2019 Draft Prep: Will the 2nd Mesa Team Affect Draft Strategy?

By Todd Johnson

In 2018, the Cubs signed 32/42 players they selected in the MLB Draft. That is a high in the Theo era. Come 2019, that high signing rate should continue. One reason is that the Cubs have a finite amount of money with a hard cap to spend in international free agency. The Cubs now look to be going for quality over quantity in that aspect of talent acquisition. The second reason is that the Cubs now have a second team in the Arizona Rookie League where those additional draft picks can begin their careers.

In 2016, the Cubs had 38 picks and signed 24. At the time, the Cubs were bulking up on pitchers. And, most of those players came from the college ranks. Here is a breakdown of where those 24 came from:
4 Year College – 21
Jr. College – 2
HS – 1
In 2017, the Cubs selected 41 players. The Cubs signed 29 of them, mostly pitchers again.
4 Year Colleges – 23
Jr. College – 3 (Little, Light, Remy)
HS – 3 (Estrada, Velazquez, Vazquez).

Last year’s draft results were a bit different
4 Year College – 22
Jr. College – 3 (Allen, Stone, Americaan)
HS – 5 (Roederer, Davis, Franklin, Pablon, Pagan)
The Cubs also signed several independent league players and non-drafted free agents including Garrett Kelly, Ryan Lawlor, Grant Fennell, and Brandon Knight.

Going from 3 younger picks in 2016 to 8 in 2018 may not seem like a big jump, it is. And that trend should continue in 2019.

While Albert Almora remains the only high schooler taken in the first round during the Theo era, the Cubs went with college bats at the top of the draft until the last two years. In 2017, the Cubs took pitchers Brendon Little and Alex Lange in 2017’s first round and took high schoolers Cole Roederer and Brennen Davis in last year’s second round (technically) .

As McLeod discussed at the Convention and on WSCR 670 the Score, the Cubs are doing things differently in the minors are undergoing a bit of a change. While McLeod was mainly referring to pitching, having a second team in the Arizona Rookie League opens up a place for more prospects to get a chance to play. As a result, the type of players who play in the AZL are not your typical four-year college draft picks.

When the Cubs draft a player, negotiations take place and those that sign go to Mesa for their physical and to be indoctrinated in “The Cubs Way.” Some get in a couple of games in Arizona in Rookie League but almost all the college draft picks soon find their way to Eugene. The type of player that then makes up the two rookie league team in Mesa tends to be one of four players: a juco guy, a high school pick, an international veteran who is usually 19-20, or the young elite international signee who is just 17.

By creating that second team, the Cubs are now giving younger players from markets and draft ages they shunned in previous years. By needing to fill up that second squad, the Cubs are going to draft players that they can develop at Mesa, whether they are from a juco team or a high schooler. Some may need to play two years there, but that’s OK.

As a result of going into other markets, the Cubs may inadvertently change who they could now take at the top of the draft. I used to expect the Cubs to draft college bats at the top of the draft. I am not so sure anymore. The Cubs are showing a willingness to take players from Puerto Rican academies in back-to-back drafts along with the juco and high school prospects. One such player who is creeping up towards the Cubs’ position at #27 is Matthew Lugo, a still growing shortstop from the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy.

Now with that second squad set in stone in Arizona, the Cubs might be changing how they do a lot of things this summer.

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2019 Draft Prep – A Few Cub Re-Drafts to Watch for This Spring

By Todd Johnson

For some reason, on Friday night, I decided to go down a draft rabbit hole. What I thought would be like a 10 minute trip on the Internet turned into 2.5 hours. I did a lot of research about certain prospects who are eligible to be drafted this year. However, most of the time was spent finding out what some players the Cubs previously drafted but did not sign are doing now.

Until 2007, a baseball club could draft a guy and not sign them. The team then retained their rights for a year. It was called a “draft and follow.” The Cubs have done something similar the past few years. They have re-drafted several players after not signing them the first time they selected them. The Cubs have to have the player’s permission to re-draft them, but it’s an interesting strategy.

A club can take a guy in the late rounds and begin to build a relationship with the player over the course of their college career and re-draft them two or three years later. Delvin Zinn is one guy they took in 2015 and signed in 2016. Jake Slaughter is another pick the Cubs took in 2016 and were able to take him again in 2018 and signed him. 

This year, the Cubs can go as far back as 2015 to pick someone who they did not sign. There are a lot of interesting names and prospects the Cubs could re-draft this summer if those players have good springs. In the list below, I listed the prospects as a hyperlink to their college bio page or their Baseball Cube page.

Not everyone the Cubs took that they didn’t sign is listed here as some were actually drafted again by other teams. For example, DJ Peters was taken by the Dodgers and Daniel Poncedeleon was taken by the Cardinals. Those are just two of many picks taken by other clubs.

High Interest Re-draft
Mitchell Parker – The 6’4” lefty is playing juco ball at San Jacinto this year. The 2018 draftee almost signed last summer before picking college over the Cubs. He’s made one start so far. He went 4.2 IP and gave up 1 run for an ERA of 1.93. But most impressive were his 7 Ks.

Darius Vines – The Cubs took Vines in 2016. The former two sport and two-way all-star went to two juco schools and is now at CSU-Bakersfield. An exceptional athlete, Vines is focusing just on pitching now. The shortstop gig appears to be over.

Brenden Heiss – The pitcher from Jacobs H.S. is now at Florida Gulf Coast after trying a four year school as a Freshman at Arkansas. As a sophomore, he did very well last year at John A. Logan in southern Illinois. Now at FGU, he debuts next month. If he gets his command down, he could be day 2 pick…easy. He had 80 Ks in 56 IP (12.78/9 IP ) last year with a 2.24 ERA. 

Dante BiasiWhen the Cubs took Biasi in 2016, he was getting ready to have TJS. The kid from Joe Maddon’s hometown of Hazelton is now a redshirt sophomore at Penn State. It will be interesting to see how does a full year after coming back from TJS. He still has two years of eligibility left, but he is draft eligible this year.

Layne Looney – The Cubs took Looney last year and he looked like a solid pick and sign for a day 3 closer. Instead, Looney returned to Richmond for his senior season as their closer. With his experience and track record, his re-drafting would be a no brainer.

Medium Interest for Re-Drafting
Rian Bassett – I distinctly remember finding only a basketball video on him on draft day in 2016. Now, Bassett, who turns 24 this summer, will be graduating from Lewis and Clark this spring. He has good size with a low mileage since he’s only been concentrating on baseball for just 2 full years.

Cody Hawken – He’s a pretty good sized boy at 6’5 and 2015 lbs that the Cubs took in 2016 who attended Portland instead. He has pretty good power. Now a senior, I will be watching to see how much that power plays out this spring. He had 10 HRs with .951 OPS as a junior.

Davis Daniel – He should be a full-on starter at Auburn this year. Now a junior, Davis will be pitching in college baseball’s best conference.

A.J. Block – He’s still developing, but he’s had his moments in college. He only started 5 games last year at Washington State. He should start plenty this year as a junior. He has a prototypical starter’s body at 6’5” and 220 lbs. and he slings from the left side of the rubber.

Jared PadgettThe Cubs took him in 2015 out of high school and he’s had a long and winding road. He went to Mississippi State for one year and had TJS and missed his sophomore season. He reappeared at Chipola JC in Florida and won a national championship last spring. Then he pitched against Japan last summer and was thought to be headed to Kansas as a redshirt junior. I checked and he’s not on that roster. He has all the potential in the world. Now, if I could only find him. His Twitter page doesn’t reveal much either.

Wait and Watch
Davis Moore – He is a junior pitcher at Fresno State.
Ryan Kreidler – He’s struggled at the plate over two years for the UCLA Bruins. Who knows, he could breakout in 2019.
D.J. Roberts – He pitched as freshman in 2017 for USF and then dropped off the face of the Earth last year.

Cubs Central 2019 Draft Primer – A Few Names to Watch This Spring

By Todd Johnson


Trying to predict what the Cubs are going to do at the back of the first round is a lot harder than trying to predict what the Cubs are going to do at the front of the round. The college baseball season is getting ready to crank up and with it comes predictions for who the Cubs could take in the 2019 MLB draft.

Mock drafts  are somewhat of a futile effort as things change greatly over five months. However, the mocks and rankings give you an idea of who might be available come June. Lots of players are going to rise and fall based on performance and injuries. I tend to find it more interesting to look back at the January list and compare it to lists from the days before the actual draft.

For today’s primer preview, I looked at five mock drafts/rankings. Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, and Fangraphs were the most prominent names, but that doesn’t mean they are going to be the most reliable. I also looked at My MLB Draft and Draft Site, which actually has a four round draft. Draft Site gives me a lot of names to investigate. Included at the end of the second round was none other than Grae Kessinger, a SS from Mississippi and the grandson of 60s/70s Cub SS Don Kessinger.

The Cubs are going to get a very good bat at number 27. Whether that’s a college bat or a high school bat, we will just have to wait. This is not a good year for pitching at either the high school or college level. It’s all about the bat this year and the Cubs should be able to get two good ones, depending upon if they have a second round pick.

The five big names thrown out there for the Cubs and #27 right now are…


Michael Busch – 1B – UNC (Draft Site)
Big power bat who should rise as the year goes on. He should easily take over spots now held by HS prospects. He’s not big, but he is potent.

Kameron Misner – OF – Missouri (Baseball America)
Big lefty bat. Built like a rock. Views on him range from the 10s to the late 60s. That’s a big deviation.

Brett Baty – 3B – High School – Lake Travis, Texas (My MLB Draft)
He would be the perfect pick but with his size and power profile, the 6’3” left handed bat could be every team’s dream.

Rece Hinds -3B – LSU Commit (Fangraphs ranked at #27)
At 6’4” and 210 pounds with 5 tools, he should be a top ten pick when the draft rolls around. Huge power potential. Check out these dingers.

Maurice Hampton – OF – Memphis, Committed to LSU as well (MLB Pipeline ranked #27)
A two-sport athlete, he is bound and determined to play football and baseball at LSU. More than likely, he goes to college. His top trait is his athleticism, not so much his power as he is only 6’0” and 195 lbs.

Do I Have a Guy This Year?
Last year, I picked Alec Bohm of Wichita State early on. He went to Philadelphia at #3. For the night of the draft, I picked Trevor Larnach of Oregon State. He went at #20 to the Twins.

This year…It’s way too early to pick a front runner for the Cubs. This spring, however, two names that I definitely will be checking out are OFs JJ Bleday of Vanderbilt and Kyle Stowers of Stanford. Both profile as big hitters to all fields. In addition, 1B Mike Toglia of UCLA drips of being the prototypical 6’5″ left handed hitter with big power. Another possibility is 3B Drew Mendoza. He’s under performed but he is a talented kid from Florida State who is worth watching, too. I could keep going, but I will wait. If any of the aforementioned players have a good spring, they could all rise into the top 15 easily.

Whomever the Cubs select in 2019 basically has 2-3 years to get himself ready to play every day in the majors by the summer of 2021 at the earliest, or the spring of 2022 at the latest. Most of the Cubs position players will be free agents in that time period. The Cubs could be willing to go with a prep bat this year as most of the big time college hitters will be gone by the end of the first round.

Back in the Pack…
There’s always someone that catches my eye.

This year, that prospect is outfielder Michael Barefoot. He’s definitely not first round material, but he does check a lot of boxes of the type of hitter the Cubs like. He had a .484 OBP as a redshirt sophomore for Campbell University in the Big South Conference where he was the league MVP. He did play in the Cape last summer hitting .379 with a .474 OBP. He was also named the Pat Sorenti MVP of the Cape Cod League along with being the batting champion. He’s not blessed with speed at all but he is a high motor guy who goes all out all the time. It should be interesting to see if he rises some this spring. More than likely, he’s a day two kind of player as he does have one year of eligibility left.

A New Top 21 List Arrives: 21 Things Affecting the List

By Todd Johnson

Redoing my Top 21 list over the past week might have been thee hardest list to evaluate. You would think that the list would not change much in just a two month span.

Well, a lot of things happened since the end of March.
1. Jose Albertos’ release point deteriorated. Once he gets things figured out, he will be back quickly and impressively. It’s just a matter of time.
2. Duane Underwood looked studly at times and not so much at other times. He needs to find some sense of consistency from start to start.
3. Thomas Hatch has been very consistent every outing. It should not be long before he finds his way to Iowa. Problem is, there is no real spot yet.
4. Nelson Velazquez debuted at South Bend this year and struggled. He is striking out at a high rate and has yet to show much power beyond BP.
5. Dillon Maples struggled at Iowa in April and early May after not making the big league club. He now seems to be much better the past three weeks. He’s allowed just 1 ER since the middle of May and only 3 BBs in his last 7 innings. He’s close.


6. David Bote went to Chicago and did very well in a utility role. He has supplanted himself as the go-to-guy position player now.
7. Wladimir Galindo struggled, was injured, struggled some more, and then caught fire.
8. Aramis Ademan looks overmatched most nights at Myrtle Beach. The Pelicans have started moving him up and down the batting order to try something different. Then again, he’s just 19 and at high A.
9. Last year’s pitching class is killing it. From Lange to Thompson to Lacy to Uelmen to Abbott, the Cubs caught a deep class.
10. No hitter was really dominant in the first two months of 2018.


11. Two months of unexpected performances from Matt Swarmer and Jhonny Pereda might constitute breakout seasons, but does not mean they should be on a prospect list? They are very close, however.
12. Brady Clark is living up to my hype of him from the past two seasons.
13. Chesny Young looks like Chesny Young of 2016. You know, the guy who falls out of bed and laces a single right Chesny Young. I like 2016 Chesny  a lot.
14. If Connor Myers can hit a little, his profile totally changes as he is a plus-plus defender and defender. Being able to hit 260-270 could carry him to the majors with his other skills being so predominant.
15. Miguel Amaya is developing into a power hitter quickly. Every at bat is becoming must see MiLB.TV.

16. Top five international pick pitcher Richard Gallardo should slide into the list once he officially signs on July 2. The question is for me, “Where do you put a 16-year-old kid that never has never thrown a pitch in professional baseball and won’t until next June?”
17. The Cubs just selected five guys in the top 100 picks of the draft. However, it is a tenth round pick I look forward to in the batter’s box the most in Luke Reynolds.
18. Jared Young has been blistering the ball lately. He started off strong, got hurt, and it took a couple weeks for him to heat back up?
19. Jason Vosler was not good for six weeks and now looks to be ready to move on actaually on pace to hit 25+ HRs this year.
20. DJ Wilson has vanished on the DL.

21. And Eugene and Mesa begin in a week. There we will get a better look at some former DSL guys, Jeremiah Estrada, and s=most of this year’s draft class.

After some discussion with some of my friends on these 21 topics and more, online and in the real world, I decided just a few changes would be in order. However, some of those changes are pretty powerful..

Top 21 List as of June 8, 2018.

Day 3 Draft Q and A – Did the Cubs Change Their System Much Today?

By Todd Johnson

  

On day three of the draft, the Cubs loaded up on some possible pitchers in rounds 11-20 by taking 7 of their first ten picks, all college arms. From 21-30, the Cubs went with a lot of college senior position players, 6 in fact. From 31-40, the Cubs, as usual took some high school players, many of whom will likely not sign, but a couple of juco players could.

Earlier in the day, I had a few questions about how the day would play out. Let’s see how the Cubs answered them.

1. Will the Cubs continue to have a somewhat balanced approach of taking a mixture of hitters and pitchers?

The Cubs wound up taking 24 position players and only 18 pitchers. However, it will be more interesting to see the totals once everyone signs. I imagine it will be close to 50/50.

2. Will the Cubs still be selecting a clear majority of college players again? 

Only 13 high school players were taken and 4 of those were in the top 13. 10 college seniors were mostly taken in the 20s and early 30s this year. That should create for an interesting mix in the system the next couple of years as the rosters in the lower parts of the system have a large mix of young, Latin players who could use some guidance.

3. Will the Cubs take a chance on selecting one of the top prep players like Cole Wilcox or Kumar Rocker? 

The Cubs did select a few HS players late like Julian Bond, Chase Hanson, Parker Mitchell, and Tyler Ras, all well-thought of prepsters with college commits. Something would have to go wrong with Davis and/or Roederer to not sign. However, the Cubs wouldn’t take either in the second round if they thought they couldn’t sign them.

4. The Cubs have certain needs in the MiLB system. Will they draft to those needs or take the best player available? They are in need of shortstops who can field and left handed starters and relievers. 

The Cubs did go after a lot of needs today including the aforementioned positions. The Cubs just today took six outfielders, three catchers, two 2B, and six shortstops. The surprise of the day came when the Cubs took an actual 1B, their first since 2012 in Tyler Durna from UCSD. The first two days, they a 2B, a SS, a 3B, and four OFs. I’ll let you add the two subsets together. In all, that beefs up the system.

5. How many of these will realistically sign? In the Theo Era, the CUbs usually sign around 25, +/- 2 or 3. Last year was aberration as they inked 29 to contracts.

The Cubs have some change to spend this year thanks to the two compensation picks. And with the large numbers of college seniors, they could actually sign 30, 31, or 32. Of their 11 HS picks, 4 were picked in the top 13. That bodes well for a high signing number.

6. And when they do sign, does that second Mesa team become the staging area for them? 

While all signees will go to Mesa for an orientation into “The Cub Way,” most of the the college signees will end up in Eugene. A few college guys (Hoerner, Reynolds, could make it to South Bend, but most of the pitchers will be used sparingly the rest of the season after already pitching a full season from March through May.

7. How did the System Change?

It is going to be a couple of years before we see the results of that. The Cubs scouting department took the long-term view and took prospects they think they can work with and develop. Of their 42 picks, there were was only 1 top 100 draft prospect despite having 5 top 100 picks. Jason McLeod is gambling on the system to develop the prospects they sign into guys that help the system.

For now, though, the system got a little deeper, a little younger. Most of the first 20 picks have one unique talent that they can polish up and help propel through the organization.

In eight days, Eugene and Mesa begin their seasons. We shall see who is there and how they do very quickly.

Day 3: Live Blogging the Final Day of the 2018 Draft

By Todd Johnson

8:10 – Everything is done and updated. I am going to collapse for a bit.

6:15 PM

The draft is over but I will be filling in the profiles as the night goes on. Lots of nice picks today. Once I am done with that, I will start breaking down and analyzing what the Cubs accomplished with today’s selections.

40th Round – Itamar Steiner  – IF – Niles North – Skokie, Il – Throws Right

His father was killed in a bus crash in Uganda a few years ago. His father was a documentary film maker. Nice that the Cubs drafted him.

39th Round: Pierson Gibis – C – Wauconda HS, Wauconda, IL – 6′ 175 lbs. Bats Left and Throws Right

Doubt he signs, but Gibis is a pediatric cancer survivor.

38th Round: Chase Hanson – OF – Edison HS Huntington,  Beach HS – 6’3″ 170 lbs. Bats and throws Right

The UNLV commit will likely attend college. He has a nice upper frame to hang some more weight on and add some power.

37th  Round: Henry Anthony Villar – SS – Westminster Christian HS in Miami – 5’11” 170 lbs. Bats Left. Throws Right

5:11 PM: 36th Round: Jacob Campbell – C – Craig HS, Janesville, Wisconsin – 6′ 200 lbs. Bats and Throws Right

He is committed to play at Illinois in the fall. Likely goes to school, but the Cubs are his favorite team.

35th Round: Edmond Americaan – OF – Chipola College – 6’1″ 170 lbs. Bats and Throws Left

He hit .413 with a .490 for the Junior College powerhouse. He’s still growing. I don’t know if he going to sign. I am still trying to find if he is going to a 4 year school yet.

4: 33 The Internet is fixed and the cards are all caught up on Twitter. I will begin catchin up on the last 7 or 8 picks.

34th Round: Miguel Pabon – SS – Leadership Christian Academy – 6′ 165 lbs.

Originally committed to Broward College. He could be a sneaky sign. Check out his skills below.

33rd Round: 

Tyler Ras – RHP – MIddletown, NJ – 6’4″ 200 lbs.

Committed to Alabama.

32nd Round: Jack Patterson – LHP – Bryant University – 6′ 210 lbs.

He struck out 101 in 82 innings as a senior. He’s got a solid body. He did miss almost two seasons. He was the  Northeast Conference Pitcher of the Year and had one complete-game shutout and K’d 10 batters 4 times this year. Interesting selection.

31st Round: Daniel Clayton – 2B – Jacksonville State – 5’7″ 160 lbs. Bats and Throws Right

He hit .325 as a senior. He also had a nice OBP at .397. Not big, could be a nice system guy who could handle a stick.

30th Round: Drew Wharton –  OF – Clemson – 6’3″ 190 lbs. Bats and Throws Right

He didn’t see much playing time in his four years until this year when he cranked 8 out of the ballpark. he hit .245 with a .325 OBP.

29th Round: Levi Jordan – SS – U of Washington – 5’8″ 170 lbs. Bats and Throws Right

A four-year senior, he saw a huge uptick in power this year going from 1 to 8. Hit .277 for four years as a Huskie.

28th Round: Parker Mitchell – LHP – Manzano HS, Albuquerque, NM – 6’3″ 190 lbs.

27th Round: Niels Stone – RHP – Indian River State College – 6’1″ 190 lbs.

A Freshman, he had a 7.42 K/9 and  he hit 91 to 94 consistently, sometimes getting it up to 97. Originally, he committed to Florida Gulf Coast before transferring to Indian State.

2:45 PM 26th round: Julian Boyd – OF – Saint John Bosco HS – 5’10” 143 lbs. Bats and Throws Left

He’s a former two sport athlete who committed to play baseball at the University of Nevada Reno.

And this pick signals the beginning of the end. The Cubs usually draft several high school picks the rest of the way in order to have some insurance if other picks don’t sign in the top 10. And also, it doesn’t hurt to build a relationship with that player as we saw with Jake Slaughter from LSU. Boyd

2:35 25th Round: Dalton Hurd – OF – Seattle University – 5’9″ 180 lbs. Bats and Throws Right

He hit for average all four years but saw a power uptick his senior year. Hit .309 last spring with 8 HRs.

2:20 24th Round: Blake Whitney – RHP – South Carolina Upstate – 6’3″ and 185 lbs

I will let you guess what Whitney can do… That’s right, throw strikes. The 4 year starter had a 2.81 ERA in 13 starts this year striking out 82 in 73.2 innings. He only gave up 3 HRs on the year, too. He has a nice sized frame and could add some weight without much effort. I like this pick.

2:05 PM 23rd Round: Hunter Taylor – Catcher – South Carolina – 5’11” 226 lbs. Bats and Throws Right

A second team All-American in HS, the senior catcher has worked with some very good pitchers the past four years. He had his best season as a senior this year with 8 HRs.

As deep as the system is in backstops, I didn’t think the Cubs would be drafting a catcher, especially a senior. There must be something they really like.

1:50 PM 22nd Round: Jamie Galazin – OF – St. John’s 6’4″ 200 lbs. Bats Right, Throws Right

The more I read about him, the more I like. Hits a little over .300 with an OBP of over .400. A senior, look for him in Eugene soon at the top of the order.

1:30 PM 21st Round: Carlos Vega – RHP – Southeast Missouri State 6’2″, 220 lbs

He did a mixture of relief and starting this year. A senior, he amassed 85 Ks in 73 innings with a 2.45 ERA. I like his frame. Probably not going to get much bigger.

1:25 PM

Since there is a break in the draft, I thought I’d take the opportunity to analyze what has happened so far. The Cubs are continuing to go to college route very heavily. I expect that to continue for the next 10 picks, even though we might see then dip more into the junior college arena and maybe even Divisions II or III.

I also like that the Cubs are starting to find some left-handed pitching. I talked about it a couple of hours ago if you scroll down below on what some of the needs the Cubs’ system has. This is usually the part of the draft where the Cubs shift from best player available to what we might call organizational guys. However, some of those organizational guys turn into prospects. You never know what can happen.

1 PM

The Internet has gone out so I can’t do cards until it comes back on. Meanwhile, I will keep up on my phone with the selections.

20th Round: Chris Allen – LHP – Marin Community College – 6’4″ 180 lbs.

Good numbers as he put up a 1.34 ERA in 100.2 innings while striking out 102. He only walked 23 for K/BB ratio of almost 5. Impressive!

19th Round: Layne Looney RHR – University of Richmond -5’10” 200 lbs.

He had huge numbers this year as a reliever. He pitched 30 innings but struck 51 batters while only walking 13. His ERA was 0.60. Should be interesting to see him in Action, likely at Eugene.

12:50 18th Round; Jake Slaughter – SS – LSU – 6’3″ 200 lbs. Bats and Throws Right

The Cubs redrafted slaughter, they first took him a couple of years ago out of high school. I like this pick. While he does have two years of eligibility left, the Cubs could not have selected him today without his permission since they drafted in 2016 already. Slaughter hit .247 this year, which was down from last year, but doubled his HR total to 7 in 2018.

 

12: 30 17th Round: Jake Reindl – RHP – U Arkansas Fayetteville – 6’2″ 195 lbs.

12:20 16th Round: Josh Sawyer – LHP – U of Texas – 6’3″ 180 lbs.

He’s pretty excited about being drafted. 2018 is his first year healthy in the last three as he has had assorted minor injuries. he has one year of eligibility left but he will likely join the Cubs. You can see him in action Friday in the Super-Regional.

He’s going to be a reliever.

12:10 15th Round: Tyler Durna – 1B – UC San Diego – 6’0″ 205 lbs. Bats Left Throws Left

The Cubs haven’t drafted a 1B since 2012. He’s not that big but hit .333 with a .469 this year with 7 HRs.

12:00 14th Round: Riley McCauley – RHP – Michigan State – 5’11” 205 lbs.

The last pitcher the Cubs tooks from MSU is working out fine. McCauley did a bit of both starting and relieving. I’d expect him to be a reliever. Has a nice 3-to-1 K/BB ratio. He is a draft eligible sophomore and could return to school.

11:50 13th Round: Ezequiel Pagan – CF – Prp Baseball Academy – Puerto Rico – 6’1″ 163 lbs. Bats left, throws right

Definitely have to look to see if he is related to Angel

11:40 12th Round: Cameron Sanders – RHP – LSU – 6’2″ 175 lbs.

Ranked 475 by BA. Played just 1 year at LSU, mostly in relief. He’s all arms and legs. Big arm, hits low to mid 90s but had control issues earlier in the year. Likely a reliever to begin.

11:25 11th Round: Riley Thompson – RHP – Louisville – 6’3″ 206 – Throws Right

Ranked #216 on BA Top 500. Has a mid 90s fastball, a plus curve, but needs a lot of polishing. He had TJS surgery in 2016. Lots of upside here if he responds to pro coaching. Could relieve, could start. Likely heads to Mesa. Just turned 21.

10:50 am

It’s going to be a long day. About every 15 minutes today, I will repeat the following process 30 times:

1. Get their name spelled right, school, position, height, weight, and picture.
2. Make a card
3. Upload said card to Twitter and Facebook
4. Find some sort of info about them either at BA 500, MLB Pipeline Top 200, college team website, the Baseball Cube, or Google
5. Type it up and click the update button.
6. Rinse and repeat.

Does that seem a bit rushed to you? Well, that’s day 3 in a nutshell.

Questions I Have for Today
1. Will the Cubs continue to have a somewhat balanced approach of taking a mixture of hitters and pitchers?
2. Will the Cubs still be selecting a clear majority of college players again? So far, 9 out 12 have been college ballers.
3. Will the Cubs take a chance on selecting one of the top prep players like Cole Wilcox or Kumar Rocker? If they do, it would be in the 30s. Highly doubt they could sign one, but you never know.
4. The Cubs have certain needs in the MiLB system. Will they draft to those needs or take the best player available? They are in need of shortstops who can field and left handed starters and relievers. McLeod is not going to target them en masse, but the position breakdown will be something to analyze later.
5. How many of these will realistically sign? In the Theo Era, the CUbs usually sign around 25, +/- 2 or 3. Last year was aberration as they inked 29 to contracts.
6. And when they do sign, does that second Mesa team become the staging area for them? It will be interesting to see how that new affiliate is used for late June and early July. Both Eugene and Mesa begin play on Friday the 15th.

The draft comes at you quick.

Let’s get it started.

The Midweek: Day 3 of the Draft Coming Up, Promotions, Machin is Cranking, and Morfa Emerging

By Todd Johnson

Today’s going to be a hectic day. Starting around 11 Central, Day 3 of the MLB draft begins. If you go online to MLB.com, it’s like listening to a giant conference call because that’s exactly what it is. There is no time between picks and it is sometimes hard to keep up. I will be live blogging starting around 11 and, at some point, I will need to take a break as the day wears on. I hope to see a surprise or two today in the draft.

Around the System
Unfortunately, the minor league system does not shut down while the draft takes place. Tennessee and Myrtle Beach are playing well right now and both are closing in on playoff spots with 12 games to go. Tennessee is three games back of arch-rival Chattanooga while Myrtle Beach is 4.5 games back of Winston-Salem. South Bend has won three in a row and it’s two games below .500, also with 12 games left. But they are 9 games back.

The big story this week has been the parade of pitching prospects moving up and down the system. Southern League All-Stars Trevor Clifton and Dakota Mekkes are now at AAA Iowa. That is pretty exciting. It is pretty cool that both of them are one step away from realizing their dreams. I will hopefully be traveling out to Iowa some point in the next two weeks. Most likely, Monday or Tuesday next week.

In addition, Matt Swarmer heads from Myrtle Beach to Tennessee along with reliever Jordan Minch who now gives Tennessee their first left-handed on the roster this season. Pitcher Cory Abbott takes off his South Bend uniform and will put on Myrtle Beach Pelicans jersey for a while. I cannot wait to see how he does in a pitcher’s park.

Even though he was promoted a few weeks ago to AA Tennessee, infielder Vimael Machin has been on fire since arriving in Kodak. In 16 games as a Smokie, he’s hitting at .432 clip. I will have a profile of him in the next few days. I also have one ready to go on Trevor Clifton.

Down in the Dominican, the two teams have played 3 games. Outfielder Carlos Morfa is stealing all the thunder hitting 3 HRs, 2 of them yesterday, while hitting close to .600. His OPS is 2.199!!! Be wary of DSL stats, but this is an interesting story to follow as Morfa needs to builds up a larger sample size of data. This is about the only thing I can find about Morfa and it is his prospect video from the DPL. First thing you notice in the video. He’s just 17.

Meanwhile, on Cubs Central, the draft is hogging the website for just one more day. After today, I will have a new top 21 list tomorrow and then I think I might take a day off from writing as it feels like it’s becoming a full-time job the past three days.

Right now, I’m going to go for a walk. It’s a little brisk here in northern Illinois as it got down into the 40s last night. The cool air ought to wake me up and get me ready for 30 new Cubs to be selected starting in less than 3 hours.