First things first: make sure you are up to date with all the picks from yesterday in Brett’s Day Three article.
Second, Brett and I talked about the draft in a BNTV Live Stream last night. If you missed the live show, give it a watch or a listen now. We talk a little trade rumors, a lot of draft, a little International Free Agent season, and admire Brett’s cat. There are no infinity scarfs. Sorry. [Brett: Actually, the cat was laying on the infinity scarf!]
I should also mention that we pretty much announce the day and time of the next Live Stream towards the end of this one. And it should be an entertaining one. You might want to start making plans now …
As for the draft, Day Three was certainly interesting. I expected the Cubs to take a run at some high upside players, probably pitchers, and probably high school pitchers, in the first few rounds of the day, but they didn’t. Instead, they opened with back to back college infielders. Then they started in on the pitchers, sticking almost exclusively to the college ranks (including raiding Indiana University for pitching on back to back picks).
In fact, the Cubs did not draft a high schooler on Day Three until the 18th round, and they did not take a high school pitcher until the 26th. Clearly the Cubs’ aim on Day Three was to find players who had performed well at a high level, and at that they did very well.
Draftees With Faded Stock
The Cubs also picked up a handful of college players who had at some earlier point in their career looked like significant prospects, but whose stock had faded for various reasons. This is a very interesting strategy that, if they can sign these players, could pay off significantly.
When we evaluate prospects, be they amateur or professional, we tend to think purely in terms of talent. While talent is important, it is not the only criteria for success. A good player has to develop that talent, and that sort of development often requires the assistance of some very good coaches and trainers.
Some college programs have excellent coaching staffs (such as Vanderbilt, for example), but some, particularly the smaller colleges in more minor conferences, don’t have the same level of capability in that department. If they happen upon a great hitting coach in any given year, for example, odds are good that coach will be hired away by a bigger school with deeper pockets.
As a result, when I see players who looked like they could be very good in past years but who have not developed as expected, I start to wonder if the Cubs very talented, well staffed, and well funded player development operation could be able to tap into the talent that led to the players being more highly regarded in the past and develop them into quality prospects.
With that in mind, I really like the drafting of Kyle Twomey (he regressed a bit at USC, which has a good baseball program – but not as good as the Cubs) and Casey Bloomquest (Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo).
The Cubs took a number of players that they are unlikely to be able to sign barring the adoption of a super aggressive signing strategy that would cause them to forfeit their first round pick for the next two years (Brett and I spent some time talking about this during the Live Stream). There are a lot of reasons for drafting these players anyway, not the least of which is that they sometimes wind up signing, but I would not get optimistic just yet.
Al Jones, a very highly regarded switch hitting shortstop who is committed to Vanderbilt, is the headliner on the list of unlikely to sign players. His tools could have had him going off the board early in Day Two, but players who are committed to Vanderbilt are notoriously hard to sign (as the Cubs have experienced in the past) and so Jones fell to round 36. If the Cubs could sign him, it would be a significant coup as well as a major surprise.
If signing Vanderbilt commits is hard, signing current Vanderbilt players can be extremely hard. The Cubs took a draft eligible sophomore left handed pitcher from Vanderbilt anyway. At 6’5″ and with three pitches that project as average or better it is easy to see why the Cubs would be interested in John Kilichowski, but talking him into giving up both of his two remaining years of eligibility at Vanderbilt will be expensive. I would love to see the Cubs add another tall lefty to the system, but it is unlikely to come here.
Jared Padgett, another left handed starter, is committed to Mississippi State, and unless the Cubs are willing to commit every dime they saved on the first two days it sounds like they will have no shot at signing him. And even then it will be unlikely.
Another pitcher, a right hander this time, Fitz Stadler is committed to Arizona State. If the Cubs could sign him they would be getting another 6’8″ hurler with projectable stuff, but this is another guy who on talent alone should have gone early in Day Two. The Cubs will probably have to pay figures at least comparable to that to sign him.
Two players from early on in Day Three, third baseman Matt Rose and lefty Kyle Twomey, could also be tough to pry away. They both completed their junior year in college, and given that college seniors have very little leverage you might expect they would be easy to sign. And, compared to the other players I mentioned, they probably will be. But I think they may also wind up with a small piece of the Cubs savings from the first two days. That, in turn, will make it tougher to find the funds to sign any of the rest of these.
I like that the Cubs selected a good blend of quality, signable talent on Day Three as well as drafting some unlikely to sign very high ceiling types, but I would like it more if thought they’d be able to sign more than one of those high ceiling options. At most I think they may have saved about a million during Day One and Two, but that million may not last long.
The Cubs did pretty well in this draft, particularly where bats are concerned, but I still need some time to sort through the lists and to digest the past few days before I will be able to talk about how well they did in any sort of detail. In the near future, then, look for an article that takes a look at the draft as a whole and considers what impact this class may have on the Cubs’ organization.
In the meantime, I think we have every reason to be happy with this draft. The Cubs drafted a very Cubs draft, and under this front office that is a high compliment indeed.