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2014 mlb draft featureThe latest draft bits, with the 2014 MLB Draft just two weeks away …

  • College catcher Max Pentecost is really starting to see some helium. It wasn’t a week ago that we heard a rumor via Keith Law that attached the Cubs to Pentecost at four in an under slot deal that would open up extra pool space to use later in the draft. Normally, it’s not the kind of move I’d expect to see from this front office (the top of the draft is gold, and you don’t go cheap up top just so you can try and get some overslot guys later), but, in a draft where they might be facing a steep fall-off and no clear pick at four after the top three, it’s a route that might be understandable. Not only does Jim Callis say that Pentecost is moving up boards and is probably now in the top ten, he says Theo Epstein was personally scouting Pentecost on Wednesday.
  • Kiley McDaniel adds that several front office execs scouted Pentecost two weeks ago. Further, in his latest ranking of draft prospects, McDaniel has Pentecost up at number six, behind Aiken/Rodon/Kolek/Gordon/Hoffman, but ahead of guys like Aaron Nola, Alex Jackson, Grant Holmes, Kyle Freeland, etc. In other words, to McDaniel, tabbing Pentecost at four wouldn’t really be a reach, regardless of the deal.
  • Sahadev Sharma says the Pentecost stuff does have legs, howeva …

  • That could include one of the three top arms, or possibly guys like Nick Gordon or Alex Jackson. It kind of sounds like things would have to fall perfectly (or imperfectly?) for the Cubs to go after Pentecost. Or some injuries, which is always possible. For what it’s worth, the Kennesaw State catcher is currently hitting .426/.479/.634 with 31 extra-base hits in 235 at bats, and 23 walks and 23 strikeouts. He was a 7th round pick out of high school, and has gobbled up a bunch of awards and honors since then. He’s expected to stick at catcher, by the way.
  • Jim Callis answers a bunch of draft-related questions, including which players he thinks will make a big league impact the soonest (Pentecost is in that group, as well as Nola, Aiken (a high schooler!), Michael Conforto, and some college relievers. Callis also ranks top high school position players Alex Jackson and Nick Gordon – both heavily under consideration for the Cubs at four – as if they were in the 2013 draft, and, unsurprisingly (and disappointingly) they fall somewhere in the 7/8/9 range. It’s just probably not a great year to be picking four.
  • Kendall Rogers has a mock draft up at Perfect Game that has Carlos Rodon slipping to the Cubs at four.
  • BP’s Nick Faleris wonders if Nola to the Cubs on an under slot deal would be best for both sides. If they can’t get one of the top three arms, I could see the argument here: the Cubs get the “safest” pitcher in the draft, who could contribute as soon as 2015, even if his ceiling isn’t a front of the rotation type. And then they save $750K to $1 million, which they could use later in the draft. Nola, for his part, still gets more than he would probably otherwise get from the team that takes him a few picks later. It’s similar to the Pentecost rumor/strategy, but probably with slightly less savings.
  • Apropos of that, here’s something very interesting from Keith Law:

  • For me, the best approach seems to be: if one of the top three arms (Rodon/Aiken/Kolek) falls to four, you take him. If not, you balance the cost and upside of Jackson or Gordon against the possible upside/lower cost (and the realistic ability to spend the savings later in the draft in an impactful way) of Pentecost. If you really like Pentecost, AND you think there can be a couple million saved there, AND you think you can use that couple million later in the draft for another (or two) actual, legit impact players, the you pull the trigger on that approach. But that kind of thing is really tough to know in advance of Draft Day.

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