When the Cubs select at #104 on Friday afternoon, their selection will most likely be a solid pick. Being that it’s at the end of the third round, the Cubs are still likely to get a very good player. If you look back at who the Cubs selected the past four years, the odds are the selection will have a decent chance to make it to the major leagues.
2012 – Ryan McNeil was selected in the third round coming out of Nipomo, California. He had a mid 90s fastball but after a series of injuries and surgeries, he missed the better part of two years. He reappeared in Boise for the first time in 2014 and was limited due to his recovery. The 2015 season got off to a rough start out of the bullpen in South Bend. He recovered in the second half to post a 2.21 ERA in 19 appearances. His fastball last year increased from a high of 88 at the beginning of the year to 92 in August. At Myrtle Beach this year McNeil has been up-and-down, but he still continuing to improve as a reliever. He got off to a rocky start in April. In May, he made 9 appearances with a 2.00 ERA and struck out 11 in 9 innings. He has yet to allow a run this month in 2 games.
2013 – Jacob Hannemann was a different pick. He was a two-way athlete at BYU and had just completed a Mormon mission. He basically only had one year of college experience when the Cubs drafted him. In the last three summers, you can see why the Cubs selected him, he is an outstanding athlete. He’s one of the best defenders in the Cubs’ system, and he’s shown great speed in the outfield and on the base paths. The problem is his bat has lagged behind. He has had moments in Tennessee that have shown glimpses of being able to hit for average for an extended period of time, but also there’s some power in that bat. At 24 years old, the Cubs are still going to hang onto him just to see where he could max out in the next couple years and if he will be a good fourth or fifth outfielder.
2014 – Mark Zagunis – I think he is the best third round pick the Cubs made in the Theo era and I also think he’s one of the best picks they made overall. He has a commanding eye of the strike zone. His OBP is always well over .400. This year, he’s hitting over .300 and shown a little bit of pop in his is bat. On Wednesday, he was promoted to AAA Iowa. A year ago, I thought he was ready for a move to Tennessee at the All-Star break. I have not watched as many games of his this year at Tennessee as I did last year at Myrtle Beach, but he’s a fun hitter to watch. He has an amazing grasp of what pitches he can hit, what he cannot, as well as what pitches are a strike or a ball. His conversion from a catcher to an outfielder has been pretty seamless. I think within the next year he’s going to be in Chicago or some other major league city.
2015 – Bryan Hudson – The 6’7″ lefty did not pitch much last year after pitching a full year of high school baseball. This year at spring training, he wowed reporters and fans alike with an improved fastball of 90-92 and a curve that actually might be more of a slider. He’s also working on a changeup. He has struggled his last couple of starts in extended spring training. We will get to see more of him next week when the Eugene Emeralds begin playing. The Emeralds are only going to be on TV a couple of series this summer, and you can bet that I’ll be watching when they do.
Being that the big league club is doing so well, this year’s top pick, even though it’s in the third round, does not have a lot of expectations tied to it. Sure, everyone is going to know his name, but no one’s going to expect him to be Bryant, Almora, Schwarber, or Ian Happ. I think with the amount of press the major league club is getting, the expectations for this pic have really been tempered. I’m just hoping that the Cubs can make a selection of a player for whom there is no timetable or rush to get to Chicago. And, I think that might be true of the whole draft class that eventually signs. This pick will get to develop, which leads me to believe, it might be a high school pick.
Tomorrow, I will be back with my prediction of who I think the Cubs will take at #104.