Cubs Early 2012 Draft Preview

The draft is in June and the amateur baseball season hasn't started yet, but we have a pretty good idea of the kinds of names that may be available for the Cubs with the #6 pick.  It'll be interesting to see what direction the Cubs will go in the first round.  Sr. Scouting VP Jason McLeod is much more likely to take a college player than Tim Wilken, who has traditionally favored higher ceiling players.  With such a high pick the Cubs can look to either shore up their pitching or get a good everyday prospect at a premium position.  It's too early to speculate who will get picked where, so a mock draft will come after the season starts and the picture begins to clear up.

In the meantime, here's 9 names (in alphabetical order) to keep an eye on, plus a few extras who may put themselves in the picture with great seasons...

Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

The consensus top pitcher in the draft, it's unlikely he slides down to the Cubs.  His numbers haven't been great but he's everything scouts look for in a pitcher.  He has a big frame at 6'5", 200 lbs. with good arm action and a low effort delivery that generates excellent velocity.  His fastball sits in the mid 90s and tops out at 98.  He shows a second plus pitch as a slider and his changeup already shows promise.  He has front line starter potential.

Byron Buxton, CF, Apple County, GA (HS)

A fast riser, Buxton is this draft's top 5 tool player but he may interest the Cubs if they believe in his hit tool.  He makes solid contact and figures to hit for more power once he fills out his 6'1, 175 lbs. frame.  He has the speed and range to stay in CF which makes him that much more valuable.  His arm is good enough where he'd be drafted as a pitcher if he chose that route.  There's some mixed opinion, but also a lot to like about Buxton.  There's a  possibility he won't be there by the time the Cubs take their turn.

Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rican Baseball Academy

Correa is already 6'3", 195 lbs and you have to wonder if he'll outgrow SS.  He's a good fielder with a rocket arm.  His offense is projectable as well.  He has good bat speed and the ability to make consistent contact.  Correa has a lot of potential but like most high schoolers, he's not a finished product.  Any team that picks Correa has to feel confident that either he sticks at SS or his bat can develop to carry 3B if he needs to switch.  He's an intriguing talent.

Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU

Gausman may have the best velocity of any collegiate pitcher, able to peak at 99 mph with a clean delivery.  His other pitches are not as advanced as potential #1 overall pick Appel, so it's likely Gausman may slide a bit.  If he makes more progress with his secondary pitches, the Cubs may be tempted to pick him at #6 if he's available.  He has the raw arm to be a front line starter, but it'll be his secondary stuff and feel for pitching that will ultimately determine if he reaches that potential.

Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake, CA (HS)

The 3rd pitcher on this list who can hit the high 90s with a nice, easy delivery, Giolito has tremendous size at 6'6", 240 lbs along with the stuff to be the first high school RHP to get selected first overall.  He's surprisingly advanced for his age when it comes to secondary pitches as he already throws a curveball, slider, and change to go with his tremendous heat.  His command and control, however, isn't nearly as advanced and if teams want to go the safer route, it's possible he could fall to the Cubs.  His ceiling would be a legit #1 starter.

Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State

Unlike Correa, the 6'1", 180 lbs Marrero is a sure bet to stay at SS and that makes him a very likely top 10 pick and probably near the top if he has has a good season.  His greatest appeal to the Cubs would be that he's a superb, polished defender with a good arm.  He has the skills to bump Starlin Castro to 3B.  At the plate, he's a solid hitter, possibly good enough to hit around .300, but his swing is not going to generate home run power.

Lance McCullers, RHP, Tampa Jesuit, FL (HS)

Big fastball, but some think he's destined for the bullpen.  If the Cubs envision him as a starter, his repertoire (high 90s fastball, hard curve, and emerging change) and command are certainly good enough to justify their lofty draft position.  In fact, he was once considered a candidate for the #1 pick overall and still could be if he convinces scouts he has the durability to start long term.  Aside from this talents on the mound, the 6'2", 195 lbs McCullers also gets high marks for his athleticism, instincts, character, work ethic and competitiveness.  Of course, it's his talent and ability to stay as a starter that will be the key factor, but those extras certainly can't hurt.

Trey Williams, 3B Valencia, CA (HS)

Williams has tremendous bat speed and projects to hit for both average and power in the big leagues.   He's also a good defender who's very likely to stick at 3B.  It sounds a bit to me like last year's pick, Javier Baez, so it's up for debate as to whether the Cubs would consider Williams.  His bat, by most accounts the best in this year's draft, may be too good to resist, however.  The Cubs are looking to accumulate assets and talent, so if they think he's the best player available, they could well pull the trigger and sort out the position issue later.

Mike Zunino, C, Florida

Like Marrero, Zunino would appeal to the Cubs in that he projects to be a plus defender at the MLB level.  He is skilled both at moving behind the plate and throwing baserunners out.  He's more than just a catch and throw guy, however.  At the plate he shows plus power potential and good plate discipline, though he doesn't make a lot of contact and probably won't hit for a high average (how many catchers do?).  But with his defensive skills, patience, and power it's easy to envision him being an above average major league catcher overall.  That makes him easily worthy of a top 10 pick.


Chris Beck, RHP, Georgia Southern: Solid repertoire, can reach mid 90s.  A cut below the other pitchers on this list.

Victor Roache, 1B-OF, Georgia Southern: Big time power is his tool but all around skills may not warrant 6th pick.

Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake, CA (HS): The top lefty available, should get plenty of attention with Giolito as teammate.

Nick Williams, OF, Galveston, TX (HS): Superb athlete whose hit tool lags behind.  If he hits this summer, will be a top pick.

Filed under: Cubs, Draft


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  • I think the Cubs will go for pitching at the top of the draft.

    As of today, my guess is that Appel and Giolito are off the board by the time the Cubs pick. If McCullers and Gausman are still available, I hope the Cubs pick Gausman. Since he is coming out of college, he won't require a substantial overslot to sign him.

    This will save money for the Cubs a little later, either with compensatory picks or later to be able to sign a high school player with overslot dollars when they become available.

    Gausman is a safe pick that will allow the Cubs to spend more pool money later. But, you never know who will shoot up the draft list with a strong season before the draft.

  • In reply to Alex:

    I have to think pitching is on the agenda considering that the Cubs lack top shelf SP prospects. Gausman is a good guess being a college arm and someone who has a good chance at being available as it stands today...or course, the season hasn't started yet so things could change, but if the draft were today, I'd have to think he'd get strong consideration.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Here is an early mock draft.

    I would love to have some of the info that Jason/Jed/Theo have on these prospects.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Ha, wouldn't we all! Another good list, by the way.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Here is some video on Giolito facing Trey Williams last season.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Lets try it this time with a URL Shortener..

  • In reply to Alex:

    Wow, two of my favorite players in this draft. How can you not like that easy heat coming out of Giolito?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's like his windup is so slow that lulls you to sleep and then BAM!!! Have a nice walk back to the dugout.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Exactly! He made the best hitter in the draft look overmatched.

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    Good stuff John, and I agree. I think they'll go pitching heavy in this draft early.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thanks...They do have 4 early picks this years, so I think they'll draft some arms early and often, simply because it's probably the weakest part of their organization. But we also have to remember the Cubs aren't exactly a powerhouse in any one area in their system, so I don't expect them to reach for need either. It's cliche but I think they'll go for whomever they think is the best player available, regardless of position.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    True, but I don't think a pitching heavy draft model is necessarily a bad concept. Typically, it has always been less expensive to trade for hitting than for pitching.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That was the McPhail model and he did use it to build a great farm system early on for the Cubs. It should have worked, unfortunately so many of those guys got hurt. That's the risk with pitching, I guess.

    There's a few front-line type starters on this list: Appel, Giolito, maybe Gausman and there's a good chance one of them falls to the Cubs. If none of those guys fall, then I think it depends on what they think of McCullers, if he's available. But if the guys they want aren't available, which is a possibility, they'll go position player -- and there should be a very good one available if the draft falls that way.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I was thinking Braves. They used the.strategy quite effectively, unlike MacPhail.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    When I look back at McPhail, it seemed there were too many raw good arms with no real development plan. All of those guys either got hurt or never developed the necessary secondary pitches.

  • Great write up, John. I think pitching seems like the obvious choice, but do you have a record of Trio's previous picks? "Top Shelf" SP is what Cubs lack, but we also lack power.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Thanks! I think they'll go for the best player available. If there's a position player left that they like better than any of the available SPs, then they'll take that player. Remember that it's general more safe to go with a bat than an arm, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if they went that direction if all things were equal.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    When I bumped into Jason McLeod at the convention (hell of a nice guy) I was asking him about the draft. I asked him if he preferred College to HS & his answer was "Best player available". I also asked him if he prefers to go with certain positions & his answer was "Best player available". So I guess if you know the Cubs top 6, it'll be whichever one is left over. He really does have a man crush on Rizzo too.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Very cool that you met him! I totally believe him when he says best player available, but I also think position comes into play when ranking the best players to begin with. You have to be a great, great hitter to make the top 10 as a 1B or LF'er, for example.

    I hope he's right about Rizzo. I'm really looking forward to seeing how both he and Jackson do on that Iowa team this year. When's the last time the Cubs had 2 top prospects at Iowa who were just a small step away of helping out the big league team?

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Sorry, forgot your question about the record of previous picks, I actually wrote something up on that. Here's the link...

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    I have a very strong feeling they will take Carlos Correa despite the fact that he is a HS player and because he probably projects better as a 3B. I know the Royals are high on Gausman and if both are available at #6 it may be a tough choice. It's early though, some players will drop, some will get hurt, others will rise. Don't the Cubs have something like 4 or 6 of the first 77 picks overall?

  • In reply to Jive Wired:

    They have 4 early picks. I believe it's the 6th, 43rd, 56, and 68, but may need to double check that. You're right in that it's way early and any one of these players can sink or rise. For example, McCullers could have a great injury-free year, yet go near the top of the draft or drop to the mid-round depending on whether teams think he's a long term starter. Then there's injuries, good years, bad years, etc. so a lot of things can happen. This is just an early look at some of the top guys right now. I'll definitely update lists as we go. Did a first round mock last year but I may go into round 2 this year consider all the Cubs picks.

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    Here is an early Rd 1/Supplemental Round mock:

  • In reply to Jive Wired:

    Interesting list...thanks for posting. A lot of the same names I like in there.

  • a few things to think about regarding the draft.

    1. any one of these guys, who "should" be drafted before the cubs pick at 6 very well may not be because the teams in front of us are afraid to go over slot to sign guys, so optimism needs to be had regarding guys who are near the front of the top 10. with that being said....

    2. im all with drafting the best player available, but if theres 2 players the cubs consider to be very close in potential/ability and one guy is easier to sign at the #6 slot i think we have to go with that guy because there will undoubtedly be guys like dillon maples in this years draft who fall to us becuase of signability concerns. if we sign a guy at #6 who requires 7 mil instead of 3 mil it will be harder to to do that with.

    3. who we draft with our first pick doesnt really concern me because im sure they are going to take the bpa no matter if hes a dh or a lhp but after that im really hoping that pitching does dominate our draft board. power can be developed over time by anyone if they spend enough time in the weight room/batting cage but pitching is our biggest need and we need a lot of it so we dont have to trade all of our good position prospects for pitching in the future.

    4. i hope they take a lot more college players than high school players because i feel like that gives us a greater chance to contend sooner, in next years draft (2013) i feel they can reach for more high school guys with higher ceilings but for now i think its all about getting guys to the league the fastest and turning them into assets. at the end of the day a college guy has just a good of a chance to become a star as a high school guy and most of the team they climb through the system faster.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Good points, totally agree on the best player available and the possibility of the Cubs taking more college players than they have in the past.

    As for players falling to the Cubs, though, I think the CBA is really going to limit that possibility because teams will get punished for going too far over slot. From a purist standpoint, the one good thing about the CBA is that players are much more likely to go in order of talent than they have in the past. From a Cubs fan standpoint, it's a downer because they were likely planning on spending big again.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    hm.... i never thought about it like that. on one hand its good that the players will go in order of talent, because we have so many early picks, and the rest of our picks are at the beginning of each round, but on the other hand it sucks that guys wont be slipping to us in the later rounds. it will be interesting what strategy each team (especially the cubs, obviously) comes up with due to the new rules and the way the draft will likely work out.

    john how long do u think it will be before they implement the trading of draft picks in MLB?

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I would think that's something for next year. Looks like they're rolling in some of these changes gradually, but the rules regarding spending seem to be prioritized.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Should be good in the sense that players sign on time to
    report to camp. No more nonsense of waiting until the last
    second to sign. Also signing college players early in the
    draft should help the system start to produce sooner

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Those are both good points. Certainly college players can speed up the building process because they are, with few exceptions, more ready to move though the farm system quickly.

    Really like the earlier deadline which will end the nonsense of waiting until August to sign-- and a whole year before we see significant time on the field.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If anybody can find a loophole its Boras

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    This is true. Also counting on that to happen on the other side with Epstein, Hoyer, and the gang.

  • Did a slight tweaking of the list. In my zeal to get 10 names (ahh, the obsession with round numbers), I may have put one more than I was comfortable with when I made the list. Created a short "others" list instead with some other names that were interesting...

  • I really hope pitching is the BPA because they need it. I agree with going with college over high school because their more polished and developed and for the most part, you can project them easier.

    regarding an earlier comment on McPhail, had things worked out, we could have had Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, John Garland, Dontrelle Willis and Todd Wellemeyer. Ricky Nolasco could have been our spot starter.

    I just hope it works out better for us this time. I think we'll have a very good idea where this team will be in 2013 by the end of this year. Hopefully there will be a lot more MLB ready talent. It is definitely a year to pay close attention to the minors.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Good observation on the McPhail SPs. Seems like the teams we traded with scouted the right guys and left the Cubs with the relief arms and the injury cases

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    That Garland trade for Matt Karchner may have been the worst trade the Cubs have made in the last 20 years...

    Who trades a top 10 draft choice with top of the rotation potential for a struggleing relief pitcher???

  • In reply to Northside Neuman:

    Every time I think of that Garland trade I want to break into hives. What was Ed Lynch thinking?

    And then he went out and did it again, trading an even better prospect in Todd Noel (okay, so he didn't pan out but that's not the point), for Felix Heredia, who was more interested in knowing his radar gun readings than actually getting anybody out.

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    John, don't forget he traded Kevin Orie in that deal as well.. I seem to rememebr the Cubs got a young pitcher Steve Hoff I believe was his name...He won 20 games in A ball..I don't think he won many games after that either...Lynch was a joke..I remember during the last expansion draft, teams were dealing left and right I rememeber ESPN panning over to Ed who was literally sitting htere twiddling his thumbs...I almost kicked the screen in...No wonder Hendry looked like a whiz kid after 6 years of that guy...

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Hendry was a breath of fresh air compared to Lynch. I remember Courtney Duncan. He was supposed to be a 4th, 5th starter type.. but I actually think even he would be too much. A cost controlled starter is always better than a middle relief guy. Not sure who was worse sometimes, Lynch or Jim Frey. Never forget that Jim Frey traded Lee Smith, but turned down Bob Welch (who went on to win 27 games) and took Schiraldi and Nipper instead. Than he traded Palmeiro and Moyer to get Mitch Williams to replace Lee Smith. Set the Cubs back a decade.

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    Whats funny about the Garland deal was that the Sox insisted on Courtney Duncan for Karshner first..That would have been a good trade..

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    The only thing worse than Jim Frey's trades were his drafts..I think the only trade that he made that was decent was Greg Smith to LA for Jose Vizcaino, everything else sucked...The only good draft pick he made was Lance Dickson and then he promptly killed his arm by calling him up the same year he was drafted,,never was the same again..

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