It's been a lot of preparation. We've been gathering info for almost a year. We've provided original, first hand scouting information. We've talked to professional scouts. We've consulted with other bloggers who specialize in the draft. We've voraciously read the available experts' material around the web.
And it was all for this day.
Now that the first 10 rounds are over, here are the picks...
- Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego
- Rob Zastryzny, LHP, Missouri
- Jacob Hanneman, CF, BYU
- Tyler Skulina, RHP, Kent State
- Trey Masek, RHP,
- Scott Frazier, RHP, Pepperdine
- David Garner, RHP, Michigan State
- Sam Wilson, LHP, Lamar CC
- Charcer Burke, CF, H.S. (TX)
- Zach Godley, RHP, Tennessee
And here is what I think....
1st Round Pick
When it came to the first pick, Kris Bryant, it was all about taking the best player available. To the Cubs that means the guy with the best combination of floor and ceiling. Bryant was one of the consensus 3 best players in the draft along with RHPs Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray, but the feeling was that the Cubs felt more comfortable with the power hitting Bryant, partly because of the track record of college bats in the majors and partly because he is a player with whom they have become very familiar over the years.
Bryant figures to provide power and patience and, as luck would have it, at a position of need, 3B. He'll be a top 3 prospect with the Cubs -- probably the only guy I'll rank in the top 10 from this draft.
2nd Round Pick
From here the Cubs attacked pitching and they did it with a specific profile in mind. They were looking for pitchers with certain characteristics:
- Plus arm strength
- Plus mental makeup/work ethic
- The college experience, players that can move quickly
What it adds up to is a lot of high floors when it comes to pitching but with some projectability and room for development. When it comes to 2nd round pick LHP Rob Zastryzny, we're talking about refining command and his breaking pitch -- a pitch he only started throwing 6 months ago. He already has an above average fastball that he throws with good arm speed.
Curiously, the fastball has been clocked anywhere from 86 to 95 mph. But here's the good thing. The 95 mark is the most recent. It's a velocity he flashed in regionals for his Missouri University team. It's also his 4 seam fastball. He also throws a 2-seamer that his more often in the high 80s but has more movement.
What I like about the slider, or lack thereof, is that 1) there is room for improvement and 2) there's been less wear on his arm with a pitch that puts a lot of stress on the elbow. The slider shows promise and has the potential to be yet another average to plus pitch.
Of all the pitchers the Cubs have taken, Zastryzny has the best shot of sticking as a starter because of his change-up, good command, and advanced feel for pitching. If he can have consistent velocity -- and the thought is he'll eventually sit at 92-93 -- while also developing his slider, then the Cubs could have something here.
- Tyler Skulina
- Trey Masek
- Scott Frazier
- David Garner
- Sam Wilson (L)
The other pitchers don't have the same command, feel, or ability to change speeds -- but they all have power arms and the thought behind it isn't hard to see. Jed Hoyer recently said that good teams develop their bullpen organically. That is not to say that the Cubs drafted relief pitchers. All of these pitchers are capable of starting. All have the potential to have 3 plus pitches.
But all have flaws. With some of them it's command, with others it's their delivery, and still others have questions about durabilty. That is why they were available in rounds 4-8.
Whether they are correctable flaws remains to be seen, but none lack for ability or mental makeup. These are the the kinds of pitchers they want to hand over to their secret weapon, minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson, who has a track record of developing consistent velocity and command in his pitchers.
So the idea is let's see if we can develop these power arms into starters. In that sense, they are lottery tickets. There isn't much to lose in rounds 4-8, which is where these guys were taken. At the same time, it's not boom or bust. All of these pitchers have the fastball and potential for one plus secondary pitch -- a starter kit that make them potential fits for the bullpen down the road.
The theme is constant. These aren't low ceiling, high floor guys. They do have high floors, but these are also guys with room for growth and upside, with the mental makeup to work hard to reach that ceiling. And most importantly, there is a staff in place, led by Johnson, to guide them in that direction.
You can see individual profiles of each pitcher in our instant analysis here.
Perhaps the most surprising pick was 3rd rounder Jacob Hanneman. He's a 22 year old draft eligible freshman because of a Mormon mission. He came back to BYU and didn't miss a beat. I think this was a Theo pick, who was enamored with Hanneman's fluid style of play and natural instincts, but I also think this is a guy that Dave McKay will like. I mentioned him as a Jacoby Ellsbury type but he is also a bit like our own Matt Szczur. Szczur however relies more on raw athleticism than baseball instincts. The instincts are something he has developed over time as he has played more baseball. The reason I bring up McKay is because he has specifically raved about outfielders with instincts over ones with raw speed. He was a big fan of Jae-Hoon Ha for this reason. Hanneman may give him the best of both worlds to work with.
I have to admit I don't know much about the last two picks of the round and I imagine that both were taken somewhat for their signability. Charcer Burke fits the athletic, up the middle player type that the Cubs front office likes. One reader who saw him described him as a quick twitch athlete with very good bat speed. Seems like a good place to start.
The last pitcher was Zach Godley from Tennessee and he's a big-bodied college senior (6'3", 245 lbs) who despite having that big size, throws an average 88-92 mph fastball. He also throws a low to mid 70s curve that can be above average at times, and a change. Again, he does have the traits to be a starter but has the skills to be a bullpen guy -- especially if his fastball picks up a few ticks in short stints.
I think it's difficult to grade drafts this early but I applaud the Cubs for thinking outside the box and shifting gears. It seemed the Cubs preferred Appel but they had a plan B ready, which was to take the best player available (Kris Bryant), then take the guy they thought was the best available starting pitcher in round 2 (Rob Zastryzny) and then attacked pitching with volume -- specifically power pitching -- in the middle rounds.
The temptation is to say that the Cubs reached in rounds 2 and 3 but for me to say that would be a self-serving analysis. It would be like saying that I had more (and better) information than the Cubs do. I obviously don't. On the other hand, I don't mean to say I blindly trust the front office. That would be like saying we are completely uninformed and we shouldn't have our own opinions. That's not the case at all.
What I'm trying to do is keep an open mind and doing my best to understand what the Cubs were trying to do. We'll have plenty of time to judge this draft over the next several years. What I can say for now is that the Cubs had an organized plan and executed it well. And while this draft lacked marquee names apart from Kris Bryant, the Cubs managed to snag 5 top 100 talents. I like what they did and if they can come out of his with a middle of the order power hitting 3B, a LH starting pitcher, and a bullpen arm or two, then I will call this draft a huge success.
So now I turn it over to you. How do you think the Cubs did the past two days?
Filed under: MLB Draft