Cubs Minor League Daily: Draft Bonus Update, and What To Expect From Mark Zagunis

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Cubs Minor League Daily: Draft Bonus Update, and What To Expect From Mark Zagunis

Chicago Cubs

Mark Zagunis had quietly been having a very good season in Iowa when he got the call to the big league team yesterday. He left Triple A with a line of .249/.399/.474, 11 home runs, a fantastic 17.9% walk rate, and a solid 22.4% strikeout rate. His BABIP of .294 was substantially below his career norm, and that probably trimmed a bit off his batting average. Otherwise, those numbers are more or less in line with what we’ve seen from him throughout his professional career.

Despite the uptick in power we have witnessed over roughly the last season and a half, I don’t think we should look for Zagunis to be a slugging outfielder. He certainly isn’t the sort of player who is going to replicate the home run or isolate slugging totals that we know Kyle Schwarber is capable of putting up, for example. Instead, look for Zagunis to spray line drives all over the outfield. His power is mostly to left, but he does a very nice job shooting the ball into right on a regular basis. Combine that with his excellent eye and selective plate approach, and Zagunis has the makings of a productive hitter.

His real benefit is being an on-base guy. He doesn’t have much speed, but he is smart about his baserunning (I suspect that could be said about all Cubs’ farm hands under this front office). His best position might be as the number nine hitter, batting ahead of Anthony Rizzo.

Defensively, he can play in any outfield slot, but I suspect the Cubs will primarily keep him in the corners. He isn’t a great defender out there, but I suspect he’ll grade out as something over average in left in the majors.

Hopefully he gets plenty of playing time while with the Cubs, because I don’t think he’s likely to stay up very long. He’ll be back, though, in September if not before.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Round Rock 4, Iowa 1
Candelario is definitely heating up again.

Double A: Tennessee Smokies

The Smokies, currently in Mobile, were unsurprisingly rained out.

High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Myrtle Beach 2, Down East 1
The first half champions opened the second half with a win.

Low A: South Bend Cubs
South Bend 1, Great Lakes 1, but the game isn’t over.

Short Season A: Eugene Emeralds
Eugene 4, Boise 1
The Emeralds came from behind with the help some very good pitching.

Other Notes

  • Given that Zagunis profiles as a good fourth outfielder or average-ish third outfielder, it is very possible that some other team will be looking to take him off the Cubs’ hands. A high OBP corner outfielder with all of his pre-arbitration years available could be a fairly valuable addition to a number of cash-strapped clubs.
  • The South Bend game was suspended by rain with one out in the bottom of the seventh. It will be completed today in advance of the regularly scheduled game.
  • Promotions and roster shufflings continue. After a few days with Eugene, defensively gifted Connor Myers returns to Myrtle Beach. To make room, Myrtle Beach sends on up to Tennessee left handed hitting sleeper prospect Daniel Spingola. Myers has struggled at the plate this season (wRC+ 12), but Spingola certainly hasn’t (wRC+ 124). Both are well worth keeping an eye on.
  • Yes, that wRC+ for Myers really is 12. That’s what happens when you post a line of .150/.205/.196 over 119 plate appearances.
  • The Cubs have signed a few more draft picks, and for the most part it looks they are signing at or near slot. Baseball America notes that the Cubs have signed 14 total picks, but their draft signing tracker has not yet been updated with that info. MLB Pipeline has some bonus info and signings noted on their more limited tracker, but the data is a bit hard to parse (pro tip: do a cntrl-f for CHC).
  • More of note, per MLB Pipeline, the Cubs have not saved a dime against the bonus pool in signing anyone other than No. 27 overall Brendon Little, and then they saved only about $170k. That puts a bit of pressure on their signing of Alex Lange (No. 30 overall). If the Cubs are going to find any pool space to attempt to sign any tough signs later on the draft, it will likely come in large part from that slot, as well as the senior draft picks in rounds 9 and 10 (bonuses not yet listed).
  • There is a lot of speculation the Cubs will have trouble signing 6th rounder Jeremy Estrada, and that they will need quite a bit of savings to accomplish that task. I tend to think the Cubs probably knew the math was going to work out to land Estrada, otherwise they would have spent that 6th round pick on someone else. Assuming Estrada is asking for a bonus somewhere around the $1 million range (a totally made up, but historically plausible round number), the Cubs only need to raise about $400k. By devoting all of their ‘allowed without draft penalty’ 5% overage to Estrada, they can open by offering him about $595k now. The Cubs could plausibly save about $130k each in signing picks 9 and 10; that savings plus the allowed overage, plus the savings on Little gets them to the $1 million mark. I think the Cubs knew they could sign Estrada when the took him.
  • Savings from Lange (1st round, pick 30) and Abbott (2nd round), if any, will allow them to be more aggressive deeper in the draft as they attempt to land expected over slot talents such as Hunter Ruth (injured HS RHP who had second round potential when healthy).

Author: Luke Blaize

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @ltblaize.