Following Day Two of the draft, the Cubs scorecard looks like this:
College Pitchers: 7
College Hitters: 1
High School Pitchers: 1
High School Hitters: 1
For the details on these guys, check out Brett’s Day Two coverage.
For the most part the Cubs have stuck with the plan we expected – college arms, college arms, and more college arms. But, as expected, they did take a couple of high upside shots.
Jeremy Estrada (6th round), the lone high school pitcher taken, has at times looked like one of the top high school pitchers in this draft. And at times he very much hasn’t. If he signs (he will probably take something over slot to sign), it may be a while before we really know what the Cubs have in him. I don’t think we should be expecting anything like the upside of a Dylan Cease, but he does have the potential to eventually turn into a Major League player.
It is the other high upside shot that has me much more intrigued. Nelson Velazquez is the sort of player we simply do not see this front office take very often. He is an extremely raw, and loaded with potentially plus tools. Baseball America dropped a 70 on his speed, put a plus on his bat speed and arm, and rated his power as at least average. The only thing missing from that recipe is the hitter attribute the Cubs appear to value the most – plate discipline. But if that is something the Cubs can teach, he has the potential to be an impact guy.
Patience will be required with Velazquez, and possibly a lot of patience. If he signs, it maybe four years before we really have a solid idea how high his ceiling is, or if his ceiling is worth pondering. But if you were looking for one sleeper prospect to quietly follow for the next few years, Velazquez might be that guy.
Now, as we head into Day Three of the draft, I can make two predictions with a very high amount of confidence. No, make that three predictions. Today, the Cubs will draft more college pitchers, a couple middle infielders, and a couple catchers. The first prediction is obvious. The second is because they actually haven’t taken a middle infielder yet, and the Cubs generally like to draft a few each year. And that goes for third prediction as well.
Other than that, I noticed that the Cubs did not appear to prioritize height in their pitchers this season like that did last year; that trend may continue through Day Three, or we may see the Cubs shift back to looking for pitchers who get an excellent downward plane on their pitches thanks to their extra inches.
Either way, pitching is very likely to remain the focus of the day.