The final day of the 2022 MLB Draft is here, with Rounds 11 through 20 going off. If you missed any of the coverage of Day Two, catch yourself up here.
The hallmark of day three in the current draft system is that it’s the “free day,” by which I mean the picks are no longer tied to the draft bonus pool. If you pick a player today and fail to sign him, it does not impact the size of your bonus pool in any way. The only way today’s picks can impact the pool is if you sign a player for more than $125,000 – in that case, the amount over $125,000 does count against the pool.
To that end, Bryan and others have eyeballed the picks so far, and we figure the Cubs might have around a couple hundred thousand dollars in space left to be used on overages today. Enough to take some tougher-to-sign swings, but not enough to land any of the tip-top talents that haven’t been drafted yet (those guys haven’t been drafted yet precisely because they are expected to cost a huge signing bonus if they are going to sign).
I expect today to be a mix of pitchers and position players (after the first two days were almost exclusively pitchers), and it will be college-heavy. The Cubs will probably draft a couple off-the-radar high school prospects that they think they MIGHT be able to sign for a six-figure bonus, and if one of them jumps, that might be the rest of the pool.
Otherwise, today is all about the scouting plays. Less-heralded prospects that you’ve unearthed by way of a combination of data analysis and good-old-fashioned boots on the ground scouting.
I’ll update below the Cubs’ picks for today as they happen live, working in as much instant info as I can gather between picks.
* * *
Round 11 (323) – Branden Noriega, LHP: Announced without a school affiliation, Noriega pitched in the Draft League this year, with 14 strikeouts and 10 walks in 11.0 innings.
The 21-year-old lefty was throwing quite hard:
I can’t speak to this source – you have to dig deep sometimes on these guys – but a pre-Draft League ranking of pitchers had Noriega as 24th in the league: “Projectable body and a low mileage arm with present arm strength, despite poor mechanics, has been up to 98, with a sharp breaking ball.”
Hey, a pre-existing Cubs connection:
* * *
Round 12 (353) – Mathew Peters, RHP (Ivy Tech Community College) – A draft-eligible sophomore at a junior college, Peters will qualify for a draft-and-follow (i.e., the Cubs could sign him later if they want). I suspect they want to sign him right away, though, because a quick Google indicates he can touch 101 mph. So there’s your reason for the pick!
Here’s a local article about Peters’ history – completely unregarded in high school as a serious prospect – and all the grind he’s gone through to transform his body and his arm. Sounds pretty compelling to me.
* * *
Round 13 (383) – Luis Rujano, RHP (Florida, High School) – A big swing here, relatively speaking, as Rujano is a ranked high school arm, 234 to MLB Pipeline: “Rujano’s size and arm strength certainly made him stand out on last summer’s showcase circuit, and he made the rounds, pitching at events like Perfect Game’s National Showcase and the East Coast Professional Showcase. While he hasn’t made any huge steps forward in terms of pitchability, the raw tools on the mound still stand out. The big right-hander checks off all the boxes in terms of his physicality, using his 6-foot-4 frame well and making it easy to dream on more to come once he gets pro instruction. He’s been up to 96 mph with his fastball, typically sitting in the low 90s now. He has a tight slider but struggles to spin his breaking ball consistently, and while there’s some feel for a changeup, it’s also inconsistent. Rujano uses a methodical delivery with a big kick out of the windup and is still much more thrower than pitcher, with a need to work on his command. The South Florida recruit will be 19 at Draft time, and any team interested in selecting him will likely have to be patient on the development side for him to tap into his raw tools consistently on the mound.”
It could be that Rujano is the type of guy I referenced in the intro, where you’re hoping he’d sign for $200,000-$300,000. And if not, there’s nothing lost except the pick.
Still waiting on the college bats …
* * *
Round 14 (413) – Shane Marshall, RHP (Georgia): A senior who was primarily a catcher at Georgia, but was announced as a pitcher … so I presume this is a conversion situation?
Yup, conversion, and the Cubs might be basing it on the data from just a tiny pool of pitches:
So, once again, even as it’s a college senior position player … this pick amounts to another high-risk, high-reward pitching pick!
* * *
Round 15 (443) – Haydn McGeary, C (Colorado Mesa): It’s not a pitcher! McGeary, 22, put up hilariously absurd and ridiculous numbers in D2, and in the Appalachian League this summer. His .481/.579/1.061 slash line – yes, that last one is his SLUGGING percentage – was the best in D2 this year.
He was sufficiently good that he got the opportunity to transfer to Kentucky where he is currently set to play next year as a senior:
So the question is whether the Cubs can sign him out of that commitment. I hope that they do.
* * *
Round 16 (473) – JP Wheat, RHP (Alabama, High School): A 19-year-old righty who already stands 6’5″, Wheat is currently committed to Georgia Tech. He doesn’t appear on any of the rankings, but with the commitment to a quality baseball school, fair to wonder if he’s a tough sign. Again, could be another one of those day three picks where you say, hey, we can offer you $200K, and if you sign, cool, if not, that’s OK, too.
* * *
Round 17 (503) – Andy Garriola, OF (Old Dominion): Some bits from his ODU bio: 2022: “Second-Team NCBWA All-American … Third-Team ABCA All-American … First-Team All-Region … First-Team All-Conference USA … Conference USA All-Tournament Team … Set the ODU career record with 49 home runs … Finished his career second in school history with 214 career RBIs … Ranks fifth in ODU history with 434 career total bases … Started all 58 games … Made 36 starts in left field and 22 starts in right field … Hit .322 (78-for-242) with 25 home runs, 80 RBIs and scored 57 runs … Hit 18 doubles and had one triple … Finished seventh in the country in RBIs and ninth in home runs.”
Absolutely raked this year, as you might expect for a senior position player getting drafted at this stage: .322/.384/.715, with 25 homers, 18 doubles, and a triple, against just 54 strikeouts. This is among the type of picks I expected today. A college hitter with plenty of on-field success, and at least one carrying tool (power) to give you some upside.
* * *
Round 18 (533) – Garrett Brown, RHP (Georgia): Another Bulldog for the Cubs, and this time it’s a VERY tall righty (6’7″), listed as a senior, who pitched very little in 2020 and in 2022 (injury? surgery? don’t have the details). He was exceedingly wild this year, so this is obviously a scouting play based on perceived development ability (my guess is he’s got some good metrics, and the Cubs want to see if they can add velocity based on his size).
* * *
Round 19 (563) – Brock Blatter, RHP (Montana, High School): What a name. He’s another really tall pitcher, and only just turned 18 this month. Appears to be an Alabama commit after being the top player in Montana (and is a two-sport athlete – plays basketball, too). I expect this is one of those hail mary picks, where the Cubs know he’s almost certain not to sign. But why the heck not try.
Blatter was ranked 407 by Baseball America: “Blatter has had an unusual path as a high school prospect, thanks mostly to being a Montana product. The state doesn’t have high school baseball and because of that, Blatter has been harder to scout than most. He pitched in Arizona and for the Area Code Select Brewers this spring, where he mostly pitched in the upper 80s, but also made his way to MLB’s Draft League during the summer, where he initially struggled with control, but started throwing a fastball in the 91-95 mph range. Blatter is a 6-foot-6, 215-pound righthander with a great frame and solid arm talent now. He has thrown two breaking balls, though the slider is the better of the two and during the Draft League it was a mid-80s pitch with spin in the 2,600-2,700-rpm range. There are a few teams intrigued with Blatter’s size and improving stuff and he would seemingly have plenty of projection remaining as a cold weather arm who hasn’t pitched too frequently. If teams are scared off the profile due to his relative lack of history, Blatter could head to campus at Alabama. He has a chance to be the first high school player drafted out of Montana since righthander Gage Hinsz in 2014.”
* * *
Round 20 (593) – Ke’Shun Collier, OF (Meridian Community College, Mississippi): A junior college outfielder who could be a draft-and-follow for the Cubs. Looks to be a smaller lefty bat who just hits.
That’s a wrap for the 2022 MLB Draft, where the Cubs *clearly* wanted to target high-upside pitching as the priority. I would bet we’re going to see a lot of college position players who didn’t get drafted sign from here, and a number of the pitchers today will not ultimately sign. Still, the incoming group of amateurs from college and high school are going to be overwhelmingly pitchers. More thoughts on the draft coming.