Draft Day is here, redux!
With the first two rounds of the draft in the books, and many already scrambling to declare the draft’s winners and losers, you might think that today’s rounds – let alone tomorrow’s Rounds 11 through 40 – don’t mean too much. Well, you don’t have to look back any further than last year to know that’s not the case. After taking Kyle Schwarber and Jake Stinnett in the first two rounds last year, leaving some puzzling about how the Cubs would utilize the bonus pool funds they’d presumably just saved, the Cubs answered those questions immediately with a run on high-upside (expensive) high school arms on day two of the draft.
How might things play out for the Cubs on day two this time around?
Well, for one thing, it’s not all that clear that first and second rounders Ian Happ and Donnie Dewees are big under slot types, with each roughly projected to go in the range of where he was selected. The slot for the 9th pick is $3.351 million (for comparison, last year, the Cubs signed Schwarber for $3.125 million, which was well under slot for the 4th overall pick). The slot for the 47th pick is $1.292 million.
Between Schwarber and Stinnett, the Cubs saved about $1.75 million against their pool to be used on those high school arms. Happ might have fallen a few spots if the Cubs hadn’t taken him, so there might be a few hundred thousand to be saved there, but Dewees was a borderline first rounder (and is a redshirt sophomore, so returning to school is more realistic leverage for him). In sum, the Cubs might be able to save a little bit to use later in the draft – perhaps as soon as today – but I doubt it will be a huge amount.
Even before Happ’s and Dewees’s (presumed eventual) signings are announced, though, we could get clues today on just how the Cubs feel about their price tags (something that was likely vetted, at least within a ballpark, before the Cubs made their picks). If you see the Cubs grabbing some over slot types today, then you can rightly assume that the Cubs like their chances of having a little extra money to play with – otherwise, it would be too risky to take over slot/tough signs today. If you don’t sign a player in the first ten rounds, you lose the slot value associated with his pick from your bonus pool.
Of course, you could also see the Cubs take a couple signability guys in the first couple rounds today (3rd round pick has a $731,000 slot value, 4th round pick has a $503,100 slot value) to save a little bit and use it later on a high schooler that slips.
In any case, and setting aside the financial stuff for a moment, I do think we’ll see the Cubs grab a lot of pitching today. As in years past, this front office seems to have a trend of going for certainty on the positional side at the top, and then going for upside pitching in bulk.
I’ll keep a running update of the Cubs’ picks today here, with immediate reactions/links/scouting/etc. Away we go …
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You can watch the draft live here:
Picks and discussion below.
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3rd Round (82): Bryan Hudson, LHP, Illinois (HS). Hudson is a huge (6’7″) lefty from southern Illinois (just outside of St. Louis, actually), and he was the 71st ranked prospect according to MLB.com. BP had him at 84, and Kiley McDaniel had him at 79. In other words, this is just about where Hudson was expected to go, but the Cubs figured to have had lots of good looks at him, and it’s a lot of fun to dream on a huge lefty like that. Hudson is committed to Missouri, so we’ll see just how hard he is to sway.
From MLB.com’s scouting report: “Illinois’ best high school pitching prospect since the Astros made Mike Foltynewicz a first-round pick in 2010, Hudson is an extremely athletic and projectable left-hander whose stock continues to improve as the Draft approaches. He’s a safe bet to go in the top three rounds, with some talk that he could become a supplemental first-rounder.
Hudson’s best pitch is a 75-78 mph curveball with good depth that should add even more power once he adds strength to his skinny 6-foot-7 frame. He commands his breaking ball well, though he relies on it too often.
The Missouri recruit usually pitches at 86-90 mph and tops out around 92 with his fastball. With his arm action and projection, it won’t be a surprise if he reaches the mid-90s in the future. He shows the makings of a changeup, though he doesn’t trust it yet and doesn’t need it much against high school competition.”
Some video on Hudson:
4th Round (113): D.J. Wilson, OF, Ohio (HS). A Vanderbilt commit whom Jim Callis thinks is borderline signable in this range. Wilson is a smaller speed guy who likely won’t have much power, but has a decent hit tool and good outfield defense in center field. MLB.com had him as their 129th prospect, BA had him at 178, and each agrees that he’s the top high school positional prospect in Ohio.
Video on the lefty speedster:
And some praise for the makeup:
I love D.J. Wilson as a high-energy, well-rounded HS OF. Scouts/coaches love this guy's approach and drive.
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) June 9, 2015
5th Round (143): Ryan Kellogg, LHP, Arizona State. Although he was looking like a stud his freshman year, he’s taken steps back the past two years. Jim Callis mentioned on the broadcast that he was better in the Cape Cod league last year, which could be what swayed the Cubs. He was ranked 171 to MLB.com, 150 to Kiley McDaniel, and 131 to BA. He’s another tall lefty – 6’5″ – but he lacks big velocity or stuff. Instead, he’s a guy who can work with four pitches. That means he can stay a starter, which is a good thing to find in an experience college lefty arm in the fifth round.
This looks to be right about where Kellogg was expected to be selected.
As a junior this year at ASU, Kellogg posted a 3.60 ERA over 16 starts, striking out 92 in 115 innings, walking 23.
6th Round (173): David Berg, RHP, UCLA. A submarine righty reliever who has been dominant, Berg was getting a ton of love from Jonathan Mayo on the broadcast. Berg set a Pac-10 record for appearances. He’s a senior, so this is likely to be an under slot situation (slot here is $281,900, and seniors often sign for $10,000 or so, depending on how desirable they are), but it sounds like there’s big league relief potential. For the Bruins, Berg made 43 appearances this year (66.2 IP), striking out 65 and walking 8.
Would be interesting to see if the Cubs let him fly up the system just to see what he can do as a reliever.
The Rangers took Berg in the 17th round last year but he did not sign. Wonder if he’ll require a little more than a typical senior sign to get a deal done.
7th Round (203): Craig Brooks, RHP, Catawba College. A senior pitcher and shortstop, Brooks was announced as a pitcher, so you can figure that’s how the Cubs expect to utilize him. Although his hitting stats this year are decent, his pitching numbers are overwhelming: 1.45 ERA over 99.0 innings, 158(!) strikeouts and 34 walks. He’s a senior sign at this spot ($211,300 for his slot here), so the Cubs may have picked up a little flexibility in the last two spots. Depending on how they do with Happ and Dewees, that could help them lock down someone like Wilson.
8th Round (233): Preston Morrison, RHP, TCU. So many TCU starters went in this draft. Morrison has fringy to average stuff, according to Jim Callis, but he’s been steady and has a variety of usable pitches. Minor League Ball ranked Morrison as the 333rd prospect in the draft.
As a senior, you can expect that Morrison will save the Cubs some slot money ($174,200 here), but he’s had a great career at TCU. He was the Big-12 pitcher of the year in 2014, and then put up a 2.55 ERA over 113.0 innings this year (86 K, 21 BB).
9th Round (263): Tyler Peitzmeier, LHP, Cal St. Fullerton. Another senior sign for the Cubs ($162,800 here), Peitzmeier was the closer for Cal St. Fullerton this year, making 30 appearances (57.1 innings), posting a 2.20 ERA with 58 Ks and 11 BBs.
By my math, the Cubs may have saved about $750,000 against their pool in the last four picks. If they save anything on Happ and don’t have to go over slot on Dewees, could see them already up to about $1 million. Some of that might go to Turner and Wilson in rounds three and four, but there might be some for some reaches tomorrow.
10th Round (293): Vimael Machin, SS, VCU. Machin looks like another senior sign to close out the day ($152,000 slot here), and he hit .339/.401/.441 this past year. He was ranked 337 by BA, and is one of the better seniors, it seems.
And that wraps up Day Two of the draft. We’ll have more on today’s picks later, and, of course, more live coverage tomorrow when the draft concludes with rounds 11 through 30.