Many of the Cubs’ earlier-round picks, perhaps especially first rounder Ryan Jensen, all have fantastic upside, but also have the look of “under slot” types – guys whom the Cubs may try to sign for less than their allotted slot value, allowing the team to use more of their bonus pool on later round, big swing, pricey types.
Through five rounds, though, we hadn’t actually seen the Cubs draft a guy like that (usually a high schooler with a strong college commitment, disinclined to pass it up unless he gets $X).
But, at pick 192, they just pulled the trigger on Ethan Hearn out of Alabama, considered by some to be the best high school catcher in the draft.
MLB Pipeline ranked Hearn 67th overall in the draft, describing him thusly:
“His talent and the relative lack of catching available this year is pushing him up boards. Hearn’s two most impressive tools are his raw power and pure arm strength, both of which grade as plus. He’s a left-handed hitter whose strength and aggressive, pull-oriented mindset give him plenty of pop to right field. He has a quick release on his throws and can record 1.9-second pop times to second base. A Mississippi State recruit, Hearn still requires some offensive and defensive polish. He needs to temper his approach at the plate because he doesn’t always make consistent contact against quality pitching. He has improved as a receiver but still has more work to do and loses concentration more often than he should.”
FanGraphs ranked Hearn 71st in the draft, and called him a, “Plus defender with a plus arm and above average raw power, but needs a reworked swing and may never be more than a 40 bat.” His arm actually ranked as the best in the entire draft at FanGraphs.
Keith Law’s top prospects list suggested that Hearn might be about the third best high school catching prospect in the draft in his view.
With some bonus pool savings earlier on, the Cubs should be able to sweeten their offer to Hearn to keep him from going to Mississippi State. Their sixth round pick has a slot of $247,000, but we’ve seen high schoolers like Hearn in recent years get three or four times that amount to sign away from college.
Here’s a look at some Hearn batting practice in his Team USA jersey:
The Cubs just selected Ethan Hearn with their sixth-round pick. Here's some BP from the summer. pic.twitter.com/9caCtrz9ia
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) June 4, 2019
And here he is in the lead up to the Under Armour Game at Wrigley Field last summer:
That is a big, strong young man.