Last week, the 2014 MLB Draft changed dramatically at the top, with news that big-time college righty Jeff Hoffman would be undergoing Tommy John surgery, effectively taking him off of the board for the teams picking in the top five. The Chicago Cubs, of course, pick fourth, and Hoffman was definitely under consideration.
Fast-forward to a couple days after that, and UNLV righty Erick Fedde, who was already considered a top ten draft prospect, and who had been rising up draft boards throughout the Spring, started to be mentioned in connection with the Cubs. If you go back to May 2, Keith Law mentioned Fedde as one of his two possible choices for the Cubs at pick four (this was before the Hoffman TJS announcement), together with high school shortstop Nick Gordon. In other words, there were reasons to see Fedde as a legit arm at the top of the draft this year.
Well. Like I said: plans change.
Baseball America reports that Fedde, who was recently shut down with an elbow injury, will be undergoing Tommy John surgery. Like Hoffman, you can consider Fedde now off of the board for the Cubs in the first round. The top names remain high school pitchers Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek, college lefty Carlos Rodon, and high school position players Nick Gordon and Alex Jackson. There are some other interesting college arms – Aaron Nola, Kyle Freeland, Brandon Finnegan, and others – but none appear to be in quite the same tier as the guys expected to go at the top (or with Hoffman/Fedde, either, apparently).
Like Hoffman, Fedde is considered such a strong talent that it seems unlikely he’d slip all the way to the Cubs when they pick again at number 45. If he did, of course, he would probably receive strong consideration by the Cubs, because the upside is almost certainly worth the risk of post-surgery recovery. The only question with a guy like that at a pick like that is whether he’d be signable for something close to slot (which won’t be much more than $1 million). As I said with Hoffman, it’s hard to see a guy improving his draft stock too much after a year of merely rehabbing, so the decision not to sign could be the decision to risk the recovery period and a year of pitching in independent ball before being drafted again. That’s quite a risk when stacked against $1 million and a year of rehabbing with the best possible treatment.
Fedde will be a name to watch, then, on that first draft day, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up at 45.
As for what the Cubs do at 4 … it’s still wide open.