The draft is quickly approaching.
And while there are a countless other distractions going on in both the Cubs world and the real world, we’ll stay focused on the draft with some more notes in advance of the 2017 MLB Draft, which kicks off on Monday …
- As a matter of fact, earlier today I wrote up your first (of two) draft primers for Monday night. This post covers the schedule, the broadcast information, the order of the picks, etc. Basically, it’s everything you need to know about the Draft if you already know everything about the draft. Later on, I’ll have another primer for you that covers some more specific rules, penalties, bonus pools, and other items of that nature. So keep an eye out.
- When the Cubs began THE rebuild back in 2012(ish), there was a clear and open preference to build around young position players. From the new front office’s first first-round pick (Albert Almora) to their most recent (Ian Happ), that’s been a highly successful approach, given that every single one of the group is on the big league roster. And, as such, other teams are likely to follow suit, or so says amateur scouting director Matt Dorey.
- While he admits that the Cubs have not simply figured things out, he does suggest that teams may start shifting their top of the draft money away from “riskier” high-ceiling picks to the somewhat safer bets (Like Almora, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, or Ian Happ types).
- But even after all of that is said … maybe betting on safer picks isn’t really the Cubs’ thing. Instead, maybe the Cubs’ thing is doing what others aren’t at any given time. According to Jason McLeod, the Cubs primary goal is simply to avoid “groupthink.” While the team has certainly maintained a unified drafting philosophy when making their picks in recent years, they’re not going to ignore their scouts and grab a polished college bat just because. In fact, McLeod seems to believe that because other teams are headed in that direction, the Cubs could be given an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise (perhaps some sort of young, high-ceiling pitcher or hitter?). Of course, in the end, he dances around the tried and true “We’ll take the best player available,” whether that’s a pitcher or not.
- To that end, Mike Axisa mocked a high school pitcher, Sam Carlson, to the Cubs with their first pick in the upcoming draft. But if you’re already nervous about the Cubs taking such a young pitcher, there’s a few positive things to know. First, Carlson is thought to be a “extremely advanced” for a high school kid. He has a fastball that sits in the mid 90s, and a slider and changeup that are quality offerings already. Further, the Cubs will only really have a shot of taking Carlson because their very big bonus pool (thanks to the extra pick gained from losing Dexter Fowler) will allow them to pay Carlson middle of the first round money at the end of the first round.
- We’ll cover the individual bonus pools later on, but suffice it to say that, despite picking last in the draft, the Cubs have the 18th largest bonus pool. That’s a lot of money to play with, which opens doors to the sort of younger players who might otherwise wait to sign. Whether or not Carlson is available and wants to sign is unclear, but if the Cubs believe he’s their guy, they should be able to dangle enough money to get him.
- Eli Hershkovich has also recently mocked the first round of the draft (including both of the Cubs’ first-round picks), and he’s projecting Nick Allen (the defensively talented shortstop we’ve heard so much about) to the Cubs at #27 and Hans Crouse (the bad guy from Die Hard) to the Cubs at #30. We’ve seen and discussed Allen to the Cubs before, but Crouse is a relatively new name. As a high school pitcher, Crouse ranked 8th on MLB Pipeline’s top high school prospects list, and does have some serious talent. While he sits 93-95 MPH with his fastball, Crouse has reportedly touched 97 MPH on occasion. His slider, meanwhile, flashes “plus” at times and comes with some hard, late bite.
- More non-baseball stuff entering the baseball world:
Regarding draft, Jed Hoyer says Oregon State P Luke Heimlich "will be off our board, I think" after news that he's a registered sex offender
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) June 8, 2017
- With the positive reputation the Cubs have tried their best to foster throughout the organization over the years, avoiding a player who’s a registered sex offender isn’t too surprising. Also, no, I don’t think any of the external Addison Russell allegations impacted this decision. The Cubs have always maintained that the quality of the person behind the player plays a significant role in roster building.
- Jim Callis has another mock at MLB.com, and once again high school shortstop Nick Allen has been projected to the Cubs in the first round. Usually, when there’s this much smoke there’s some actual fire behind the scenes, but I suppose we’ll see. There’s nothing wrong with taking the most talented defender in the draft.
- Although to be clear, Callis has the Cubs taking Allen with their second pick in the first round. With their first pick, Callis projects right-handed college pitcher Tanner Houck. Everyone, once again, seems so certain the Cubs will FINALLY take a pitcher this time around, but they have been saying that every season since 2012 and it’s still not played out that way.
- And finally, Baseball America has one more mock draft, including both of the Cubs picks:
- No. 27 – Daulton Varsho, C
- No. 30 – Clarke Schmidt, RHP
- Like many mocks before theirs, Baseball America is trying to finally send a pitcher to the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the draft. Usually, I’d say they were stretching to fit the narrative, but this selection at #30 actually makes some sense. Schmidt is a top-15 overall caliber talent, who will likely slip because of injury concerns (may need Tommy John surgery). Given the Cubs other choice a few spots before this, taking a high-upside arm with some question marks might be the way to go. The first projected pick, Varsho, is the sun of Gary Varsho (a Cubs draftee in 1982 and former Chicago Cub). Varsho is said to have the best bat among any college catcher – which is actually some really nice praise (there are at least two other first-round projected college catchers). Of all the mocks I’ve seen so far, this combination of picks may make the most sense (a polished college bat, a high-upside arm). But when it comes to this front office, who knows?