The MLB draft is rapidly approaching. It begins on Monday (Boo!) June 4 and continues through Tuesday and Wednesday. Why the ‘Boo!’? Because when the draft started on a Thursday like it used to, I could take just Friday off work and live Tweet the entire draft. It was fun, in a frantic, hectic, Google-ific sort of way. With the draft starting on Monday, though, taking Tuesday and Wednesday off is… complicated. Especially since June 5 is kind of a big day at my day job as well.
As for what the Cubs will be doing in the first round, I don’t think we should look for them to break form. They won’t target high risk players in the first round, and they’ll probably draft according what they see as the priority for the farm system at this time. The past two years that has meant a focus on college pitching both early and throughout the draft. This year, though, that may change.
The Cubs are packed to the gills with pitching in the lower minors. They probably don’t need to relentlessly focus on drafting a ton of college pitchers this year. What they do need, though, is upside. The system has lots of interesting prospects. What it lacks are potential impact prospects. If the Cubs move to address that weakness, we may see them draft more upside plays on Day 1 and 2 of the draft. For example, we might see more high school bats at up the middle positions and excellent college hitters without clear positional homes.
What we won’t see in the first round, I think, is a high school pitcher. High school pitchers are far and away the single most risky players to draft. They can pay off tremendously, eventually, but the risk factor is very high even by normal baseball prospect standards. Given the very depleted state of the Cubs’ farm system, this organization can’t really afford to gamble that first round pick. I think they’ll take an upside play, but I’ll be very surprised if they draft a high school pitcher in the first.
Who will they take? Jim Callis at MLB Pipeline says HS RHP Kumar Rocker. He’s a high-ceiling pitcher, but I doubt he’s the pick. Baseball America projects HS C Anthony Seilger. This pick fits how the Cubs’ have drafted lately more than Rocker, but I’m leaning elsewhere.
The two players I’m watching right now are Oklahoma OF Steele Walker (good pure hitter, could move fast, [Brett: Great name]) and Missouri State SS Jeremy Eierman (good bat speed, promising power, can play up the middle). If both are there, I lean Eierman.
- Duane Underwood: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 K
- Randy Rosario: 1.1 IP, 1 K
- Dillon Maples: 0.1 IP, 3 R, 4 BB
- Shae Simmons: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K
- Mike Freeman: 2 for 4, BB, SB
- Ryan Court: 1 for 4, 2B
- Michael Rucker: 6 IP, 2 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 9 K
- Jake Stinnett: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Scott Effross: 2 IP, 1 H, 3 K
- Trent Giambrone: 2 for 5, 3B, HR
- Zack Short: 2 for 4, BB
- Will Remillard: 2 for 4
- Matt Swarmer: 5 IP, 5 R, 7 H, 1 BB, 9 K
- Jordan Minch: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 K
- Tyler Peyton: 1.1 IP, 1 K
- Jhon Romero: 1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K
- Andruw Monasterio: 2 for 5, 2B
- Jhonny Pereda: 2 for 5
- Austin Upshaw: 2 for 4, 2B, 3B
- Connor Myers: 2 for 3, BB
- Brendon Little: 5 IP, 2 H, 4 BB, 5 K
- Enrique De Los Rios: 2 IP, 1 H, 2 K
- Austin Filiere: 1 for 3, 2B, BB
- Miguel Amaya: 1 for 2, 2B, 2 BB
- Yeiler Peguero: 2 for 4
- Brandon Hughes: 1 for 4, SB
- I linked it in the intro, but it bears highlighting here. Baseball America has a nice article on the Cubs draft strategy for this year, and it sounds like if potential impact bats are on the board the Cubs will be going for them.
- As for the Cubs second round pick, I’m hoping Connecticut LHP Tim Cate is still around. I had been eyeing him as a first rounder early this year. He’s not a big guy, but he has a very good curveball he can use to finish hitters and a nice fastball to set it up with. He’s already had arm surgery and is fighting off another arm problem this year, so his draft stock is falling. That means he could be a very good upside pick in the second round.
- Omaha did not pick up their first hit against Duane Underwood until the fifth inning. In his last two game Underwood has pitched 13.2 scoreless innings, struck out 10, allowed 5 walks, and just 4 hits.
- Start banking your Prospect Hipster street cred by talking about Myrtle Beach catcher Jhonny Pereda now. He’s 22, he’s hitting .304/.366/.363, and we know that catchers often develop with the bat a little slower than other positions. At 6’1″, 170 lbs, he has room to add some muscle, and with it will come a little extra power. His 9.1% walk rate and 13.1% strikeout rate bode very well for his ability to make consistent contact. Add it all up, and Pereda is looking like a strong candidate to be 2019’s Double A out-of-nowhere breakout guy. I can make a case that he has a breakout season underway right now.