This year’s MLB Draft is still three months away, and the various amateur seasons are only barely underway. But, damn it, if there’s two things Cubs fans really like right now, it’s prospects and drafts. So we might as well at least see what folks in the industry see as the early possibilities for the Cubs, which gives us some names to follow over the course of the season, if nothing else.
The Cubs pick fourth this year, and the good news is that prevailing thought – which could change as the weeks go by – is that there are a solid five or six excellent prospects at the top of this draft, most of whom are interchangeable in terms of projected draft spot behind N.C. State lefty Carlos Rodon, who is a prohibitive favorite to go number one overall. In other words, the Cubs are extremely likely to get another top 100 type prospect out of this draft. (And, when it comes to picking so high, would you bet against this front office getting a stud? I would not.)
In three recent mock drafts, prognosticators have the Cubs taking three of those prospects with their fourth pick.
Matt Garrioch at Minor League Ball has the Cubs taking college righty Tyler Beede out of Vanderbilt. Although he was always expected to be a top-half-of-the-first-round type coming into the year, Beede’s stock has rocketed up thanks to (early) indications that he’s honed his control considerably. And, yes, as everyone is likely to point out: Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson worked with Beede when he was a freshman at Vanderbilt.
Dan Kirby at Through the Fence Baseball sees the Cubs opting for the likely top collegiate position player, N.C. State shortstop Trea Turner. We’ve mentioned Turner before because of his blazing, almost Billy Hamilton-esque speed. Turner doesn’t have much pop, but he’s a good hitter who plays excellent defense at short. That the Cubs already have a couple shortstop options in place doesn’t really impact the selection here. As we’ve said countless times, the Cubs will take the best available player, in their view, regardless of position. When you’re picking in the top five, you have to make sure you hit on an elite prospect. You deal with the fallout later.
Finally, MLB Draft Insider has the Cubs taking top high school hitter Alex Jackson, who is nominally a catcher, but whom most believe will eventually move to the outfield. It’s nice to know that, when picking four, the Cubs will definitionally have a shot at at least one of the best high school hitter, the best college hitter, the best high school pitcher, or the best college pitcher. Not that you rank guys in buckets like that for the purposes of making a pick; I’m just saying it’s nice to know.
Among the other big names to follow, outside of Rodon, who will not fall to the Cubs: East Carolina righty Jeff Hoffman, high school righty Tyler Kolek, and high school shortstop Jacob Gatewood. You can read the mock drafts for more on those guys, as well as some more names to follow. As the amateur seasons move forward into April and May, we’ll start to get a slightly better sense of the guys who are emerging as clear top five types.