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Cubs Draft 2010: Why the Cubs Blew their First Round Pick

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Matt Swain

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

With the 16th pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, the Chicago Cubs select...

Hayden Simpson?

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In the NFL and NBA drafts, teams are allowed to trade their picks. What that means is that if a team sits with say a #5 pick and covets a player who will surely be available in the 30's, it can trade down and add another pick in addition to landing their target. If that team chose their guy at #5 and sacrificed the value they could have added to the team by trading it, the pick was a failure.

The MLB draft is different. If you have a pick, you're stuck with it. So if a team falls in love with the 20th ranked player in the draft and pick #8, then they're going to have to reach to get their guy. The implication is that you can't hold a selection against a team if the player wouldn't have made it to the next round. After all, the separation between MLB draft prospects isn't huge, and who's to say that their guy won't turn out better than the other options anyway?

This reasoning has the ability to validate every pick made in the first round on Monday, save possibly three. Arizona's choice of Barrett Loux at #6, New York taking Chevez Clarke at #30, and the Chicago Cubs shocking the world with the selection of Hayden Simpson, a no-name righty from Division II Southern Arkansas.
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Coming into the draft, Simpson was given a 4th-7th round rating by Andy Seiler at MLB Bonus Baby, a 4th-5th round rating by Baseball America, and absolutely no love from many of the other mainstream prospect gurus. It's pretty much inconceivable that he would have been taken in the remainder of the 1st round, and even in the 2nd round.

Without even considering Simpson's talents, this pick is a bad one if only for one reason: Had the Cubs held off on calling the name 'Hayden Simpson' for 50 more picks and made him their second round pick, the choice would still have been considered a reach by every draft observer out there.

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Tim Wilken is not stupid. He knows what he's doing, and his track record speaks for itself. Look no further than the 2008 draft, where he snagged Andrew Cashner in the 1st before uncovering gems like Chris Carpenter in the 3rd, Jay Jackson in the 8th, and Logan Watkins in the 21st.

Let's look at the Jackson pick for a minute. It was certainly one of the steals of the draft, as he's shown an advanced repertoire and rocketed through the system to where he is now, on the verge of a major league promotion. Would it have been a good idea to take Jackson in the first round? 

No. The Cubs would have lost out on Cashner, and would have replaced him with another 8th rounder who was statistically extremely unlikely to succeed. You could look back two years later and point out Jackson's success, and you could say he absolutely proved that he deserved to be a first rounder, and I would agree. But that would not make it a good pick, because they would be out a dominant starting pitching prospect

This will go down as the pick of what could have been. What could have been if the Cubs had taken the top high school hitter Josh Sale, or the Midwestern kid with the rocket arm Justin O'Conner, or the safest bet in the draft Alex Wimmers, or the do-it-all infielder Kolbrin Vitek. What could have been if they had held back on Simpson until the 3rd round, still landing the prospect they adored but adding even more to the haul.

Regardless of how cheap Simpson signs for, or how fast he moves, or how good he is, the Cubs lack of patience cost them. He would have provided the same thing tomorrow, and by every single account there is would have made it with plenty of room to spare.

Even if it was the money they were concerned about, there were other signable names available, like Wimmers and Vitek. Unless there's some kind of master plan I'm missing or a team was making it known they would take Simpson in the second round (and why would they?) this pick is simply inexcusable.

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4 Comments

Jeff Buchanan said:

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I like Simpson's comments (from BA):
"It was a shock to me," he said. "I was actually sitting in a chair in my living room with a laptop computer. I was with a couple of my friends and family. We were just sitting there watching the draft. When I heard my name called, everyone was shocked.

"Then it got real crazy from there."

Jeff Buchanan said:

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And some Wilken thoughts (still from BA):
"I feel Hayden is a potential starter who has four average-to-plus pitches and is very athletic with a good feel for pitching," said Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken. "I think we're fortunate to have received really good coverage from our scouts with this selection."

WearShades said:

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I've just loving the ridiculous spin the cubs have already put on the pick. From the always laughable Carrie Muskat, "[Simpson's] selection surprised some of the so-called experts, too, but Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken said it's the right choice." I seem to recall Muskat's angle on the Vitters pick in 2007 relying heavily on how all the experts agreed that he had everything required to make him a superstar. Not that I'm trying to make this about Vitters, but how about a little consistency?

Chance Marshall said:

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if a 35-2 career college mark, 3 national pitcher of the yr awards, and a 97 mph aren't enough 1st rd credentials then idk what makes you worthy of the 1st rd. I've seen this guy pitch for myself, he's the real deal and I think he'll prove all the doubters and so called experts wrong.

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