My Fall Draft Preview: Looks Like a Pitcher at #9…As of Today

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I bought my tickets to the Cubs Convention last Saturday. I am so excited  that I have not been able to stop thinking about going for the past ten months! I am looking forward to this convention as I think there will be quite the buzz as the Cubs look to compete for the National League Central Division title in 2015. There are a few additions to be made but I hope that they are added by the convention. Also last weekend, I started looking at who the Cubs might take in the draft in 2015. It will be the last year (I hope) that the Cubs will be in the bottom half of the draft for a long time.

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The Cubs pick ninth, right behind the White Sox again. The thing to remember about the draft is that a lot can change between now, the Cubs Convention, and the draft as players rise and fall and get injured. The baseball draft is a developmental draft and it often takes years for the player to arrive in the major leagues. But here are some things I have noticed the past few years in the Cubs drafting procedures:

  1. They always take who they think is the best athlete in the first round
  2. Pitching is much more difficult to project
  3. When in doubt, go with the best bat
  4. When in doubt, select an athlete who can project to several positions
  5. Load up on pitching later
  6. Draft a player who is a baseball rat and has a desire to improve everyday

As of now, there is no consensus top pick. Michael Matuella of Duke, Brendan Rogers, and Brady Aiken have been seen on some mock draft boards at the top. But after those three, a player could go anywhere from 4 to 24. It will shake itself out over the next eight months.


So with those things in mind, who will be available for the Cubs to select at #9 in the first round and #9 in the second round?

College Hitters

Alex Bregman – SS – LSU – I think he might be the most complete college player and he could play 2B and 3B as well. Great makeup, but the power is just not there yet. He is a top 5 guy right now.

Dansby Swanson – SS – Vanderbilt – every time I saw him play it was like watching Darwin Barney but he could hit. He doesn’t have the power I think the Cubs are looking for in the first pick. He’s a winner, just not the type of bat the Cubs want.

D.J. Stewart – OF/DH –Florida State – I think if you want someone that reminds you of Kyle Schwarber, here you go. At 6’ and 230-240 pounds, Stewart has the body type down as well as the hit tool is close. I don’t think he is the athlete Schwarber is though.

Gio Brusa – OF – Pacific – He had a good summer in the Cape Cod league and is shooting up many draft boards. At 6’3” and 190 pounds, he hit six HRs this summer, but he also struck out a lot.

Ian Happ – 2B/OF – Cincinnati – He has good power for a second baseman but not for an outfielder. If he is picked in the first round, he has to stay in the infield.

Richie Martin – SS – Florida – He had a great summer at the Cape. He hit .364 in the wood bat league and showed that he has the speed, arm, and tools to stay at the position in the majors. Not much power as he is a gap to gap hitter.


High School Bats

Daz Cameron – OF – A year ago, he might have been the first pick in the draft. Now, he is starting to slip as his game has not shown much improvement in the summer showcases. As of today, he will probably go top ten just on his lineage (his dad is former MLB player Mike Cameron), basic skills, and 2013 season.

Kyle Tucker – OF – At 6’4” he could be the Cubs’ pick. He has a sweet swing, has some projection on his body, great makeup, and hits from the left side. He is just not that dynamic. He is, however, solid, a player you could plug in everyday and one that will work very hard to improve. He reminds me of Billy McKinney with more power.

Chris Betts – C – at 6’2” 220 pounds, he has drawn comparisons to Brian McCann. He has good power and a plus arm behind the plate.

Jahmai Jones – OF – the toolsy outfielder has a solid 6’ and 210 pound frame and is improving from year to year. He might be more of a second or third round pick.

Kyler Murray – SS – the Texas HS football star is 6’1” and 180 pounds and is a great, great athlete. The problem is he has not committed to what he wants to do. He might be the best athlete in the whole draft.

Will Corn – C/1B – The Kirkland, Illinois native never gets pitched to in high school. Playing at tiny Hiawatha High School (enrollment 165), the 6’2” 220” left-handed hitter has shown his stuff in summer leagues playing in the suburbs and across the country. He does not have much speed, but he has power in spades. His school built a netting fence over the right field wall because he kept putting holes in the greenhouse just beyond the wall. He would likely move to 1B or DH as a pro. He does finish a little high ala Jim Edmonds so he may not hit for average as much. He committed to Southern Illinois University first but later switched to Parkland JC near Champaign on a full ride. Lives to play the game.


Junior College

Isaiah Gilliam – 1B/OF – The Cubs selected him last year and I would like to see him drafted again. The switch hitter will be going to Junior College

Mac Marshall – P – Marshall might be available in the 3-4 rounds. Sitting anywhere from 86-94, the lefty needs to develop some consistency.


College Pitchers

Kyle Funkhouser – RHP – Louisville – Great makeup, power arm. I love him!

My top pick at #9 Kyle Funkhouser Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
My top pick at #9 Kyle Funkhouser
Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Walker Buehler – RHP – Vanderbilt – Also very good, but I don’t think he makes it to #9, let alone 4. He is the best right hander in the draft to me. But, stranger things have happened. Ask Jeff Hoffman and Brady Aiken.

Carson Fullmer – RHP – Vanderbilt – He is a max effort undersized guy. He reminds me of a right handed Billy Wagner. However, his small frame makes him a reliever at the MLB level.

Kyle Cody – RHP – Kentucky – At 6’6”, he is getting better every year. I like what I have seen and I could see the Cubs going with him.

Nathan Kirby – LHP – Virginia. He is one of my favorite college pitchers. I don’t think the Cubs take him though, but I think he is the best of the players who should be there at 9, including the hitters.

Ryan Perez – BHP – Judson – That’s right, this guy pitches with both hands and throws both over 90 mph!

Phil Bickford – RHP – I doubt if he is there for the Cubs at 9 either. He is bit max effort guy for me, too.

Cody Ponce – The 6’6 RHP from Cal Poly Pomona had a great summer at the Cape. He throws 94-97 which was up 3-4 mph from the spring.

Tyler Jay – LHP – Illinois – One of two Illinois pitchers on this list, he had a good summer in the Cape. He might be there in the second round.

Mariano Rivera, Jr. – RHP – Iona – He appears to be a late bloomer like his father. He is reportedly hitting 92-94 now after being drafted when he was throwing 89-90.

Justin Jacome – the tall lefty throws a “low effort” four pitches and misses lots of bats despite never topping 90 mph. could be a late round pick on day three.

Kevin Duchene – LHP – Illinois – He had a great summer on the Cape winning big games in the playoffs. He could continue to move up draft boards. He has a plus change to go along with a power curve and a fast ball around 90.


High School Arms

Justin Hooper – The 6’6” lefty dazzled some at summer showcase but lacks consistency from outing to outing because of poor command. However, when you can hit 97 mph, you can hit 97 mph, even at 17. He will likely go top fifteen.

Ashe Russell – The Notre Dame Commit can get it up to 95 and has a solid curve and plus change. I could see the Cubs taking him.

Mike Nikorak – He can touch 97 with his fastball and he can touch 88. He has not figured out how to harness it consistently. At 6’4” and 195 pounds, he projects to get a little bigger. Committed to Alabama.

Kolby Allard – at 6’0” and 165 pounds, the little lefty throws in the low 90s and has some room to fill out yet.

Cole Sands -Brother of current Cubs prospect Carson Sands. Likely, Cole will go much later on the third day.


Who Do I Like Today?

Round 1: None of the college hitters knock me out enough to select one in the first round, not even DJ Stewart. Two high school players intrigue me – Murray and Tucker – for different reasons mentioned above. When it comes to the arms, I like several of the college pitchers. Funkhouser is first on my list out of all the picks on the board. He is closely followed by Cody and Kirby. Ponce and Perez could be had in the second and third round if the Cubs don’t select my other favorite player on the board, Isaiah Gilliam. The Illinois pitchers are likely to keep improving as they have throughout their college careers. They might even sneak up into the first round.

So my board at #9 goes like this

  1. Kyle Funkhouser – RHP – Louisville
  2. Kyle Cody – RHP – Kentucky
  3. However, should Murray commit himself to baseball, he is the type of athlete the Cubs love, just love.
  4. Kyle Tucker – Nice hit and power profile, something the Cubs covet
  5. Ashe Russell – RHP – Good projectibility and he is not finished growing.

Later Rounds – Isaiah Gilliam, Mac Marshall, Jay, Perez, Duchene, and Jahmai Jones are names who could go on day two while Cole Sands and Will Corn could be day three guys.

Other names who could surprise next spring:

Brent Lilek, Donny Everett, Greyson Long, James Kaprelian, Jake Lemoine, Isaiah Cody, Marc Brakeman, Nick Plummer, Skye Bolt, Josh Naylor, Doak Dozier, Ryan Mountcastle, and Trenton Clark*.

*My sleeper pick for later rounds

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2 thoughts on “My Fall Draft Preview: Looks Like a Pitcher at #9…As of Today

    Brett L said:
    November 26, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Tyler Jay ***LHP*** please correct….. been following him for years should go at the 9 spot. Great pick for the Cubs….

    Like

      R.T. Johnson responded:
      November 26, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      Both Jay and Duchene should be excellent pros.

      Like

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