We are a week away from the draft, and I still do not have a strong feeling about what the Cubs should do. Last year at this time I was lobbying for Bryant to all who would listen, but this season I remain on the fence. Unless Rodon or Aiken falls (unlikely) I suspect the Cubs are going to take a bat on an under slot deal, and while I generally think under slot signings are a bad move, in this particular case I have to admit it makes a lot of sense.
If the Cubs put me in the war room and asked my input, I would probably have a board ranked out something like this: Aiken, Rodon, Freeland, Jackson, Kolek, Gordon, Nola, Pentecost, Hoffman. When you scratch off the guys all but certain to be gone before the Cubs pick (Aiken and Rodon), I have to admit that what is left makes me think this is a great year to go under slot. Not one of that remaining group stands out for me. If any one of them will sign for less than the slot money at Number Four, he’s my guy.
On the subject of Gordon, a guy I was not nearly as high on as the rest of the baseball world, I have to say that I am warming up to him now that I have found video of his 2014 swing.. It looks much better than the noisy, loopy mess that was his 2013 swing, and my concern on Gordon has centered almost entirely around his bat. I still don’t see him emerging as an elite hitter, but he should be able to do enough damage from the left side of the plate to keep him in a lineup and let his two best tools – his glove and his arm – do the rest.
Still, I would feel better about drafting Gordon at Number Six or Seven than Number Four. That goes for a lot of the players in this draft, though, and that’s why I strongly suspect that the Cubs will go for the under slot deal and use the savings to stock up on high upside arms who slip into the second and third round.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Cubs are just being cheap if they do go for the under slot option, though. When all is said and done they will spend up right up to within a few dollars of their full draft allotment, plus the allowed 5% overage. I don’t see them risking penalties, not yet anyway, but they won’t be hoarding away cash in an effort to spend as little as possible on the draft. The point of going under slot in the first round is to spend that first round slot money in later rounds, not to keep it under the mattress. And given the sheer depth of raw, high ceiling high school pitchers in this draft, I think there will definitely be plenty of opportunities for teams that have the cash to spend it deeper in the draft.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa - The Cubs avoided the no-hitter, but lost anyway 4-0.
Tennessee - The Smokies allowed another late rally and slipped back under .500 in this 4-3 loss.
Daytona - Daytona scored first, but Palm Beach scored in bunches. The Cubs lost 8-1.
Kane County - Despite finding nine hits, the Cougars were shut out in this 5-0 loss.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] With two outs in the ninth, Arismendy Alcantara broke up the no hit bid of Memphis starter Tim Cooney by singling into left field.
- [Iowa] Tsuyoshi Wada allowed 8 hits and 2 walks in his 6 innings of work. That added up to all 4 runs the Cubs allowed. He also struck out 8.
- [Iowa] Javier Baez only struck out once.
- [Tennessee] John Andreoli walked, singled, and stole his 25th base.
- [Tennessee] Kris Bryant had a Kris Bryant sort of day. He finished 1 for 4 with a walk, a strikeout, and home run number 16.
- [Tennessee] After Joe Gardner allowed just one hit and 2 walks while striking out 2 in 6.1 innings on the mound, Lendy Castillo came in to face 5 batters. He sat down exactly zero of those batters. Eventually Jeff Lorick stopped the bleeding and finished off the game.
- [Daytona] Bijan Rademacher doubled and walked as he finished 1 for 2. Dan Vogelbach walked and scored.
- [Daytona] Much of the Daytona pitching in this game struggled, but not Zack Godley. He allowed a walk in another eventless inning.
- [Kane County] Ben Carhart finished 3 for 3 with a walk. Cael Brockmeyer (a catcher) finished 3 for 4.
- [Kane County] Tyler Skulina walked 3 and struck out one as he allowed 2 runs on 2 hits in his 5 innings of work.
- After posting an incredible start to the season, Tsuyoshi Wada has looked much more mortal of late. His ERA in April (4 starts) was 0.68 and he struck out 29 against 3 walks over 26.1 innings. He’ll finish up May with an ERA of 3.77 and 27 K against 10 BB in 31 innings for the month.