By Todd Johnson
Based on this year’s lack of talent in free agency, the Cubs will not be dipping into those waters to fish out a player to help them on their quest for a second consecutive World Series championship in 2017. As a result, the Cubs will have a first round pick come June next year. And, if Dexter Fowler signs elsewhere (which I hope he does not), the Cubs will gain a compensatory pick after the first round. Based on the number of free agents attached to a qualifying offer, the Cubs could actually be picking in the low to mid-20s and then again in the low 30s. Those would both be excellent spots to select some high quality players.
In the Theo Era…
*The Cubs have selected bats with their first round picks from 2012 to 2015
*3 of those 4 picks played in the World Series
*Only one pitcher drafted in the same time frame has made it to the majors and started, albeit in a single spot start
*Of the players on the 25 man roster, only 8 were originally signed or drafted by the Cubs
*7 of those 8 players were position players with 4 being outfielders
I think each draft in the Theo Era has served a purpose. The 2012 draft rebuilt the minor league system with a plethora of arms and bats. The 2013 draft got the Cubs a second franchise player in Bryant. 2014 saw the surprise selection of Schwarber and several bats who have masterful control of the strike zone (Zagunis and Young) along with some high profile prep arms they paid $1 MM apiece for. 2015 garnered Ian Happ and several experienced college starters and relievers. In 2016, the Cubs went pitching heavy with a mixture of big, tall college arms and experienced closers.
I think 2017 might the most important draft. First, the Cubs could/should have 2 top 35 picks and 4 in the top 100. And with a collection of position players signed through 2020-2021, the Cubs could go with a high school bat with their first pick. He would not be in a rush to make it to the majors quickly. The Cubs could take their time and fully develop the prospect.
When it comes to pitching, McLeod has shown a propensity to take arms that are a bit projectable. Those arms are from both the college and high school levels. Case in point, both Casey Bloomquist and Kyle Miller were unheralded college picks in 2015. Yet, they both played key roles for South Bend’s championship run in 2016. Both are very open to improving their game.
It is clear that McLeod’s predilections for drafting college bats holds true in the first round. I truly think he is open to taking the best player available. Right now is still a little early to project who the Cubs might take with their first two picks. Over the course of the winter and spring seasons, a lot can happen from injuries, going back to school, regression, massive jumps in development, and my favorite, the prospect who prices himself too high and free falls from the top ten to the bottom of the first. Who will be there waiting for them this year with some cold hard cash? That’s right, the Cubs will be.
Two other characteristics McLeod tips his hand on include selecting players who have played for Team USA (at any level) and played in the wooden bat Cape Cod League. Playing against elite competition is a must for McLeod.
This winter, we will have some draft profiles of several prospects listed below. These profiles will occur in “The Weekly” every Sunday. Here are just a few potential picks. Over the next six months I will be checking out reports and videos on each of these players and others who might shoot up into first round material. They are listed in no particular order.
Hunter Greene – RHP/SS/3B – 6’4” 205 Notre Dame High School – Sherman Oaks, CA
Ricardo De La Torre – SS – 6’2” 175 – Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
Justin Farmer – OF – 6’ 195 – Riverview HS – FLA
Brady McConnell – 2B/SS – 6’3” 175 Merritt Island HS – FLA
Jason Gonzalez – SS – 6’2” 175 – Bishop Amat – CA – Committed to Vanderbilt
Alex Lange – RHP – 6’3” 201 – Louisiana State
Seth Romero – LHP – 6’3” 240 – Houston
Royce Lewis – SS- 6’2 188 – J Serra HS – CA – Committed to UC Irvine
Colton Hock – RHP – 6’5” 220 – Stanford
Turner Larkins – RHP – 6’3” 200 – Texas A&M
DL Hall – LHP – 6’2 170 – Warner-Robins, GA