A ridiculously early look ahead at possible Cubs picks for the 2013 MLB Draft

After knocking the White Sox out of first place yesterday, I'm feeling good about the Cubs...for now.  But let's face it.  It's going to be a tough year.  The Cubs are only 1/2 game "behind" the San Diego Padres for that first pick in the draft already and it seems likely they'll trade at least one of their best starters, maybe both.   Other starters who don't figure long term may be traded as well.  It'll be exciting to see younger players in the lineup, but there will probably be some growing pains.  A 100 loss season may be difficult to avoid.

So, after that sobering piece of reality, the good news for draftniks like myself is that we can start looking forward to the 2013 MLB Draft.  It's not a particularly strong draft.  There's a nice crop of high school catchers and some interesting college arms, but it's early.  It's possible a player or two will emerge from the pack and put themselves in that potential superstar category, but right now it looks much like 2011 in that there are many good or "interesting" players.  Let's take a look at some of them in no particular order...

  • Ryan Stanek, RHP, Arkansas:  The 6'4", 180 lbs.Stanek has a lean, projectable body and can get his fastball up to 98 mph with a nasty slider, so he has the makings of two plus-plus pitches off the bat.  He's still a work in progress, however.  The change-up is the least advanced of his offerings, but when you have two nasty pitches at the college level, you really don't need a change-up.  A contact of mine who just saw him pitch told me he was low 90s and topping out at 93 once the game wore on into the middle innings, so he may need to gain strength and add some weight to his lean frame to sustain his velocity into the later innings.  Interestingly, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo doesn't feel Stanek would have been a top 10 pick in this year's draft, which he just missed being eligible for by about a week, but Stanek is generating a lot of buzz of late as a possible 1st overall pick for 2013 because of his potential to be a frontline starter if he can command his great stuff.
  • Jeremy Martinez, C, H.S. (CA): The 5'11", 190 lbs. Martinez has the skills to stay at catcher long term with the potential for a plus hit tool.  Strong defensive catchers who can hit are obviously rare, so Martinez's all-around skills should be at a premium.  He also tends to perform big at showcase events, so scouts know he can play well when the spotlight is on.  ESPN rates him as the top high school player in the draft.  As I mentioned, high school catching is a strong group for 2013 but Martinez is a cut above other standouts such as Zach Collins, Chris Okey, Nick Ciuffo, and Ryan Healey.
  • Austin Meadows, OF, H.S. (GA):  In the past two years it's been Bubba Starling and Byron Buxton.  Meadows is this year's athletic 5-tool high school outfielder.  The lefty hitting Meadows is a big kid at 6'3, 200 lbs. and has been compared to Josh Hamilton for his all-around skill set.  That size combined with good bat speed point to someone who will hit for power when all is said and done.  He also runs well for his size.  He also has the kind of efficient advanced swing to hit for average and gets rave reviews for his mental makeup/work ethic.
  • Karsten Whitson, RHP, Florida: Many thought Whitson would be the sure fire #1 pick after he turned down a big bonus to sign as the San Diego Padres 9th pick in the 2010 draft.  Whitson, however, has had some minor, but nagging injury issues at Florida and hasn't performed up to expectations.  When healthy, the 6'4" Whitson has a mid 90s fastball, slider, and change-up -- with the potential to command all 3.  We obviously know GM Jed Hoyer and VP of scouting McLeod really liked him, but you may not know that Tim Wilken coveted him out of high school as well.  The problem with Whitson are those medical reports.  Even if he has a great year, will teams still be scared off?
  • Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego:  Bryant is best perhaps the best pure hitter in next year's draft and his bat definitely stands out among a weak group of college hitters  He's had 2 very productive college seasons so far.  Bryant has great size at 6'5", 200 lbs. and as you might imagine, great power potential.  He also has a patient approach at the plate. There are some concerns, however.  Some think that "patience" is really more of a passive approach at the plate.  There are also questions about his ability to hit with wood bats and whether he's anything more than a dead-red fastball hitter.   If he answers those questions to the satisfaction of scouts, he'll be among the top picks.
  • Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford: Wilson is a physical specimen at 6'5", 245 lbs. with power potential and a RF'ers arm.  He's an average runner.  He's been victimized somewhat by Stanford's mandated hitting style which doesn't allow him to pull for power, but scouts think it will return once the shackles come off.  He also has a patient approach at the plate and should put up good OBP numbers.  An optimistic comparison is Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins.
  • Clinton Hollon, RHP, H.S. (KY): A 6'1", 195 pitcher with an "electric" fastball that already touches 96 mph and has some sink and run.  The potential is there as well for plus breaking stuff and a change-up.  Scouts also love his clean delivery, his athleticism, and his advanced command.  He's a high school pitcher, so we're talking about a work in progress, of course, but Hollon has the type of mental makeup that gives him a good chance of making the most of his great stuff.
  • Oscar Mercado, SS, H.S. (FL): The 6'1", 180 lbs Mercado is a top defensive SS with a plus arm.  He's the best pure SS in the draft.  At the plate, he has good swing mechanics and enough bat speed to eventually be a plus offensive player at his position.  He's still highly projectable, but all the tools, except for possibly big power, are there.  As a bonus, he's an excellent student, so scouts expect him to be a coachable player who learns quickly.

Filed under: MLB Draft

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    It's never to soon to talk about the draft when you root for a team as bad as ours.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Haha! Very true...

    It's also never too early for draft geeks like myself.

  • Thanks a lot for doing this, the draft ('12/'13) and the minor league recaps are whats getting me through this baseball season, although the last couple of games have been nice.

    I like meadows, seems like a impact tools/high makeup type guy that the cubs like and whitson is definitely interesting, if he comes back big this year he again could be 1.1. Not sure i like stanek in the top 3 but again a big year could change a lot and a lot people seem to like him a lot

    Looking forward to more of this stuff as the years rolls into next

  • In reply to Andrew13:

    Your welcome...and I feel the same. It's tough to be in a position where you are always looking ahead, but that's our fate in 2012, unfortunately.

    We'll probably update draft/amateur stuff as some of the tournaments/showcases start popping up.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Cool, looking forward to it as always

    Somewhat off topic question but what is the stanford "hitting" style i have read about a lot recently mostly w/ kenny diekroger and now wilson, is it just that they want contact and less power so the power #'s take a dive in that system?

  • In reply to Andrew13:

    It's an effective approach but what it does is sap power because it focuses on hitting line drives and hitting it where it's pitched rather than pulling for power.

    It's okay with some hitters, but scouts dislike it when it comes to guys with power potential like Wilson.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Interesting thanks for that

  • In reply to Andrew13:

    I like the approach as I tire of watching power hitters role over pitchers pitches trying jack everything out of the park.

  • I really like the idea of drafting Whitson, Wilson or Meadows. They all sound like potential high impact guys! I know we already have a lot of potential high impact guys in the outfield but it never hurts to add 1 more to the fold if they're the best available player!

  • In reply to Kyle R:

    Can never, every have too many impact guys regardless of position. Worst case scenario is you deal the surplus for need.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I do think though that if we had our choice between those 3 the front office would draft Whitson, based on we need more impact pitching, and it sounds like they love him like they did Almora! If he has a good spring he might be the definite #1

  • In reply to Kyle R:

    I find it interesting that both McLeod and Wilken liked him a lot out of high school. If hes healthy, he could be the guy. He's a more complete pitcher than Stanek.

  • Keep an eye out for Tucker Neuhaus 2B/SS/3B Wharton HS Tampa FL committed to Louiville. He just played in the perfect game nationals and hit over .300 this year he could be a good HS pick up I think for the Cubs

  • In reply to Chicago Cubs Fan 24:

    Thanks, will do. We'll try and keep an eye out on as many guys as we can.

  • With about 7 teams playing so bad it might be hard for the Cubs
    to get the 1-3 pick. Lets hope they don't have too many long
    winning streaks. As hard as this season has been, having one
    of the top hitters in the draft will help.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    You're not suggesting tanking games, are you? :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No way, a player always has to his best for himself and the team.
    That said, the Cubs should find ways to lose on there own.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    haha...agreed! I don't think the Cubs need to lose on purpose. It will happen naturally.

  • Just so the Readers know I am already all over Bryant, Martinez and Wilson. I have notes and video on all three already.
    I saw Martinez twice and once in the Playoffs a very impress at and behind the plate. In the playoff his throws to 2B were between 1.8 and 1.9 sec. He had a great approach at the working counts and above average to plus raw power.
    I saw Bryant about 4 times and I saw an advance approach at the plate with plus power. At one game I saw him him take a CB 450 ft and didnt get all of it. This is a hard working kid and a great work ethic.

    One player John didnt mention was a LHP out of HS named Stephen Gonsalves. He is 6'5 and 190lbs. His FB sits in the low 90s with good movement and could project into the mid 90s. Has a 2 plane CB that is 74 to 76 with a sharp 2 to 8 clock break. He also had a CU that looks to be a work in progress.

    I saw Bryant about 4

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    I actually like Gonsalves. If I would have added one more player, it would have been him...so thanks for bringing him up...with scouting report to boot!

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    You are right. This won't be a deep draft in terms of college hitters, but there should be a better selection of college pitchers. This year's crop was devastated by injury.

    Stanek is this year's Gausman. Lots of projectability to that frame.

    Whitson would be this year's Appel if he could get past the groin injury. I'm not sure he wouldn't be better served by skipping the summer circuit to heal up and come back strong.

    Austin Meadows is this year's Buxton.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Those are fair comparisons. I do think there are some nice college arms out there, but you only get the elite ones if you have a top 2 or 3 pick.

    Right now, you have to think one or two will stand out, with Stanek and Whitson being the most likely, in my opinion.

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    sorry John have been away for awhile with business in KC and not paying close attention to Cubs Den. How does the demp injury affect trade possibilities? It's not serious is it? I'm sure you probably already addressed this somewhere.

  • In reply to Gary Kueper:

    Nice to hear from you again, Gary. I did address it, but I won't make you dig through for it :)

    It's not serious. The feeling I got is that he could still probably pitch if the Cubs were contending, but right now his value is in staying healthy, so Cubs are being overly cautious -- and other teams understand that.

  • i know that you theo/jed/mcleod/wilkens philosophy is to take the bpa,

    BUT the strength in our system is outfielders and ss/3b. we are lacking in the pitching and catching departments. im hoping that the pitching has improved with the guys that we drafted this year but we still dont have that "this guys gonna be an ace" prospect in our system. it would be really nice to grab one of those guys in next years draft.

    obviously if theres an of or ss/3b that is head over heels better than every other player in the draft and hes available when we pick then i would want the cubs to select him. but if its debatable between that guy and the best pitcher or catcher on the board then i think we need to take the pitcher or catcher.

    i also hope that next year the cubs execute the same plan that they had this year by selecting pitchers with the majority of their first 7 or 8 picks.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    The trouble is there is no guy like that in next year's draft, at least not yet, anyway. If a true frontline guy like that emerges, then we can be pretty sure he'll be a top 3 pick.

    In the absence of that, you just take the best guy, Better to have another stud OF'er than a mid to low rotation prospect. It gives you more options.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    The other good thing is that the strength of this draft is college pitching and high school catchers. So maybe it works out anyway!

  • John, any chance you think Carlos rodon of nc state will be eligible for draft? I heard if he transfers to juco he would be eligible for 2013 draft. He would be great choice for cubs!

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    I haven't heard anything on that. I'm going under the assumption right now that he won't be in this draft. For those who don't know, Rodon is a LHP who is perhaps the top freshman player in college baseball. Some compared to David Price.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I read some speculation on that as well. Thought was, it's a weak draft and he could be a sure-fire first overall pick. So perhaps he would jump through the hoops to get in the 2013 draft rather than wait for his class which could be more talent-laden.

    But all speculation. Maybe he likes college and isn't overly worried about being a number 1 in 2013 vs a number 5 in 2014 for example. Or maybe he would still be a number 1 in 2014. Who knows.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    It'd certainly be good for the Cubs if that comes to pass.

  • Next year's draft will be interesting. I'll assume the Cubs won't have any Comp picks. They could just take the best player available or if they end up with a top 3 pick and there are 3-5 players they all feel the same about they could pull an Astros move and select the most sign-able then re-allocate the money savings to picks later in the draft.

  • In reply to cowboy2024:

    That could be the strategy to take if there is no obvious #1 type player (much like this past draft where there was no consensus #1 guy). Right now, that does seem to be the case. Some very good talents, but no obvious superstar yet.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    the astros strategy IMO was a very good one. they got arguably the best talent, correa was ranked as the #1, 2, or 3 talent on a lot of draft boards, for a little more than half of his slot. this allowed them to pick tough signs (mccullers specifically) and be more than confident with their ability to sign them.

    id be more than happy if the cubs went this route next year.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I'd be happy with it too...unless there is can't miss guy at the top spot. That's a luxury you can take when there is no Strasburg or Harper at the top.

    That being said, unless someone comes out of nowhere, there's nobody like that in next year's draft.

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    Teammate of Whitsen RHP Jonathan Crawford at Florida, has an absolutely filthily slider and FB that can reach 98, he pitched a no-no a couple of weeks back. Needless to say I like him.

  • In reply to James Knott:

    Another great arm that just missed the cut. Just came out of the pen and he's a two pitch guy, but like Stanek, they both have plus-plus potential. A good candidate to come out of nowhere and shoot up draft boards.

  • 6 months ago the #1 pick was looking like Wilson, most people are viewing him as a 5-10th pick guy now. Meadows has wowed people to the point He is the front runner for #1 right now. Hamilton comparisons as You said. Whitson has to have a better year and Stanek needs to gain some strenght and some endurance to be the guy. Long ways off but as of now I would take Meadows hands down . Like this year the Cubs should get a real nice player .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Agreed. They should get a real nice talent. Of course, lots of things can change from now until next year. Some H.S. guys have bad years, like Nick and Trey Williams, and then drop out of the first round completely. Sometimes guys, like Zimmer, come out of nowhere to jump into the top 5 picks. It'll be interesting to see which of these guys still top the list, which drop off, and what new names we'll be talking about as the process plays out.

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    Where does Florida other star pitcher, Jonathon Crawford project to be drafted?

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Too early to project draft position. Should be a first rounder, but has a chance to be a top 5 guy with his stuff if he continues to develop as a starter.

  • Whitson is an example of why Almora would be crazy to turn down 3 million bucks. Whitson might have turned down more in 2010. With his injury track record, he will be lucky to get anywhere near that next year.
    What about Mark Appel. I can see him going back to Stanford, or playing in an independent league. Seems like his ego won't let him sign for his slot this year.

  • Appel is the biggest question mark as far as guys who may not sign in the first round. He overplayed his hand, so now it's either take less money, go back to Stanford, or try a pro league somewhere. I read somewhere where he was thinking about signing with a pro Japanese team and then becoming a free agent. MLB will likely find a way to block that, however.

    As for Whitson, he could well wind up in the top 10 again, maybe even top 5, but he probably could have been in AA or AAA by now if he'd gone pro and stayed healthy. Also new CBA ensures he won't make up the money he probably passed up.

  • I don't know. It kinda sucks the Cubs will have a top pick, maybe THE top pick, in a year without a consensus top talent that is head-and-shoulders above the rest of his draft class. My philosophy after what happened to Prior (and many other highly rated pitchers taken high in the draft that didn't make it) is to take a position player. Plus, there is no D. Bundy or a S. Strasburg-type prospect in next yr's draft.

    I say we draft a good polished, high-ceiling+high-floor player like A. Almora this year. Try to get him to agree to a pre-draft deal that saves the Cubs some cash that they can spend in the later rounds on top prospects who are asking for 1st round-2nd round bonuses, similar to what Houston did this year with C. Correa.

    I would take K. Bryant. Great makeup/great tools. I might start Bryant at 3B and later move him to the OF. If J. Baez develops like we hope by the time the 2013 MLB draft rolls around he becomes the best 3B talent in our system. A future Cubs outfield of K. Bryant in LF, A. Almora in CF, and J. Soler in RF would be freaking amazing.

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    In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Bundy was the FOURTH pitcher taken in his draft. Talent isn't necessarily about draft spot.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd like there to be a consensus, no-doubt #1, but them's the breaks. There's also been plenty of "can't miss" prospects that missed BIG.

    If Theo and Jed like Whiston still a year from now, then why not?

    And taking position players makes no sense for this team when our biggest problem in the farm system is that we've no pitching talent. What good will yet another position player do?

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    True. That was an unusually strong draft with anywhere from 7-9 potential impact players. Based on pure talent a lot of the teams, including the Cubs may have taken Bundy first (heard Wilken really liked him and may have had him on top of his board). If Bundy was in either this draft or the next one, he probably would have become the first HS RHP to get drafted first overall.

    If the best player available on the board is a position player, I can pretty much guarantee you the Cubs will take him. Baseball amateurs are too far away to draft purely on need. Lots of great players have been passed up because of that.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    I'm sure that's a strategy they'll consider if nobody emerges from the pack.

  • Since there isn't really a clear cut #1 if the Cubs get the 1st pick I hope they can do what the Astros did. Way underslot the top pick and spend the saved money on other guys. It seems having the #1 pick gives you a ton of leverage..

  • In reply to JR Cubbies:

    It's possible. We'll have to wait and see what the crop looks like after next season.

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    If Carlos Rodon continues to improve, is it wrong to hope the Cubs have another terrible year so we can draft him in '14?

    I saw him pitch against Florida this year and he absolutely bullied every batter. They looked scared of him.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I'm all for getting draft picks, but I'll have a hard time with another horrible year. That said, it would be great to keep picking up that kind of impact talent. Rodon has a chance to be a legit #1 pick, so the Cubs would have to be really, really awful.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It would be tough to stomach, and fan outcry would be horrendous, but the long term impact would be overwhelming. Florida was obviously no slouch this year, and they looked exasperated.

    Next year may very well be full of young players. Rizzo and Jackson will likely be starters. Fingers crossed for growing pains and/or a rash of injuries!

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Finishing near the bottom for 3 years is pretty much how Tampa stocked up on impact talent, though they had more supplemental picks.

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    Hey John, i just read an article on the internet that said another Cuban outfielder named Puig or something like that. Do you know anything about him or what he projects to be at. The article said the cubs were very interested in him. If you can help thank you if not that you still thank you

  • In reply to Larry:

    I wrote about Puig yesterday and have a non-update update on him on an article I just wrote. He's the international man of mystery. Talked to some very connected people and info is scarce.

    Here's yesterday's article that first mentioned Puig...

    http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2012/06/cubs-notes-barney-in-demand-lahair-to-play-more-of-and-another-cuban-ofer-hits-the-market/

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry about that and thank you very good article, i must have missed it

  • In reply to Larry:

    No worries :) A lot of people missed that one for some reason, so I decided to link it in the new article.

  • Off topic, but it's good to see the lineup back where it belongs: DeJesus, Castro, Lahair 1,2,3.

    I was so annoyed when Castro was batting third and separately DeJesus was batting third.

    Also, playing in an AL park really reminds you that Soriano would be a great DH.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Agreed. I like Castro batting 2nd as well...and you need DeJesus OBP skills at the top.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    They should put Campana 9th and the pticher 8th then, because it's nice having someone bat behind Campana who's smart at the plate like DeJesus is and gives Campy a chance to put himself in scoring position.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I like it. Somebody call Dale Sveum!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I can't call him. Or be within 300 yards.

  • I love Carlos Rodon, but I don't think Theo or T. Ricketts would have the patience to be THAT bad 2 yrs in a row. Not to mention, a ton of bad luck/injuries/underwhelming performances would all have to happen for the Cubs to get the #1 pick in back-to-back yrs.

    Yes, I am predicting the Cubs to get the #1 pick in next year's MLB draft. Yes, I think we will lose 100 games. Yes, this team will look awful after the trading deadline. Hell, we might even call C. Volstad back up if R. Wells bombs and we trade Dempster and Garza. It could get ugly, but who cares in the grand scheme of things. 5 years from now, all I'll remember about this year is the emergence of J. Samardzija and the pitching dominance of R. Dempster in his last year with the Cubs.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    I don't think they'll want that either. I think they're going to get better faster than a lot of people think...though its quite possible I'm just being insanely optimistic.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nah, I agree with you. I expect them to be pretty good next year also. Assuming we make some trades, and improve the bullpen. The bullpen has really held back the Cubs this year. The good news is with the new CBA teams won't offer that qualifying offer or whatever it's called very often to get draft picks. We might be able to sign a M. Adams or B. League (I think he'll bounce back and be good again) without losing a draft pick.

    I'll miss Type B compensation though. I won't miss the stupid, illogical Elias FA rating system...

  • Austin Meadows sounds a lot like Almora. Way early, but wouldn't be surprised if he's the front front front... front runner right now.

    And I'm not real big on drafting catchers high. They don't give you as much offense, and there're so many intangibles that go into making a good catcher, they're hard to draft. I think it's easier to pick up what you want on the free agent market.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    High school catchers seem to be especially risky in the first round, but Martinez is getting a lot of love right now.

  • I'd just stockpile money and steal Yadier Molina. Not let him out of the trunk till he agrees to play for us.

  • on the topic of next years team, i think its important to look at who the probable guys on the 25 man roster might be

    C Castillo, Clevenger 1b Rizzo 2b Barney, Cardenas
    3b Stewart, Valbuena Ss Castro Lf Lahair, Sappelt
    Cf Jackson, Campana Rf Dejesus

    Rotation
    1 Garza
    2 Samardzija
    3 Wood
    4 Maholm
    5 Volstad, Struck, Rusin, Wells, FA

    Bullpen
    1 Dolis
    2 Beliveau
    3 Russell
    4 Coleman
    5 Bowden
    6 Struck, Rusin, Wells
    7 FA

    This lineup is assuming that we trade dempster (pretty much gone), soriano (should be gone before the beginning of next season), soto (ditto). obviously i cant predict what we'll get back for these guys but i think theo and co. will be aiming for prospects that dont have to go on the 40 man, aka Aball prospects. guys like barney, lahair, garza and maholm might also be traded but theres no way to know if we'll get mlb ready guys back for anyone but garza (and i doubt the pitchers we get back for garza will be better than garza for the 2013 season)

    guys like rizzo, raley and a few guys in AA might be ready to join the big club at some point in the middle of the season, but there are no garuntees.

    i think this lineup is better than this years, but the rotation is definitely worse, especially if we trade garza. so we could be seeing another top 5 pick in 2013.

    thoughts?

  • Meadows recently ran a 6.31 60yd at PGNational, which would be faster than Billy Hamilton.

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