The tabs I keep open in my browser have reached such a critical mass that I have to fire a ton of them off in the form of a Cubs Prospect Notes rather than dig into some of them individually. So enjoy a pile of prospecting bits …
⇒ The Cubs don’t qualify for competitive balance picks, and haven’t had any compensatory picks in a good long while, so their draft bonus pool remains lower than the actual spot where they’re drafting. And the difference between the teams with the top pools and the teams with the smallest pools remains enormous:
Draft Bonus Slots were announced yesterday.
The Cubs will pick 21st in the 1st round and possess the 7th lowest total bonus pool ($6,779,400) in MLB. The Pirates and Tigers can each spend more than $14M.
Last year the Cubs signed 1st Rd Pick (16th) Ed Howard for $3,745,500 pic.twitter.com/HFp7XM4yek
— Michael Ernst (@mj_ernst) May 28, 2021
⇒ Among the points there? It’s good that the Cubs always spend 5% over their bonus pool to max out their draft return (that’s the most you can spend without losing future draft picks). But the SYSTEM IS SET UP to ensure that they have less to spend each year than smaller-market, higher-drafting teams. It is SET UP THAT WAY because of the presumption that the Cubs, in Chicago with a large fan base, will spend more money on payroll, infrastructure, front office, etc., so the other clubs are due an artificial advantage somewhere else. The Cubs do the best they can in the draft, but consider this your annual reminder that they are SUPPOSED TO spend more on payroll than the other NL Central clubs.
⇒ A reminder, also, that the draft this year is not in mid-June like it always had been. We’d be in heavy draft prep mode right now! Instead, it’s been moved back to start the weekend of All-Star week in mid-July.
⇒ Speaking of the draft, you always take note when Keith Law drops something like this about a specific connection, because it does it very rarely:
Interesting note in Keith Law’s mock, “strongly linking” the Cubs to Will Taylor. Taylor is an OF who is also a star in football and wrestling. He’s rising up boards right now. Big speed, average arm, good hit tool. Biggest question is future power. pic.twitter.com/27wpyj8kZC
— Ivy Futures (@IvyFutures) May 27, 2021
⇒ For what it’s worth, Taylor went 25th to the A’s in BA’s most recent mock: “Taylor hit well last summer and has added more strength early this spring, though power is still perhaps the one question mark in his game. He can run, throw, hit and field and he’s been tagged in the back of the first round frequently of late, though his multi-sport commitment to Clemson could complicate things.” The Cubs’ draft, of course, is now led by Dan Kantrovitz, formerly of the A’s. Time was, you’d never even dream of connecting the Cubs to a high-risk high school bat in the first round. But they took a chance on the upside of prep shortstop Ed Howard last year, and with Kantrovitz running his second draft with the Cubs, I certainly wouldn’t rule out them doing it again.
⇒ The Cubs duo at The Athletic dug into the farm system, a variety of prospects, and the new development infrastructure here (if Craig Breslow eventually is promoted to GM, you’ll understand why the Cubs maybe straight up had to do it just to keep him):
— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) May 30, 2021
⇒ Interesting specific in there on why Miguel Amaya isn’t flashing power yet (.233/.418/.329, 129 wRC+):
Reports from Tennessee are that with a lineup decimated by injuries around him, Amaya has barely gotten a fastball to hit. That’s unusual in the Southern League, where hitters are actually often challenged with quality heat. Amaya has been pitched around for the most part, which is disappointing. But for what the Cubs prioritize across the minors — plate discipline, decision-making and doing damage on pitches in your zone — the young backstop is checking all the boxes.
Amaya is walking at nearly a 20 percent rate and not chasing. As players get healthy and quality hitters like Strumpf and top prospect Brennen Davis eventually make their way to the Smokies roster, Amaya should get more opportunities to hunt heaters in the zone.
⇒ As I was reading the names in Todd’s tweet, I had the same Jeremiah Estrada reaction before I even got to his:
⇒ If you forgot, Estrada, 22, was an over-slot 6th rounder for the Cubs in 2017, dealt with arm issues immediately and missed all of 2018, flashed eye-popping stuff for the briefest of times in 2019, had to get Tommy John surgery, and is only now finally coming back. The excitement is based purely on the stuff, which – again – was eye-popping to those who got to observe him in the brief stretch when he was healthy. A lot of us have been excited for him to finally come back, even if we’d probably all admit the risks for his long-term future are now pretty significant. He’s just a serious hype guy, whom the scouts have all loved. Excited to see him back.
⇒ Speaking of guys the scouts all love, Burl Carraway’s absurd stuff is still absurd, and he’s actually throwing strikes now. The curveball is just Zito-level nuts:
⇒ Carraway, who has yet to give up a hit and seems to have gotten back on track with the control, gets more love here:
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 31, 2021
⇒ Crazy stuff from Robert Stock, who is just waiting for a turn down at Triple-A Iowa with a lot of other quality relievers:
— Caleb Webb (@calebgwebb) May 30, 2021
⇒ Multiple retirements in the system:
Surprised by this but I wish Bailey and his new family the best of luck in retirement. pic.twitter.com/2IOAElkvRs
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) May 25, 2021
⇒ The Kevin Goldstein chat last week featured a question about whether the Cubs’ apparent pitching improvements in the system are legit and whether the league is taking notice, and yes, it’s legit and they’re noticing:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 24, 2021
⇒ Chase Strumpf was featured in Baseball Prospectus’ Monday Morning Ten Pack, as Nathan Graham wrote this after a live look:
Defensively, Strumpf lacks enough lateral quickness to play the six, which will limit his value. He is competent in the field with good instincts and enough physical ability to handle any other position in the infield though. Pre-draft some scouts thought that his lack of arm strength would limit him to second base. However, in my recent looks he got some time at third and the arm looked strong and accurate enough to handle the hot corner.
⇒ Strumpf, 23, is hitting .309/.418/.382 (134 wRC+) at High-A South Bend so far this year, with the line drive stroke extremely apparent, but the power still not quite there. When a guy with his frame is lining the ball all over the place, though, you can reasonably suspect that the power comes next.
⇒ I love out-of-season IFA signings, because you maybe just found yourself a guy who slipped through the cracks (especially young pitchers, who are often really hard to scout):
— Francys Romero (@francysromero10) May 18, 2021