Deep in the low minors, the Cubs’ 2019 draft class is trickling into box scores and showing up on video, giving us our first impressions of the newest entrants to the farm system. The draft class will be complete as of Friday’s signing deadline, but as we wait on those last few decisions, here are some notes on what we’ve seen or read about so far.
First Round – Ryan Jensen – Signed Under Slot
We’re still waiting for Ryan Jensen’s debut in Eugene, but it’s coming soon.
— Eugene Emeralds (@EugeneEmeralds) July 5, 2019
While we wait on that, Patrick Mooney at The Athletic wrote about Jensen’s selection and bulldog mentality:
Cubs first-round pick Ryan Jensen on his low rating going into the draft: “They have nothing on me because they don’t scout mid-major schools.” @PJ_Mooney talked to the confident, hard-throwing pitcher: https://t.co/NexvA7kYY8
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticCHI) June 29, 2019
Second Round – Chase Strumpf – Signed for Slot
Strumpf is the hottest hitter in the system, having reached base in 8 of his last 11 trips, scoring 5 runs in 3 games, with two doubles and a home run during that time. Expect the Cubs to bump him to South Bend soon, with an eye on starting him in Myrtle Beach next year.
I'm just here for the Chase Strumpf highlights. pic.twitter.com/1T9a5T0OQc
— Eldrad (@thats_so_cub) July 9, 2019
First week impressions of second rounder Chase Strumpf, who is red-hot in the Northwest League. Skinny, athletic frame, some projection left in the upper body. Had him average or so (mid 4.3s) down the line. Short, clean, quick to the ball, backspin comes naturally. Will hit.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) July 9, 2019
Third Round – Michael McAvene – Signed Under Slot
We last saw him in Omaha, which ended in a bit of disappointment, although it did provide McAvene with his high moment:
After the tournament, Jim Callis reported McAvene’s official signing.
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) June 29, 2019
Fourth Round – Chris Clarke – Signed for Slot
Fifth Round – Josh Burgmann – Signed Under Slot
These two signed early, went through Cubs orientation in Mesa, and debuted quickly in Eugene. Here were my thoughts seeing each.
First look at 4th rounder Chris Clarke, who began career tonight with scoreless inning for Eugene. Pitching only from stretch. Strong classic pitcher’s frame. Touched 96 according to broadcast. K on 93. Has some movement. Slider consistency will be big. Will be tough on RHH.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) July 8, 2019
Sixth Round – Ethan Hearn – Signed Above Slot
There's one of the big ones for the Cubs. We knew Hearn was going to sign, but now we know how much. Considered top prep catcher in the draft by some, Hearn gets end-of-second-round money. Great work by the Cubs to get him in the 6th.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) July 4, 2019
Seventh Round – Brad Deppermann – Signed Under Slot
Eighth Round – D.J. Herz – Signed Above Slot
Ninth Round – Tyler Schlaffer – Signed Above Slot
All these deals are official, but none of these 3 pitchers have thrown yet. We might not see Deppermann for more than a few innings, given that his 95 innings this season for North Florida led the draft class. High Schoolers Herz and Schlaffer could see some regular action in the AZL in August.
Tenth Round – Wyatt Hendrie – Unsigned
Eleventh Round – Mack Chambers – Unsigned
The signing deadline for the MLB Draft is end of business Friday, and these are the only two names that remain a question mark. The Cubs signed the rest of their top 32 selections, and they will let their final 8 go unsigned. The question is what happens with these two names.
Right now, The Cubs have about $24,000 in overage left before reaching the allowable 105% of bonus pool threshold (before you lose a future draft pick – Cubs are not going to exceed that). Should Hendrie not sign, the Cubs would lose his part of that overage, meaning they would have just over $17,000 to spend. The first $125,000 of a hypothetical Chambers bonus wouldn’t count towards slot (that’s how it is for picks after the 10th round), so if Hendrie doesn’t sign, the highest the Cubs can go with Chambers is about 142K. Perhaps it’s more of a staring contest with these two than was anticipated.
Day 3 Picks
It’s noteworthy the Cubs have already given six bonuses right at that 125K mark: 12th rounder Hunter Bigge, 14th rounder Ryan Reynolds, 15th rounder Zach Bryant, 16th rounder Johzan Oquendo, 19th rounder Adam Laskey and 23rd rounder Manny Collier. I think it’s safe to assume that 13th rounder Porter Hodge, a big high school right-hander from Utah, will join that group. The fact that his deal is agreed to but not official suggests he might be allotted some of that overage if Hendrie and Chambers don’t sign.
Hunter Bigge hit 96 on the Eugene gun in his debut last night, striking out five in two innings with good command of his curveball into the dirt with two strikes. Getting Collier was a nice hit for the draft class, he was an underscouted Arizona high schooler most assumed would go play junior college football.
In terms of on-field play, the star of the draft class so far has been a former Illini:
Zac Taylor (.417/.473/.813) has had a heck of a first few weeks as a professional ballplayer.
In just 11 career contests he's already managed: a 3-HR game, a 2-HR game, a 5-hit game, a 3-SB game, a 5-RBI game, and now a 5-R game.
20-for-48, 2 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 16 R, 15 RBI, 7/7 SB.
— Michael Ernst (@mj_ernst) July 7, 2019
In fact, a lot of the late-round college bats – Taylor, Grayson Byrd, Nelson Maldonado, Jacob Olson – are hitting like crazy in their first few games in Eugene. That’s not all that uncommon at the low levels, but it’s also the case that the Cubs have had a lot of success getting one or two of those types to break out into the upper levels (David Bote, Zack Short, Trent Giambrone all quickly come to mind as recent examples).
One thing I like to do each year is put the draft class and IFA class together in one bucket of amateur acquisitions. Instead of looking at draft position, arranging these guys by bonus might give a better idea of how to manage expectations with these guys.
Cubs 2019 Draft and IFA Signings, ranked by bonus
1. Ronnier Quintero, C
2. Ryan Jensen, SP
3. Kevin Made, SS
4. Chase Strumpf, 2B
5. Brayan Altuve, C
6. Ethan Hearn, C
7. Michael McAvene, RP
8. D.J. Herz, LHP
9. Chris Clarke, RP
10. Tyler Schlaffer, RHP
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) July 8, 2019