A Proposition at #9: Take a Gamble on a Top of the Rotation Type Arm

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Editor’s Note: Parts of this post appeared on Cubs Insider in a different post focusing on four players the Cubs might target at #9.

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“It’s not as clear-cut at the top of the Draft this year. Some of the higher-profile talents got injured, and it’s just one of those Draft classes that’s a little bit all over the place, which makes it more difficult, but also creates opportunity.“

Trying to decipher what the Cubs, or any organization for that matter, plan on doing in next week’s MLB Draft is a useless task. This will be the fourth draft for Epstein and McLeod; which to date has only produced one major league player – Kris Bryant.

However, the duo rebuilt the farm system of the Cubs from a pile of rubble through the draft, international signings, and trades into the top system in the majors. It has not always been perfect (2012, 2013, 2014), but the Cubs are beginning to produce stars.

In the Cubs’ top 30 prospect list, Epstein and McLeod drafted 17 of the 30, 3 were drafted by previous GM Jim Hendry (Jokisch, Vogelbach, and Lockhart), 5 were acquired in trades by Theo (McKinney, Caratini, Villanueva, Edwards, and Black), and 3 were international free agents Theo signed (Torres, Jimenez, and Tseng) with 2 IFAs coming via Hendry (Candelario and Daury Torrez).

This year’s draft is another chance to get a load of talent.  The Cubs select ninth behind the White Sox and then don’t have a second pick until the 47th pick, which is after two compensation rounds. However, no one has a clue who the Cubs might pick at #9. The Cubs said they have four names that they are confident will be there. I have some idea who they might get, but with the volatility of players rising, falling, rising, and falling again, it’s a little bit psychotic trying to pinpoint who the Cubs MIGHT take. 

I have heard names that the Cubs like in Tyler Jay, Jon Harris, Carson Fullmer, Daz Cameron, Dillon Tate, and Garrett Whitley. Let me make an argument here…The Cubs should screw the pooch and take a guy they can save a little money on. That way, in this deep draft, they could spend 3X as much later. Why pay $3 million for a guy who is just as good as a guy who might get taken at #37. Give the #37, who you like a lot but doesn’t have as high a floor,  $2 million, and spend the other million it in rounds 6-10 to get more high quality depth.

To me, this makes all the sense in the world.

Who is that guy? nix 2015 draft
The one player I read more and more about that interests me for an under slot first round pick is Jacob Nix . It would be a huge shock, but the Cubs could sign him to a nice deal where they could use the money they save on Nix to use later in the draft and still have a potential top of the rotation of starter (a 2 or a 3).

Nix can pop the mitt big time. And physically, he continues to get bigger and stronger at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds. He is much more advanced than last year. He has a more accurate curveball, a cleaner changeup, and bumped his fastball to the mid to upper 90s (95-97).  He will likely not be there in the second round if the Cubs don’t take him in the first. Baseball America has him ranked at 37 and MLB.com has him at 39.

Here is what Baseball America said about Nix:

He’s also worked to more consistently repeat his delivery, which has helped his command. Listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Nix has an ideal pitcher’s frame and still has plenty of upside, though there are some medical concerns due to a past back surgery.

I think every pitcher has concerns. Whether it is Fullmer, Jay, Norris, or Nix, they are imperfect because of past routines. I think that the Cubs strength to squashing those concerns in pitching coordinator Derek Johnson.

In the end, I think the odds of the Cubs getting Nix are between slim and none. But the strategy to pick a high value target at a valued price might pay off later in the draft.


I also ran across this tweet from Isiah Gilliam on Tuesday:

The Cubs drafted Gilliam last year in the 23rd round and Gilliam chose to go to Chipola Junior College.  Some good will was built up in that Although the Cubs can’t officially sign him until they draft him again, it is clear to me that Isiah is going to Chicago for a workout. I expect them to draft him in either the third or fourth round on Tuesday.

I cannot wait for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday!

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2 thoughts on “A Proposition at #9: Take a Gamble on a Top of the Rotation Type Arm

    Gary said:
    June 4, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    They could definitely use a top of the rotation starting pitcher if one is available at #9. After all, how many left fielders do they need? They already have Bryant, Schwarber, Billy McKinney and perhaps others.

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      R.T. Johnson responded:
      June 5, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      Good points, Gary! While they do have many position players, there is more value in getting a better batter than pitcher at the top of the draft. However, this year, the bats are just not there. I say gamble on an arm and don’t spend a lot of the draft pool money getting one.

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