Before I begin looking at players and draft strategy, here are a few quick facts about the Cubs draft:
Number of Picks – 38
First Pick – #104
Pool Money – $2.2 million
15% Overage Limit – $2.3 million
The key fact for me is that the Cubs have only $2.3 million to spend. That’s not a lot. They gave more than that to Ian Happ last year as their first-round pick. Then again, Ryan Williams only cost $10,000 while reliever Craig Brooks only cost $5000. It’s all relative to the value of each player and their own negotiating power. For example, a college senior has little leverage as he can’t go back to school if he doesn’t get the contract he likes. But to be honest, the Cubs are only going to get one or two semi-high priced players, more than likely, from the college ranks and maybe one or two high school players.
1200 kids get selected in each draft, yet only 60%-70% sign. Even fewer high school kids sign. In the modern age, it has become a college player draft. I don’t see things being much different this year, if only based on money.
Since the high school kids are just beginning their seasons, they are a harder read this year. College players, on the other hand, have a lot more data in as they have been playing for 6 weeks. So, a spring break draft special for high school players is a bit more subjective than the college specials that will run the next two days.
There are a few picks I could see the Cubs making a run at in early rounds 3-5.
Bo Bichette – SS – I doubt if he falls this far, but the young high school shortstop would be a great sign at the end of the third round. He is much more athletic than his father and he has a nice lift on his swing which gives him more pop than his pop. He is committed to Arizona State, but if offered late first round money, he might sign.
Taylor Trammell – Trammell (pronounced Trah-mel) is an outfielder with a bit more size st 6’2” with some room to grow. Trammell bats left and throws left and plays the outfield. He is an excellent athlete and was one of the top running backs in the state of Georgia as a senior. He Is not related to Alan Trammell. What I like most about him is that he is the type of player the Cubs seem to covet when it comes to his athletic style of play.
Drew Mendoza – 3B – 6’4” and 195 pounds – I really like that this kid bats left and throws right and also plays shortstop. I think out of all the high school pics, Mendoza might be the one Cubs pick at the end of the third round. He could move up a little bit, but right now he is slated as a fourth or fifth round pick. Of course, they could get him there, too.
Thomas Jones – outfielder – Jones is another big outfielder from South Carolina who is committed to Vanderbilt. He’s 6’3” and 195 pounds. Jones possesses some power, and like Trammell, he was also a football star in high school. The outfielder has a mixture of speed and power which is something the Cubs desire.
Jesus Luzardo – Can you say Dylan Cease redux? The Cubs, for now, can say that they got Cease for a steal in the sixth round of the 2014 MLB Draft because of an elbow injury. News came this month that Luzardo, a potential first rounder, would be having TJS. Before the injury, Luzardo, a left handed pitcher, was touching 97 but was known more for his offspeed stuff and control/command. Luzardo said this about the injury:
“Now that surgery is over with, I am focused on the rehab program and following the exact plan that Dr. Andrews has laid out for me so I can get back on the mound better than ever and continue to chase my dream of becoming a top MLB pitcher in the future.”
I think he fits the profile of a player the Cubs might want to take a risk on at #104.
I didn’t select many pitchers from the high school ranks because I think they would just be too expensive to sign when you only have a pool of $2.3 million. I think the Cubs could select one of these five. If I was a gambling man, I think Mendoza’s versatility is tempting, but Luzardo might be the guy, even if he is injured. High upside trumps all.