With the 2016 MLB Draft in the rearview mirror and the college seasons wrapping up, it’s time to check back in on the Cubs top picks form the latest draft to see where things stand.
More specifically, let’s check in on who the Cubs have already signed from the top 10 rounds (the rounds that comprise the bonus pool), how much they’ve signed for, what it might take to get those that haven’t signed, and how much money the Cubs have left.
To start, though, let’s briefly list the Cubs’ eight picks from those first ten rounds and check in on their status (signed or not signed), including the amount if applicable. I have to give a special thanks to Baseball America, Jim Callis, and Jonathan Mayo on Twitter for collecting/reporting some of this information.
- 3rd Round: Tom Hatch – Unsigned; (Pool Amt: $573,900)
- 4th Round: Tyson Miller – Signed: $500,000 (Pool Amt $429,700)
- 5th Round: Bailey Clark – Unsigned; (Pool Amt: $321,800)
- 6th Round: Chad Hockin – Signed: $241,000 (Pool Amt: $241,000)
- 7th Round: Michael Cruz – Signed: $75,000 (Pool Amt: $186,000)
- 8th Round: Stephen Ridings – Signed: $120,000 (Pool Amt: $173,800)
- 9th Round: Duncan Robinson – Signed: $30,000 (Pool Amt: $162,300)
- 10 Round: Dakota Mekkes – Unsigned; (Pool Amt: $156,600)
So all together, the Cubs have signed five out of their eight top picks, including everyone from rounds 6 through 9. Given the actual bonus amounts (as opposed to the pool amounts listed in parenthesis, the Cubs look to have just over $225,000 extra to use on other players. And it turns out, they might need it.
Thomas Hatch, for example, a redshirt sophomore out of Oklahoma State University, could require a little extra to sign. He hasn’t yet agreed to terms with the Cubs, but negotiations are expected to heat up now that OSU’s season is officially over. Although Hatch is a college player, he still has a fair amount of negotiating leverage (or, rather, more than your typical college player), because he’s just a redshirt sophomore. In other words, he has plenty of flexibility to not sign and try again in another year or two. Although the pool amount for his slot is just under $600,000, you should expect him to get a bit more than that if he does sign with Chicago. If the Cubs fail to sign Hatch, they lose his slot value from their pool, but do get a compensatory third rounder next year.
Going out of order a bit, 10th rounder Dakota Mekkes (who’s been getting a lot of love) shares a similar story. Mekkes is also a redshirt sophomore, which means he, too, will be a tougher sign than most college players, given his ability to return to school, and the downright dominant season he just put together. That said, his is a particularly tough final bonus to ascertain, because before this dominant season, he missed nearly all of last year with an elbow injury. What we’re left with is a player whose performance and leverage scream “huge bonus,” but whose injury and allotted slot amount call for a lot less. Could be a tricky one.
That leaves us with six players – five signed (Tyson Miller, Chad Hockin, Michael Cruz, Stephen Ridings and Duncan Robinson) and one unsigned (Bailey Clark). Clark comes from round five and is a college right-handed pitcher (thought that’s the majority of the Cubs draft, it seems), and has yet to sign. We’ll discuss him more if and when he does, but until then, you can see more about him at Baseball America.
Starting with the Cubs first signee (in draft order), then, we land on Tyson Miller in the fourth round. Miller is but one of many tall, right-handed college pitchers taken by the Cubs in this draft, standing at 6’5″, 200 lbs. Most recently, he pitched at Cal Baptist University, and, according to Jim Callis on Twitter, became the highest pick ever from that school. Miller is described as an athletic pitcher, capable of reaching 96 MPH with his fastball, but routinely working around 93 MPH. He isn’t much of a strikeout artist, but he does boast an above average slider that misses bats and induces notably weak contact. He also features a change-up, but it reportedly needs some work. According to scouts at Baseball America, he could have a bit more velocity left in the tank, as he develops. It took a bit more than the allotted pool amount amount to attract Miller ($500,000), so the Cubs ate into their savings a bit here. $70,300 over.
Following Miller, we find Chad Hockin in the sixth round. Hockin is a 6’2″ 200 lbs pitcher and is supposed to have some seriously nasty stuff. He typically sits between 91-95 MPH, but has been known to extend that up to 98 MPH on occasion with a plus slider, as well. That said, Hockin hasn’t reached 100 IP in over three college seasons, so durability is not guaranteed, nor a guarantee to be a starter. All of which is probably why he signed right for slot value in sixth round ($241,000). No savings.
Following Hockin is catcher Michael Cruz – the first (and one of the few) non-pitcher the Cubs took in the draft. Cruz is something of a prototypical Cubs draftee. He’s a polished college bat who can hit from the left side of the plate with very good patience and power, but questions about his defensive home. Not unlike Kyle Schwarber – though, you know, not like Kyle Schwarber, either – Cruz signed with the Cubs for well under slot. $111,000 savings.
After Cruz, the Cubs went right back to the starting pitching pool with right-hander Stephen Ridings. Ridings is a tall (6’6″) righty who works in the low 90s (up to 93 MPH), but uses it effectively (87 Ks in 65.1 IP). Ridings signed for just $120,000 despite being selected in the eighth round where the bonus pool was a lot higher. This allowed the Cubs to score some additional savings, to potentially use elsewhere. $53,800 savings.
The last of the Cubs first ten round picks to sign is Dartmouth righty Duncan Robinson. Like Ridings, Robinson is a 6’6″ RHP that routinely works in the low 90s, but makes it work (73 Ks/7 BBs this spring). Also like Ridings, then, Robinson signed for a good amount under slot, saving the Cubs some bullets. The Cubs volume approach to pitching sometimes comes with safer, but less sexy picks. Duncan Robinson is the living example of that. $132,300 savings.
The Cubs still have three guys to sign from the first ten rounds, but they might not be able to get them all. If they do, they’ll definitely need to put all of their $226,800 in total savings to good use (plus, recall, the Cubs can go up to 5% over their allowed pool without losing a future draft pick). There’s a lot more to be said about each of these players, but it becomes all the more interesting, useful and accurate once they’re actually in the Cubs organization. For now, know that the Cubs are making progress and there’s still some time.
The signing deadline is July 15.