2014 mlb draftThe 2014 MLB Draft is just three weeks away …

  • Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo took on the Cubs’ fourth overall pick in light of the presumptive top three in Carlos Rodon, Brady Aiken, and Tyler Kolek. Assuming those three go first, whom do the Cubs take at four? Well, Callis says the Cubs should go with high school catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson, who’s got the best overall bat in the draft. From Callis’ perspective, the drop-off at pitcher after the top three is sufficiently steep that the Cubs shouldn’t just grab a pitcher to grab a pitcher. Something I like in Callis’ analysis? Even if Jackson can’t stay at catcher, Callis believes his bat profiles well enough to be worth a top four pick as an outfielder.
  • For his part, Mayo agrees that the Cubs should go with a position player if those three pitchers are gone, but Mayo says it should be high school shortstop Nick Gordon. Mayo likes that Gordon is a sure-fire long-term defensive shortstop, and his bat has taken a big step forward this year.
  • And, for those worried that Gordon doesn’t offer any upside, note that Chris Crawford says if he had to choose who he liked better, Gordon now or Francisco Lindor as of the 2011 draft, he’d choose Gordon. We know how well things turned out for Lindor, so that’s some serious praise.
  • Baseball America released its top 100 draft prospects list, and it’s a very interesting take at the top, with both Jeff Hoffman and Erick Fedde staying in the top 10, despite their Tommy John surgeries. The top three remain the top three, and they are followed by Jackson, Evansville lefty Kyle Freeland, Hoffman, Gordon, Fedde, TCU lefty Brandon Finnegan, and LSU righty Aaron Nola.
  • Among other things, BA’s John Manuel notes that the extreme volume of potential first round arms in this draft has made it difficult for teams to effectively scout them all. It makes you wonder if a team that prioritizes the draft, in terms of resources in the run-up to the draft, could be in a position to get a first round talent in the second and/or third rounds. If the Cubs do end up going with a position player at the top of the draft, I really like their chances to wind up with a very good pitcher in the second and/or third rounds.
  • For me, by the way: if the Cubs believe there’s at least a 50/50 shot that Jackson can stay at catcher long-term, he’s the guy I’d want them to pick. Catcher is as much of an organizational need as pitching (by which I mean, it’s not like the Cubs absolutely have to get a pitcher in the first round), and, when you factor in the lower risk and weaker pitching options (behind the top three, I mean), Jackson’s the guy. He’s the top bat in the draft, even if it’s a weaker draft for bats.
  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

    I like BA having Kyle Freeland at number 5. Makes me sound less crazy over the next month when I repeatedly bang the drum for the Cubs to take him at 4.

    • http://www.chicagocubsbleachertickets.com Cub Fan Dan

      I’m glad to see I’m not alone. Ive had this obsessive draft man crush on him the past 2 weeks or so.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        Mine just started a couple days ago, but I really like him. The delivery is a little violent for my liking, but he repeats it very well. Obviously the control is great with only 7 walks, still unsure about the command though. I’d rather take a guy like that than a guy with control and command issues though. 90-93 and touching 96 from a left-side lower arm slot with a plus slider and already average to above average change?? Yes please. He has all the makings of a guy who can rise quickly.

      • NorthSideIrish

        Manuel agrees with you two…in his chat yesterday he said he thinks Freeland should be in the conversation at 1.1.

        Mike (Evansville): Kyle Freeland keeps climbing higher and higher. Any chance at him going 1st overall?

        John Manuel: I have asked that very question myself and been told he is not in the mix for that selection. I humbly believe that he should be; I suppose there’s actually nothing humble about saying that. But the stuff is outstanding, as is the performance. But I think his track record isn’t long enough to get him into that mix. I do think we’re a bit higher on him than the entire industry is, but I am OK with that.

  • NorthSideIrish

    I’d rather have Beede’s upside than any of the position players, but I’d choose Gordon over Jackson. I don’t see Jackson sticking at catcher and his bat isn’t quite as special in the OF, but this FO does like power bats. I think Gordon could struggle with the bat, but up the middle athletes are a good commodity to have if it turns out that he can hit.

    FWIW, Arguello reported that based on what his sources have told him, he strongly believes Jackson would be a bad fit for the Cubs and he’d be surprised if they took him. But John didn’t expand on that any further.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sahadev has a draft piece coming later today … you’ll want to check it out.

      • NorthSideIrish

        You were wrong Brett. I did not want to read that article.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Well, I mean, yeah. But, well, it’s informative.

    • Javier Bryant

      Jackson seems like the logical choice, but after seeing what John said makes me doubt they take him. I still think they go with Gordon. Either way, it’s either a good sign with our loaded farm system or just a drop off after the top 3 in the draft that whoever they do select will more than likely not be one of the top 5 prospects

      • jp3

        Yeah so I’m curious if Gordon or Jackson is the pick, where would they fall in our top 10 prospects?

        • NorthSideIrish

          Probably around #6-7…depending on Edwards injury and promotions. Could make a case for #5 based on ceiling, but I would rate Alcantara who is already at AAA over a prep player at Boise…just a personal preference.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I’d have Jackson in the same tier as Vogelbach, probably somewhere between 7 and 12 (and a little higher than Vogelbach since he doesn’t suffer from the same defensive issues).

          Based on what I’ve seen so far, Gordon would be in the next tier back from that, but almost certainly still in the top 20.

          • Edwin

            At what point do we start to worry more about Vogelbach? Through 144 PA, he’s sitting at a wRC+ of just 90. In 210 total PA at the AA level in his career, he has just 4 HR.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Vogelbach hasn’t reached Double A yet; he is still in High A.

              And I’m not worried yet. He’s had some trouble this year, but there aren’t any large red flags jumping out at me despite the lower than expected current production.

              • Eternal Pessimist

                He needs to put all that body fat back on???

              • jp3

                He started off terrible but I think he’s come back around a bit. Not very high on Jackson or Gordon eh fellas? I’m kind of with you though, I just remember the last couple years whomever we picked high in the draft kind of got thrown in our top 3 automatically but I guess that’s just a product of our system getting better.

                • Edwin

                  He hasn’t really. Since 4/30 when he went 4/4, he has 42 PA with just 1 extra base hit, a double on 5/10.

  • Chad

    You don’t select for need Brett! Best player available, and I would argue that a TOR arm is as much of a need as catcher, but yeah the cubs need a catcher. I keep going back and forth on this draft. My hope is Aiken or Rodon falls to the cubs, but in the likelihood it does not I hope for Beede then Jackson then Gordon, then other SP

    • jrayn

      I think his point was that Jackson is a top 4 or 5 talent and that his position meeting an org need is a bonus.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m not selecting for need – I was pointing out that “pitcher” is not the Cubs’ only “need.”

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I amplified my comment there in the post to make clear that’s not what I was saying.

        • Chad

          I apologize if my sarcasm did not come through on that. Brett is always the second one (after Luke) to say don’t draft for need.

          I agree that if Jackson can stick at catcher he would be a great pick at #4, I just have not seen anyone say they think he can.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    If Jackson has impact bat potential, I don’t want him to stay at catcher. Leaving a very good hitter in a highly injury prone position that is brutal on the legs just makes no sense to me.

    If he doesn’t have impact bat potential then staying at catcher is fine, but he no longer is attractive as a No 4 pick. Basically, if I’m picking Jackson at four I’m picking the bat on the assumption it goes to the outfield.

    And even with the bat, I’m not sure he’s a safer, higher impact potential pick than Beede or Freeland.

    Gordon… I don’t get it. You don’t draft great defense at the top of the first if the bat isn’t there to back it up, and Gordon’s bat seems to be largely projection at this point. Maybe I haven’t seen recent enough video, but I don’t see him as a Top 10 candidate, let alone a Top 3 guy, at all.

    He honestly looks to me like a slower version of Turner, albeit with better defense. I’d rather have the safer guy with a similar ceiling in Turner between the two.

    But there are a lot of players I would take before either of those two.

    I’ll take another look tonight for more recent tape on Gordon, but what I’ve seen so far leaves me a little puzzled as to why he has risen so fast and so high.

    • Norm

      Gordon wouldn’t be rated as one of the top two position players in the draft if the pundits thought he was defense only.

      If the Cubs take Gordon at 4, they also don’t believe he’s defense only. He’d simply be BPA.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I agree with all of this.

        I’m just not sure what they are seeing that I’m not.

      • Orval Overall

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        • Orval Overall

          Well that looked a lot different before I hit “submit.”

      • Funn Dave

        It’s just that they’re basing his offensive potential on this current season, which seems anomalous compared to his previous years. It’s possible that he’s made some changes that will continue to work for him, but it’s also possible that he’s just having a really good year and will revert to form in the future.

    • Smitty

      Maybe the FO is sending out these smoke screens to try and convince one of the three teams ahead of us to go for Gordon so that 3rd pitcher will drop to us… at least that is what I am hoping happens because I agree with you on Gordon and Jackson.

      • Chad

        I am still hopeful that someone in the top 3 will reach for Gordon so they can spend more in later rounds. I just really hope that it is not the cubs.

    • NorthSideIrish

      I think part of it is that Gordon is one of the few prospects at the top who has seen his stock rise by showing more ability with the bat this season. Between injuries and performances, prospects like Hoffman, Feede, Turner, and Gatewood have all dropped which allowed Gordon to move up in the rankings.

    • Chad

      I have read that his bat isn’t as elite to do what you are saying Brett, and he likely isn’t a good enough catcher to have an above average, yet not elite bat worth it at 4. I have never thought he’d be a good pick for the cubs, but I just think a pitcher is the way to go this year. However, if he can have an above average bat (not elite) and be an above average defensive catcher, then sign me up for that pick at #4, but he has to have both. If the bat is elite, which I don’t believe it is, then get him at 4 and put him in the OF, but I don’t see it.

  • Orval Overall

    So if you take Jackson, is the hope that after 3-4 years in the minors, he turns into the next Matt Holliday? I’d take that.

  • JL82

    I honestly think 1 of the top 3 teams won’t take a pitcher due to the injury factor. Jackson will go to the White Sox.

  • ssckelley

    Finally Alex Jackson at #4 is starting to get traction. I have been pining for this guy since last fall. Power is always a commodity and this guy has a lot of it. But if Kolek and Aiken go 1 and 2 I think it is possible the Sox take Jackson leaving the Cubs able to select Rodon.