Two weeks from today, we will be deep in weeds of trying to break down what the Cubs did the night before in the first round of the draft.
Wow, a switch-handed high-school pitcher! I didn’t see that coming! And a college designated hitter? Wowee!
OK, that’s probably not what the Cubs are going to be doing with their first round picks – 27 and 30, overall – in a couple Mondays. But the possibilities are numerous.
That’s why it’s fun to track mock drafts, which incorporate not only general trends about where certain players are expected to go, but also rumors about which teams are looking at which players. Keith Law’s latest mock draft goes through pick 27 (technically, the Cubs’ pick there is the end of the first round, with the other “first round” picks thereafter being compensatory picks), and it’s full of rumors about teams and players. It’s a great read if you’ve got ESPN Insider.
For the Cubs, Law has the team going with their old standby, a college bat: New Mexico center fielder Luis Gonzalez (not that Luis Gonzalez). It doesn’t sound like Law is connecting the two by a specific rumor on this one, but finding a top tier college bat for the Cubs to pick in the first round is almost always a good bet.
This year’s draft, however, is generally limited in top, sure-thing, no-warts college bats. Gonzalez, for example, doesn’t show up in FanGraphs’ top 100 draft prospects, BA ranks him 87th, and MLB Pipeline has him 96th. So, then, if the Cubs took someone like Gonzalez early, you’d know it was probably a sign that they like him, specifically, rather than being a case of them simply going the safe route.
Baseball America also released a new mock draft, going through 30 picks, and once again giving the Cubs high school shortstop Nick Allen at pick 27. Allen’s is a name we’ve heard about several times now in connection with the Cubs, who reportedly love the elite defense. Allen is a smaller player, and it’s hard to dream on offensive upside with his frame, but it’s not as if this front office hasn’t found offense before in smaller packages. And if the defense is truly elite at shortstop, the bat doesn’t have to be *that* strong for the total value to be there. Further, Allen is said by BA to be a high baseball IQ, good instinct, good contact type player, which also sounds a lot like what the front office looks for.
As for pick 30, BA gives the Cubs a high school pitcher, which would be a rarity for the organization. Sam Carlson is a righty out of Minnesota, who is the 14th best ranked prospect in the draft, according to BA. He’s 15th to MLB Pipeline, and 16th to FanGraphs, so landing him at pick 30 would look awfully nice on paper (and would be pretty pricey for signing, given the leverage top high school draft picks have).
With two picks in the top 30, and a much larger draft bonus pool because of it, the Cubs will definitely have more flexibility to take aggressive swings in the first round if they want to go that route.