Another Monday, another Baseball America Mock Draft to study. This one, Version 4.0, has the Cubs selecting UCLA right handed starting pitcher James Kaprielian. I have a hard time seeing this as anything but a safe pick for the Cubs, and for that reason I tend to doubt this will be the Cubs’ ultimate choice.
Kaprielian has good control and a strong change up that is backed with a slider and a curve that could be professional grade, but he lacks velocity. At his best he is in the low 90s. That has worked for him in college because he has the control to make it work, but I’m not convinced he has a ceiling much higher than Kyle Hendricks as a prospect. Drafting a potential future Hendricks isn’t exactly a bad thing, but I think with the ninth pick, even in draft that is lacking in elite talent, the Cubs will aim a little higher. Kaprielian may have the highest floor of any collegiate starter in this draft not named Carson Fulmer, but his lack of a ceiling makes me see him more as a late-teens or early-twenties kind of pick.
Some higher ceiling (at least in my book) candidates still on the table in this mock draft scenario include high school hurler Kolby Allard, high school outfielder Trenton Clark (who I am really warming up to of late), and enigmatic collegiate outfielder Andrew Benintendi.
The latest Fangraphs mock draft sends Kaprielian to the Pirates at No. 19 and awards the Cubs a guy who reads like a clone of Albert Almora in Daz Cameron. Cameron is a good defensive right handed hitting center fielder with not great speed, projected average power, and a good feel for hitting. At one time he was receiving consideration at the top of the draft (Baseball America has him off the board to Houston at No. 5) and there is some noise about Cameron not sliding past the Twins at No. 6, but if he was available as low as the Cubs he may be hard to pass up.
One name to keep an eye on as we enter the final week of draft preparation: New York high school outfielder Garrett Whitley. High school players from the North East can be hard to read in their draft years due to their shorter and colder season, and it was not so long ago that another high school center fielder from this part of the world slid all the way down to No. 25 partly for that reason. That guy, Mike Trout, is now the best player in baseball. It would not be fair to put Whitley in that category, but he is said to be in consideration (as an under slot guy) as the first overall pick. The Cubs have shown no hesitation in drafting from the colder parts of the country; if the Cubs like the upside and the Diamondbacks take Dansby Swanson (like they should), then Whitley could turn out to be an option at No. 9.