Cubs Central Draft Prep: Elite HS Bats Are a Bit of a Question Mark at #24

By Todd Johnson

In last Monday’s draft update, I took some short looks at some pitchers who might be available including one player to hone in on. This week’s post will examine several high school position players who could be available for the Cubs to take at number 24.

After college bats, the Cubs  could lean HS arms this year, then college pitchers, and then a high school bat. The Cubs have only drafted one HS bat in the first round the past six summers and that was Albert Almora in 2012. This year tends to be trending more towards college bats in the mid-20s, but there will be a few possibilities the Cubs. There is a very high risk in taking a high school hitting prospect, they tend to take a little bit longer to develop.

Here are a few to keep an eye on the next few months.

Triston Casas – The big first baseman probably has the most power potential of any players in the second tier of high school position players. That first tier of elite position players tends to empty out starting in the early teens and the second tier will pick up in the mid 20s.. I’ve seen Casas be selected in a mock draft anywhere from the low 20s to the high 30s. While he does not fit the mode of the type of athlete the Cubs have picked in recent years, the youngster can play and has played at a high-level in multiple experiences. For the Cubs to take him at number 24, they are going to have to think the bat is special as he is a bit limited defensively. Considering the position that he plays, his odds of becoming a Cub quickly are slim.  In the video below, you get a pretty good look at his size and power.

Xavier Edwards – I could see the Cubs gambling on Edwards as he already is a four tool prospect. The only thing lacking in his game is power. He is 5’10”, but he has excellent speed and an excellent arm and could stick at shortstop. I could see the Cubs taking this kid. He might be a bit undersized, but he is an exceptional athlete. It could be hard to talk him out of his commitment to Vanderbilt. Being able to switch hit at this early of an age is also a major plus.

Joe Gray, Jr. – He might be a reach, but he is a player who has the potential to be a five tool player. Right now, he is not. I will let MLB Pipeline give you his tell of his tape:

Gray has two loud tools in his raw power and arm strength. With his lightning-fast bat and his strength, he can hammer balls out of the park to all fields from the right side of the plate. The Mississippi recruit might have the best arm among 2018 high school position players, having been clocked at 98 mph from the outfield at the Perfect Game National showcase last June, though his accuracy sometimes leaves something to be desired.

2018 Miss. OF Joe Gray has three bombs this season. Here’s one of them. Destroyed. #mlbdraft

Mike Siani is a left-handed outfielder/pitcher from Pennsylvania whose idol is Mike Trout. On most boards, he is usually mid 30s to upper 40s. He might be one of those kids who rises up the boards as it gets warmer in May and early June. An outstanding defender, he is currently committed to the University of Virginia. I have gotten a really good look at him the past two weeks. What makes Siani stand out above the other prospects is that he is in incredible athlete. The more I watched him play, the more I liked him.

Right now, I am not really sold on any these kids being ready to be picked at #24. They come across as early second round picks, which is still good value. I like these four in some form or fashion, but there are better values in the draft. Casas and Edwards stick out from other position players in this tier, but even they need polished up a bit to sneak into the first round. Right now, the best value for the Cubs still is a college bat, then a college arm or a high school pitcher would be next.


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