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Cubs Draft Preview: Interview with Andy Seiler

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

If you closely follow the MLB draft, chances are you are familiar with draft expert Andy Seiler. Andy is the proprietor of MLB Bonus Baby, which stands alone as the best free draft blog on the internet. 

With just about 3 weeks to go until draft day, it's the busy time of the year for Andy, who is in the middle of putting together the 2010 MLB Draft Notebook, his annual preview with detailed profiles of 775 prospects. It's available for pre-order now at the link above and will be delivered to your email inbox the weekend preceding the draft. It's highly recommended reading for draft-niks.

Fortunately for us, Andy was able to find a few minutes to talk some Cubs-centric MLB draft with Dan Cupples.
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WB: The Cubs spent a meager $4.0 million last year. Have you heard anything on how much they may spend this year? 

AS: There will be an increase this year, but don't expect it to double. They pick 15 slots higher in each round, and that alone should push them up to close to $5 million, and with new ownership, I could see them settling in the $5.5-6 million range, depending on a few factors. It's not the strongest draft, so $5 million seems more reasonable this year. 
 
WB: The Boston Red Sox in recent years have invested heavily in high end talent that has fallen to later rounds with large bonus demands such as Ryan Westmoreland, Anthony Rizzo, David Renfroe, Madison Younginger, Josh Reddick, Lars Anderson etc. and it's paying off in the depth of the system. Why doesn't a large market team such as the Cubs also attempt to utilize this strategy?

AS: That's the question that everyone is asking in the industry, and it's all about toeing the line. Some teams in big markets have real financial constraints, such as the Dodgers. Others, such as the Mets, have chosen to follow slot due to a desire to please Bud Selig. The Red Sox should be the model for drafting as a large market team, and I've said that again and again, but teams generally don't feel that way. It's just one of those things where baseball artificially constrains itself. 

WB: Have you heard anything on how the Cubs draft will be run under new ownership or do you see them sticking with their past draft strategies?

AS: I don't think the actual draft strategy will change, as it's still the same front office and scouting department. There's a chance they might invest more money into it, but I really doubt they'll actually change the strategy of how they draft, since that would involve changing the way they think about who is valuable in the draft.

WB: Your last 3 mock drafts have the Cubs going college pitcher. It's been Jesse Hahn, Matt Harvey, and Brett Eibner. If all 3 were available at 16 who would you say is the best of the 3?

AS: I think it's between Eibner and Harvey, and I like Eibner more personally. Harvey just has a lot of risk to me, and Eibner offers good upside as someone who is athletic and is a two-way player. He could really explode when given the chance to pitch full-time. Hahn's recent injury takes him out of the equation there.

WB: Does Harvey have ace potential?

AS: I think he's more of a #2/3 starter, as his command isn't good enough to be a number one, and he doesn't really have that third pitch, either. 
 
WB: How good can Eibner be? What's his ceiling if he focuses soley on pitching?

AS: He also has a #2/3 ceiling, but he could actually be more. Once he's a full-time pitcher, it's hard to predict how he'll improve.
 

WB: Is Hahn a good bet to stick as a SP?

AS: I think he showed enough before he went down to stick as a starter, at least until the high minors, when a team might want his power arm in the back-end of their bullpen out of need. His injury has made more than a few teams question his durability, though, so he could be back in square one with relation to this question. 

WB: If the Cubs decided to go hitter at 16, who would be a good fit?

AS: There are a number of players that could fit there, including Bryce Brentz of Middle Tennessee or possibly Justin O'Conner, a prep catcher/shortstop from Indiana. However, the general consensus is that the place where the Cubs pick is likely to mean the best players available will be the second tier of pitchers. 

WB: The hitting class this year seems weak, especially the college ranks. Is that a fair assessment?

AS: It's pretty fair. However, the rise of a couple of players who were on Team USA last summer in Michael Choice and Yasmani Grandal is encouraging. Grandal's emergence to me is especially big, as he could be a top-level catcher with what he's been showing this year, and that's desirable any year in the draft. 

WB: Many have speculated that A.J. Cole's draft stock is slipping a bit, possibly to the mid-1st round. What are the chances he's available when the Cubs pick at 16 and is there any chance the Cubs would take him?

AS: There's a pretty fair chance he's available when the Cubs pick, but the odds of that pick actually happening are low. He just doesn't fit with the way the Cubs run their drafts. Even if they are able to spend more money this year, he's just not the type of player that the Cubs draft and develop, whether or not Cubs fans like that. 
 
WB: Can you give me a few names of high end talent that may fall to the later rounds due to bonus demands along the lines of David Renfroe, Brody Colvin, and Zach Von Rosenberg in the 2009 draft?

AS: The popular name right now is California prep outfielder Austin Wilson, who doesn't have the polish with the bat to be a no-doubt first round pick, and his Stanford commitment really drops him. Another could be Zach Lee, who is a two-sport commit to LSU as a quarterback and pitcher.

WB: How about some names the Cubs may be targeting in rounds 2-5?

AS: They could be after a number of guys, including Derek Dietrich, Austin Wood, Sam Dyson, and maybe Marcus Knecht. The possibilities are endless, and it's all about who falls where, as this is a draft class with a lot of uncertainty. 
 
WB: Can you give me a handful of names that are rising up draft boards? Falling?

AS: Rising are guys such as Ryne Stanek, a prep arm from Kansas, Kyle Waldrop, a prep outfielder from Florida, and Jacob Petricka, an arm from Indiana State. Falling are Rick Hague from Rice, Jesse Hahn, and Bryan Morgado from Tennessee. 

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1 Comment

WearShades said:

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Well this saved me the trouble of having to ask Andy during his Q&A Saturday threads.

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