Today is Draft Day. Are you excited? I’m excited.
I’d more excited if the Draft was the start of the weekend instead of wrecking productivity at the start of a week, but hey, I’m still excited. But seriously, MLB, this Monday draft thing … not a fan. Move it back to Thursday night, please. [Brett: Also, if it could not be competing against a Cubs game in the future, that’d be great.]
So what should we look for? By now we have a pretty good idea how the Cubs draft, and based on that we can loosely project how the Cubs will approach their picks at No. 27 and No. 30.
The standard phrase is “best player available”, but that really isn’t applicable drafting this far down. Unless someone unexpectedly slides, and somehow gets past the Red Sox who draft just ahead of the Cubs and have a similar draft philosophy, there probably won’t be a clear “best player” on the board when the Cubs pick. Once you get past the top few talents in most drafts, players more or less fall into tiers rather nicely ranked lists. Odds are good that when the Cubs pick, they will have a handful of players at the top of their draft board who could be described as “best player” depending on how you arranged the metrics.
Instead, we should probably look for distinctive attributes. The Cubs have a history of drafting elite tools, or at least one elite tool, with their first pick or two. The Cubs like to draft tall pitchers who induce ground balls. They like to draft polished hitters with an advanced understanding of the strike zone. The like to draft good defenders who play somewhere up the middle and can be moved around to other positions. And they like to draft players who are good at baseball over athletes who are playing baseball. That last one is a subtle distinction, but it is a valuable one.
And, finally, if they can find someone who fits their criteria and can be signed for under slot, thereby freeing up money to be more aggresive later, then they will almost certainly do that.
The wild card, though, is that the Cubs will also take advantage of how the draft shapes up. I strongly doubt they are prioritizing high school pitching in the first round (worst risk in the draft, even for guys who are alleged to be “low risk”), but if there is a run on bats and college arms ahead of them and some highly regarding HS arms fall, then the Cubs may well take advantage.
Anyway, it should be fun.
- Aaron Brooks: 6 IP, 6 R, 9 H, 6 K
- Mark Zagunis: 2 for 4, 2B
- Victor Caratini: 1 for 3, 2B
- Chris Dominguez: 1 for 4, 2B
- Ali Solis: 1 for 1, 2B
- Zach Hedges: 5.2 IP, 7 R (4 ER), 8 H, 2 BB, 4 K
- Brad Markey: 1.1 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 K
- Dillon Maples: 1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 2 K
- Andrew Ely: 1 for 4, 2B
- Ian Rice: 2 for 4, 2B, HR
- Michael Rucker: 4.2 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 5 K
- Tommy Thorpe: 1.2 IP, 1 K
- Dakota Mekkes: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 1 K
- Bryant Flete: 3 for 5
- Jesse Hodges: 3 for 5, 2B
- Daniel Spingola: 2 for 3, BB
- Eloy Jimenez: 1 for 4, HR
- Dylan Cease: 2 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 4 K
- Pedro Silverio: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K
- Zack Short: 2 for 5, 2B
- Vimael Machin: 1 for 3, 2B, BB
- Chris Pieters: 1 for 3, 3B, BB
- We’ve been talking mostly about the Cubs top two picks, but they actually pick three times tonight. They will also make their pick at the end of the second round, and there is no telling what they might do with that one.
- With that loss the Smokies have fallen into second place, half a game behind Chattanooga. Those two teams are starting to separate themselves from third place Montgomery a bit, though, making it likely that this week’s showdown with Chattanooga (starting Wednesday) will decide the division first half title.
- Dylan Cease is back from his ankle injury, but threw only 28 pitches yesterday over two innings. Given that it was his first start after a DL stint, I would not be too concerned at the limited appearance. Not unless word comes out about some sort of complication, anyway. The Cubs are probably going to play it very safe with their best pitching prospect. He struck out four in those two innings, by the way, because obviously.
- Throwing high fastballs to Eloy Jimenez is probably not a real great strategy. Jimenez proved once again that High A stadiums just aren’t being enough to contain him:
- The homer was Jimenez’s 6th in just 22 games this season, and the Cubs’ top prospect is hitting .293/.398/.560 at High A. Just one player in the Carolina League has a higher OPS than Jimenez, who remains one of the youngest players in the league (20).
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.