It’s the week of the draft! And although our latest mock draft check-in was just four days ago, there are a few material updates to address this close to round one. But before any of it, let’s zoom out and reconsider the Cubs position based on the mocks and information we’ve covered already.
This Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs will make their first of five picks in the 2020 MLB Draft starting with No. 16 overall. And between two mocks from Jim Callis (MLB.com), three from Carlos Collazo (Baseball America), two from Kiley McDaniel (ESPN), three from Keith Law (The Athletic), one from Eric Longenhagen (FanGraphs), and one from Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com), the Cubs have been connected to just seven players.
Here’s the highest and lowest each of those seven players have been mocked so far:
Tyler Soderstrom: 13th, 24th
Robert Hassell: 8th, 17th
Tanner Burns: 16th, un-picked
Garrett Mitchell: 11th, 21st
Cade Cavalli: 10th, 21st
Mick Abel: 12th, 23rd
Austin Hendrick: 8th, 16th
Note, that although the Cubs were connected to Tanner Burns early and often, he’s since fallen off several first round mock boards, bringing the actual list down to six players. From there, Tyler Soderstrom has been so often mocked to the Giants (13th overall) that he’s starting to feel like a lock not to be available by the time the Cubs are up – which brings us down to five.
After that, Robert Hassell and Austin Hendrick are pretty clearly in the Cubs’ sights, but also project as more likely to be gone by the time they pick, which really whittles the list down to three names (before today): Garrett Mitchell (OF, UCLA), Cade Cavalli (RHP, Oklahoma), Mick Abel (RHP, high school).
Mitchell has had – by far – the most steam here lately, with Jonathan Mayo, Keith Law, and Kiley McDaniel all mocking him to the Cubs in their most recent mock updates. And that list only grows today.
Pick: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
With Robert Hassell (No. 8, Padres), Austin Hendrick (No. 12, Reds), and Cade Cavalli (No. 15, Phillies) all off the board when the Cubs go on the clock, FanGraphs is projecting Garrett Mitchell to Chicago at No. 16 overall. That’s the fourth new mock to identify this pairing and a notable one, with Tyler Soderstrom still theoretically available when they pick. I will point out, however, that Longenhagen goes out of his way to mention both Soderstrom and Cavalli as a possibility for the Cubs in this range.
Nonetheless, to say Mitchell is now the favorite feels fair. Surprises can happen, and he’s obviously not the first and only name on their board, but with the players generally expected to be available by the time the Cubs pick comes around, Mitchell seems like the guy
So while we’re on him, I thought I’d bring something new up from Keith Law.
We’ve already gotten three mock drafts from Keith Law this year, so he’s moved on to overall prospect rankings (i.e. not a prediction of where each player will be picked, but rather a ranking of their talents and expected performance in the future). If you’re wondering why a guy wouldn’t be projected to be taken in the order he’s ranked, consider organizational need, preference, signability, etc.
In any case, I bring it up because Garrett Mitchell is actually considered the 12th best prospect in this class, ahead of Cavalli (13th), Abel (16th), Hendrick (21st), Soderstrom (25th), and Burns (27th) – a.k.a. five other players mocked to the Cubs.
Mitchell raked enough as a sophomore and early this spring to put himself squarely into the first round — especially given his 80 run times and plus defense in center field. The questions about his bat are at least partly answered; he hit .350/.419/.550 from the start of 2019 until the shutdown and only struck out 12 percent of the time, although I have seen him have timing issues and meet the ball out front, so it’s a contact quality issue rather than swing-and-miss. Even if he’s just a 45 hit/45 power guy in the end, his defense and speed make him a potential regular for some team that can get comfortable with an everyday player who must manage a chronic health condition*.
Mitchell’s defense and speed can make him a regular if his realistic offensive floor is the highest he reaches. If he finds a way to be even a slightly above average hitter, you’ve probably got a bit of a star. Sign me up.
*Mitchell has Type 1 diabetes
Jordan Bastian didn’t exactly do a mock draft, but he is plenty tapped into the Cubs network and mentions two names, with a little more separation than any others in his latest at Cubs.com: outfielders Austin Hendrick and Garrett Mitchell – so, no surprises there. He also name drops Soderstrom, Hassell, and Abel, before adding two new players to the list.
First, Bastian identifies a local high school shortstop Ed Howard (Mount Carmel High School in Chicago) as a potential pick for the Cubs, who also happens to be considered “the best true shortstop” in the class – a type the Cubs have targeted many times before.
For reference, Howard ranked 15th in Keith Law’s rankings, and it’s clear his ability to stick at shortstop in the big leagues is a widely held belief. That gives him a tremendous floor. Unfortunately, as a high school product, he’s been tough to scout amid COVID-19, making his draft stock (like many of his high school peers) very tough to peg.
Bastian also links the Cubs to Tennessee lefty Garrett Crochet, though it’s more of a passing mention than any of the rest.
Obviously, anything can happen in the draft – perhaps that’s more true than ever – but it seems like the Cubs are leaning towards a position player. Even still, I can’t shake the feeling that with a new draft leader, Dan Kantrovitz, in the house, predicting the Cubs moves is a very difficult task.