all RH homegrown.

                    The team has 3 LH pitches on team and the other two are over 6’2″. One of the 8 above 6’2″ was acquired via trade so we can throw him out as well. So based on what I see the Cards players to make the MLB roster are big body types, even the LH, which suggests that your point is moot.

                    The Cards power bullpen arms are mostly RH who are big guys. So maybe what the Cubs did is not so crazy after all.

              • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                They took a guy under 6 foot early? Don’t understand your argument.

          • hansman1982

            Their MLB staff is 15-6 RHP-LHP this year or, very much in line with what one would expect.

            • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

              So you think Raley and Rusin are the Cubs idea of talented balance ?

              • AB

                BALANCE HANS BALANCE!!!!!

              • hansman1982

                Did I say that?

            • Kevin B

              Don’t think you get it? The only person who thinks you need “balance” on lefty v. righty pitchers is you.

              • Tom A.

                And me too. It always has been better to have left-handed pitching on the team, if for nothing else to change it up on batters over a 3 or 4 game series. These MLB hitters are darn good and a team always has to try to change things on them or confuse them or at least make it harder for them.

    • Rich H

      Actually the Cards 2nd first round pick was a HS LH pitcher named Kaminsky. Actually they went totally away from their regular methodical approach and went with quite a few high school arms. But you are right they took a number of LH’ers. I asked the guy I was talking with during the draft and he said it was but that the Cards actually have lost a few of their LH power arms to TJ surgery and then you also have to thrown in Garcia’s health.

  • willis

    I’d say Junior Lake is doing just fine since his return…

  • X the Cubs fan

    I found this online and thought maybe this was a great pick. This is the guy from baseball America. I know prospect/player comps are dumb but they Are exciting and interesting.

    Conor Glassey @conorglassey

    #Cubs 3rd rdr BYU CF Jacob Hannemann is one of my favorite sleepers in this year’s draft. Jacoby Ellsbury comps, which Theo knows all about.
    12:09 PM – 7 Jun 2013

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