Yeah, it's November and it's Hot Stove season.
But it's also a good time to remember how an organization builds organically and that starts with the draft. The Cubs top 3 prospects: Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Albert Almora have been acquired in the last 3 drafts.
This year the Cubs have the #4 pick and are poised to add yet another high level long term asset.
It is early, but things are already beginning to take shape and while things can change, the odds are looking good that the Cubs will get the kind of player they prefer.
The 2014 MLB Draft has some college pitching up at the top of the draft along with some good high school bats. Other than that, there is one college bat that could be a top 5 pick and maybe a few high school arms in the top 10, led by Tyler Kolek. The one college position player who currently has a shot at the top 5 is NC State Trea Turner.
We can pretty safely assume a few things about the way the Cubs draft...
- They go BPA with their first pick.
- They prefer college position players if all things are equal.
- They prefer players with high floors to go with their high ceilings, so college players are more likely to be picked high in the draft as a general rule, though exceptions can be made when there is a very polished, high floor high school player, as we saw with Albert Almora.
- They like to gather as much information as possible. They scout relentlessly, year-round, and accumulate tons of data. The more data they have on a player, the more comfortable they are. We saw this last year when the Cubs narrowed down their choices to Stanford RHP Mark Appel and San Diego 3B Kris Bryant. Not only did the Cubs scout them heavily that summer, they have scouted them heavily since high school. They knew them well.
Considering Trea Turner is the top college position player available, we should probably assume he is high on their list.
I don't see a high school position player who is as polished as Almora was. Alex Jackson has been making the showcase circuits now for a couple of years, so he may be the closest. Other players such as Jacob Gatewood, Michael Gettys, and Braxton Davidson, aren't as far along yet. They'd be upside plays but all entail some significant risk. Right now I'm skeptical the Cubs would go in that direction with the #4 pick.
The high school pitchers offer a bit more polish. Tyler Kolek doesn't leave much room for projection. He is physically mature, his velocity has already reached the high 90s, and he has the makings of a plus curve. The only thing to worry about is command and whether that massive body becomes a problem as he continues to age.
LHP Brady Aiken is an intriguing pitcher. He's a bit more advanced than Touki Touissant, a 3rd possible top 10 HS arm in the draft. His command is better and he already looks like he can develop a solid 3 pitch repertoire, but at this point #4 seems a bit high.
Then there are the college arms. NC State LHP Carlos Rodon is a virtual lock at the top of the draft. Barring injury, he won't slip to the Cubs and probably won't even slip to #2. East Carolina RHP Jeff Hoffman looks like the consensus #2 player at this time, though he is less of a lock than Rodon.
The White Sox pick next and the rumor is they're looking at a bat and may go the high school route to get one with the most upside. Having just drafted SS Tim Anderson, it doesn't appear that Turner will be in their sights. I think they're looking for a more pure bat with some power this time around, so perhaps Jacob Gatewood or Alex Jackson fits the bill. Jackson is heading up draft boards and has a good shot at cracking the top 5 again.
I think there is a good chance that Trea Turner is there for the Cubs when their turn comes up, but I also think there are still a couple of college arms worth considering.
The first is Tyler Beede. At this time last year, many were projecting Beede for the #2 spot but command issues became a concern. What I've been hearing now is that he has made a slight adjustment to his delivery and that his control and command has already improved noticeably.
This is what Don Olsen said of him yesterday on Twitter in a conversation with Kevin Gallo,
He is hitting his spots and working both sides at will. He did not walk a single batter this fall. His arsenal and demeanor can allow him to shine, streamlining his delivery and command can make him untouchable. Adding time to upper half has him syncronized now and a full extension has improve command. hitting the ceiling can make for a solid top of the rotation. His floor is rather high as well. The only thing in his way is command. If Ty has that down, his approach and arsenal have that (true #1) potential.
The other name to watch if both Hoffman and Rodon are gone is a LHP out of Hartford named Sean Newcomb. He's another big kid at 6'5" with two plus pitches -- a slider and a fastball that reaches 97 mph. The change is coming along as well.
Here is what Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel said about Newcomb,
Multiple sources have predicted Newcomb will have a coming-out party this summer with Team USA, with one scout saying he thinks Newcomb will go in the top 10 picks next June. Why are they so sure? The 6'5, 240 pound lefty hit 95 last summer in a very short stint on the Cape and has hit 97 this spring with comparisons to Jon Lester, if you're into that sort of thing. His upside is right there with Rodon and if he can show it with positive results over the summer, he could easily enter the spring as my top college pitcher.
It's a good year to have a top 10 pick and as of now it looks like the Cubs should have plenty to choose from even if they steer away from the solid high school crop this year. Between Rodon, Hoffman, Turner, Beede, and Newcomb, the Cubs have 5 solid college players to choose from. Then again, maybe they'll surprise and go with a high school arm or bat, but I'm just not seeing that at this point.
For those pining for that impact, top of the rotation arm, the Cubs may finally get their shot at one in 2014.
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