MLB Draft Notes: Cubs Focusing on Five? Green Sliding? New Mock, Updated Rankings, More

The MLB Draft begins in six days, and the Chicago Cubs hold the seventh overall pick. Let’s get into some of the latest Draft Notes …

  • Fortunately for the Cubs, there is an increasing consensus – among outsiders and industry types, that is – that there are seven prospects in the top tier of the draft: Druw Jones, Jackson Holliday, Elijah Green, Termarr Johnson, Kevin Parada, Cam Collier, and Brooks Lee. In every mock I’ve seen, Jones and Holliday are always gone before the Cubs pick at seven, so really you’re talking about the other five.
  • Incidentally, those are the five Sahadev Sharma discusses in his latest piece on the draft. We have talked frequently about all of them except prep outfielder Elijah Green, who was virtually never on the board for the Cubs in the first half of mock draft season, but lately has very occasionally been the one of the top seven to slip. From Sharma:
  • “Green has some of the biggest tools and arguably the biggest upside in the draft. So why could he possibly fall to the Cubs? When scouts see him bad, the swing-and-miss can be tough to take. The strikeouts are definitely a concern, but he just turned 18 — meaning he’s young and models will love him — and he has as much power as any player who has been drafted in recent memory. It’s not just awe-inspiring homers, like the two he hit for Team USA last summer, but measurable data of elite exit velocities wowing R&D staffs. He looks like he could stick in center and is a plus runner with a plus-plus arm. There are Jo Adell comps here — which could be looked at as a negative as the end result for Adell hasn’t panned out — but even bigger, stronger and more explosive.”

  • If Green should fall to the Cubs, and guys like Collier/Johnson/Parada are off the board? They should leap at the upside.
  • A very interesting thing in Sharma’s piece: Cubs VP of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz, who runs the draft, said that the Cubs do have seven names they’re focusing on … but obviously did not say that it was the group of seven the industry believes are the top seven. Sharma, later in his article, includes two college bats – Campbell shortstop Zach Neto and Virginia Tech outfielder Gavin Cross – as other names to keep in mind. Any chance those two, plus the five who might slide, are the seven names on Kantrovitz’s list?
  • If things shake out in a weird way on draft day – a bonus demand goes up, an injury item is revealed, etc. – the Cubs might try to snag one of those guys for below slot so that they can target pricier picks in the later rounds? Such is the nature of the draft in the bonus pool era: you want to draft the best player available with each pick … but you also have to be sure you can actually sign your picks within your bonus pool (plus a 5% overage, which the Cubs always use). It’s possible that the Cubs could value Neto plus some top tier high school arm with a big bonus demand in round two as more than, say, Green plus a cheap sign in round two.
  • Speaking of Green sliding, he shows up at seven in Kiley McDaniel’s updated pre-draft rankings, and is the only one of the top seven who would not immediately place on McDaniel’s top 100 prospects list (118). Basically, the story is what you see from a lot of places on Green: where he was once considered a heavy favorite to go 1.1 in this class, he has faced great competition the last couple years, and more swing-and-miss has emerged in the process. So all the tools are still there – incredible speed/power combo – but now you might worry about the bust potential. I suspect a team’s interest in him would depend on their own belief in their ability to work on that issue (and also it might depend on whether the issue is primarily mechanical, or whether it’s about pitch recognition (which would be a bigger problem)).
  • Keith Law’s latest mock is a bit of a wild ride compared to many others, with Brooks Lee going first overall, and with the Cubs passing on BOTH Cam Collier and Elijah Green at seven, and instead taking Zach Neto:
  • “Everyone has assumed all spring that the Cubs will go with a college bat here, but I could see them taking one of the premium high school bats who “falls” here, whether that’s Johnson or Green. I’ve had them taking Collier in previous mocks but that seems less likely now.

    “Scouting Report: Neto is a definite shortstop who should be a plus defender in the majors and has a plus arm, but he’s really made himself some money this spring with his performance, including just a mere 7.6 percent strikeout rate for the Camels. He’s got the extraneous movement that you need to have to be a top hitting prospect in this year’s draft, although he calms it down with two strikes; despite that, he’s short to the ball and makes high-quality contact, even hitting for some home-run power that may not persist into pro ball with wood bats and better pitching. He’s spent a little time on the mound, but his future is on the dirt, and with his propensity for putting the bat on the ball and enough power to project as a 30-doubles guy, he should go in the top half of the first round.”

  • Hmm. Taking Collier seems “less likely now” for the Cubs? That’s interesting. That’s the first time we’ve heard of a situation where Collier would still be there at seven for the Cubs, and they would pass on him for anyone other than Termarr Johnson. Collier is ranked second on Law’s updated draft prospect rankings, by the way. Green is fourth, and Neto is ninth.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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