Assessing the top 15 Cubs MLB Draft options in terms of risk and ceiling

Assessing the top 15 Cubs MLB Draft options in terms of risk and ceiling

I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the Cubs draft options in terms of risk and ceiling.  It's no great insight for me to say that ideally you want to minimize the risk while maximizing the potential reward.  We all know this.

The problem is that there is no Mark Appel or Kris Bryant in this draft that offers that sort of balance.  Even the top of the draft contains some risk, but the real bad news for the Cubs is that it drops off after the top 3 picks.  There is still high ceiling talent available, but the amount of risk increases at pick 4 assuming the top 3 are gone by the time the Cubs pick.

The fun -- and scary -- part of all this is there are more options for the Cubs than we have seen since the 2014 draft.  We go over 15 names in depth and add 5 more big names who just don't fit at this point in the process.

Lower Risk/High Ceiling

These are the consensus BPAs in the draft and it would take one of the top 3 teams having a divergent opinion and/or good reason to avoid a player (i.e financial/signability/injury concerns) for one of them to drop to the Cubs.

LHP Brady Aiken, H.S. (CA)

The ceiling: A spike in his velocity this year (as high as 96-97), plus-plus curve, change, command, and a feel for pitching has some comparing him to Clayton Kershaw.  He is certainly a potential ace.

The risk: Those sudden spikes before the draft don't always hold (see Jon Garland, Rob Zastryny) but even if it doesn't, Aiken is polished enough to be a top 3 starter in the mold of Tom Glavine.

LHP Carlos Rodon, N.C. State

The ceiling: Rodon has an 80 grade slider that would already be among the best in baseball, couple that with a mid 90s fastball and you have yourself a #1 starter.

The risk: More than you would think for a pitcher with his track record. Rodon had seen his velocity dip into the 90-91 range earlier in the year and there are concerns about a heavy workload.  There is the command that has just been sub par and some fear it may never be better than average --which would make him more of a mid-rotation type.  One scout isn't in love with his mechanics but feels he is strong enough to overcome them. Lastly, he is being represented by Scott Boras, so a team has to be prepared to go slot or even above, especially if he isn't picked first or second.

RHP Tyler Kolek, H.S. (TX)

The ceiling:  You cannot teach this kind of arm strength.  Kolek has sat mid 90s and hit as high as 102 according to some reports.  He has shown a feel for pitching and has flashed a plus slider at times.  His control has been surprisingly good.  He's yet another potential top of the rotation arm.

The risk: The secondaries are behind the top two pitchers on this list and while he hasn't walked many hitters, questions remain about his long term command.  There are some mechanical flaws but like Rodon, Kolek is a big strong kid who should overcome them.  Still, if you combine those less than perfect mechanics with the fact that he has thrown so hard so early in his life, there should be at least some concern he may pay for it down the road.  Nobody knows this better than Kerry Wood and it's no coincidence the Cubs have sent out one former Texas flamethrower to see the current one.

Moderate Risk/High Ceiling

These players are expected to be available to the Cubs at #4 though it is possible one of them could sneak into the top 3.  All of these players have high ceilings but carry a bit more risk for various reasons.

C. 3B, OF Alex Jackson, H.S. (CA)

The ceiling: Jackson has the best bat speed in the draft and the tools to hit for both average and power.  He has great arm strength and plenty of experience versus top flight high school competition.  If a team feels he can stick at catcher (he has shown outstanding pop times), then he's a top 5 pick, maybe even top 3.

The risk: He has some minor flaws in his swing but his bat speed tends to hide those pretty well.  The bigger concern is where he will play as a pro.  If he does not catch (the catch part of the "catch and throw" is the big question here), then 3B becomes an option -- and after that it's a corner OF position where the burden on his bat increases significantly.  He still has enough bat to have all-star potential even as a corner outfielder.

SS Nick Gordon, H.S. (FL)

The ceiling: Gordon is an outstanding athlete with the bloodlines, makeup, and work ethic to translate that to baseball skills at the highest level.  It has already manifested itself on defense where one scout described him to me as having good range with slick hands.  He also has a cannon arm that has reached as high as the mid 90s off the mound.  A true SS with Gold Glove ability is a huge asset in it of itself.  He has shown great improvement with the bat this summer and has shown good bat speed with extra base pop.  He's not a small SS at 6'2", so there is power potential there. His ceiling is as an above average player offensively (50-55 grades for hitting and power).

The risk: The same scout described a hitch in his swing and told me that whoever takes him will have to be patient with the bat.  He's a little slender in his frame so although he has the athleticism to play anywhere, his bat is somewhat limited and plays best somewhere in the middle of the field.  In the worst case scenario, Gordon had drawn early round attention earlier in the process as a pitcher because of his good pitcher's frame, arm strength and the athleticism to repeat his delivery.  His dad Tom, a former Cub, taught him how to throw that knee-buckling curve as well.

RHP Tyler Beede, Vanderbilt

The ceiling:  Beede has the makings of a top of the rotation pitcher with a 92-96 mph fastball that has good late movement.  He's also shown another potential out pitch with his curve and a change which gives him a 3rd potential plus pitch.  His size, athleticism, and makeup is ideal for a starting pitcher.

The risk: Command is the big issue and I've heard conflicting opinions about his mechanics, though one veteran scout I trust expressed no serious concerns.  A bigger fear may be that Beede regressed as the season went on and that is something no talent evaluator likes to see.  Whatever happens in terms of results is one thing, but you want to see at least some progress cleaning up weaknesses, but that has not been the case with Beede this summer.

LHP Sean Newcomb, Hartford

The ceiling: As one scout put it to me, "What does Carlos Rodon have that Newcomb doesn't from a physical standpoint?"  He has great size, has hit 96 mph, he has the makings of a plus slider (though not on Rodon's level) and a change-up that projects to give him a 3rd solid offering.  He also has an athletic, repeatable delivery so there is potential to improve in that area.

The risk: Like Rodon, he struggles with command and it has been below average all year.  He is also a bit of an unknown in that he pitches at Hartford and hasn't faced top competition, so it's hard to get a feel with how his stuff will play against better hitters, especially in light of his below average command.

RHP Grant Holmes, H.S. (SC)

The ceiling:  Holmes hit 96 this year and has a superb curveball, giving him two legit out pitches right off the bat.  The change-up is also developing nicely. He also has a better feel, better secondaries, and better command at this stage than Kolek does.  He is an excellent athlete and even competed in the HR derby at the UA game I attended last summer.  He's a potential top of the rotation guy in terms of stuff, even if it may be a tick below the elite arms in this draft.

The risk: Holmes body has little projection at 6'2", 200 lbs so that may limit his upside in some eyes, but the body also offers the potential for the workload demanded from a top of the rotation pitcher.  The front office has said it would take an elite talent for them to take a prep pitcher this high and Holmes may be a notch below that.  Somebody will be happy with this pick.

Lower risk, Moderate upside

These players are wildcards for the Cubs because they have a high enough floor to ensure that the Cubs will get some value here.  In the likely event that there is an absence of a sure thing at #4, there is also the possibility of the Cubs signing one of these two players to a below slot deal to gamble on some higher ceiling talent later in the draft.  An example to illustrate what I mean, fast-riser and 1st round talent Jake Bukauskus has given strong indication that he intends to honor his college commitment to Virginia.  If the Cubs can save a little money at pick #4, they could diversify their risk by getting 2 first round talents.

OF Bradley Zimmer, U. of San Francisco

The ceiling: Zimmer is a good athlete with the potential to stick in CF despite his 6'5" frame. His bat will play well at that position.  He has very good bat speed and the size to hit for plus power, though it has yet to manifest itself in games consistently.  Like his brother Kyle, he has a strong arm that will play well in any OF position.  His approach is good but he will strikeout a bit. For the Cubs, it is a plus that he hits left-handed.

The risk: You can probably get a feel for it by reading between the lines above.  The downside is that he doesn't develop in game power and has to move to a corner as he fills out, but even in the worst scenario he probably hits enough to be a league average corner OF'er, especially given that his speed, athleticism, and arm strength will make him a plus defender.  Not much downside and we know this front office prefers college bats -- and he's the best all-around college position player in this draft.

RHP Aaron Nola, LSU

The ceiling:  Nola is a good bet to be a major league starter because of his plus command and feel for pitching.  His stuff isn't elite but it is plenty good enough.  He features a low 90s fastball that can touch the mid 90s with good movement, and a plus curveball which should be his best offering long term.  For such a polished pitcher, his change-up is surprisingly not at the same level and need some work at the pro level, but if it becomes a solid 3rd offering than the rest of his skills make him a #3 starter, though one scout I know thinks the command will play up the good stuff enough to make him a #2.

The risk:  Nola has a low arm slot that is unusual for a starting pitcher.  If you combine that with a smaller build (6'1, 180) there is some chance he ends up in the bullpen to limit his exposure to LH hitters, who should get a decent look because of his arm slot.

LHP Kyle Freeland, Evansville

The ceiling: Fast riser who has dominated lesser competition. 90-94 mph fastball, plus  slider, and potential for a solid change or better.  There is some projectability left in his 6'4", 195 lbs frame.

The risk: I have heard about as wide an opinion on him as anyone in the draft, so I really had no idea where to put him (I originally had him in the "Others" category at the bottom of the page).  There are concerns about consistency with command and an approach that may not work at pro level as a starter.  Some see a little Chris Sale in him because of his build and his plus slider, while others feel he doesn't have a TOR profile.  He may even end up in the bullpen.  Freeland may go anywhere from the top 10 to the late first round, but #4 seems highly unlikely at this point.

High Risk, High Ceiling

These are the long shots and, frankly, I'd be shocked if the Cubs went in this direction with a front office that tends to be more conservative with their first pick.  It's very possible one of these players ends up being among the best players in this draft class when all is said and done, but the risk may be too great at #4.

3B-OF Jacob Gatewood, H.S. (CA)

The ceiling:  Big time raw power and good defense at 3B.

The risk: He's not an instinctive hitter and it downplays his physical skills.  Some serious bust potential.

RHP Touki Touissant, H.S. (FL)

The ceiling: Great athleticism and arm strength, a FB that can hit the high 90s with some movement, a curve which will draw oohs and ahhs from the crowd.

The risk: Change-up is very raw even for a high schooler and he has very little command.  Top of the rotation talent, but too much of a project for the 4th pick.

RHP Jeff Hoffman, East Carolina

The ceiling: Quite possibly the best raw stuff in the draft when healthy with a fastball that hits 98 and a curve that, along with Kolek's fastball, is the next best pitch in this draft after Rodon's slider. Good feel, solid to plus change, and great athleticism.  A potential ace.

The risk: Other than the obvious fact he is having TJ surgery, Hoffman's command was always a question and it can lag behind raw stuff when a pitcher returns from TJ surgery.  It may never be better than average and that would knock his ceiling down.  Some like his delivery but one scout I know predicted his arm troubles so, depending on your view, he may still need to tweak his delivery when he returns, adding more to the risk.  Good late first round pick but too many questions (now) at #4.

LHP Brandon Finnegan, TCU

The ceiling:  Tremendous arm strength with a FB that hits the upper 90s, solid secondaries, and good pitchability.  Had an excellent year at TCU.

The risk: You don't see a lot of long term MLB starters at 5'11 so that stacks the odds against him.  The velo comes at a price as he is something of a max effort guy and that may have led to some of his shoulder soreness this year.  I saw him pitch as a member of the Collegiate National Team and was wowed with the velo, but ultimately I wrote down that I saw him more as a reliever than a starter.


  • SS Trea Turner, NC State: Great athleticism at premium position but too many questions about the bat and he's been passed by Gordon.
  • OF Michael Conforto, Oregon State: May have best pure college bat in draft but lack of speed/athleticism relegates him to LF and may not have power you like there.
  • RHP Erick Fedde, Nevada: Top 10 stuff and some projection, but injury eliminates him from any consideration.
  • OF Michael Gettys, H.S. (GA): Exciting player. Some will tell you he has the best raw tools of any position player in this class but his hit tool is much to raw to invest a premium pick.
  • C Max Pentecost, Kennesaw State: The best catcher in the draft and catcher is the biggest position player weakness in the Cubs system.  Should stick at catcher, but bat doesn't warrant a top 10 pick -- much less a top 5.


Filed under: 2014 MLB Draft


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  • fb_avatar

    Great write-up, John.

    Touissant sounds a lot like Duane Underwood to me, and Conforto sounds like Josh Vitters. Nice gambles in late first round or early second round; definitely not at number 4.

    I'm not really crazy about anyone there after the three big ones, but Gordon is starting to sound like the best bet for the Cubs right now.

  • perfect game says Nola has the best change up of any pitcher in the draft, conflicting reports it seems.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Yeah, that happens. I will ask around a bit more and see if I can get a majority opinion one way or the other.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    no worries , interestigly the kid from Ames that is commited to Arkansas , name escapes me but He might be a iteresting 2nd rd guy . Callis and Mayo are thinking the Cubs go bat at 4 now .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Keaton McKinney

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    that's it , thanks

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    oh perfect game rates McKinney , assist from Cub Fan Dan as having the best prep change up

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    The answer I got from one scout seems to answer the question well -- he said that he thought Nola indeed had one of the best change-ups in the draft -- that it is MLB quality already., but that he doesn't project it to get much better, so he gave it a solid (55) but not plus future grade.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    AT 55 that is slightly above average MLB quality now, not bad . Could do a lot worse lol . I think Nola is this years guy who people like to just try to find a reason not to like but He just keeps rising in mocks. Every year there is 1 guy like that I guess. Thanks for looking into it John .

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That seems to be the rub with Nola in general, not just his change up. He's very good now against tough college competition, but he isn't likely to get that much better. Is that accurate?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Unfortunately, and this is just my opinion, so take it or leave it, but to me Nola is the baseball equivalent of the Heisman QB who stars in college but doesn't translate to the pro's, i.e. Andre Ware, Danny Wuerfell.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I feel the same way. He's A.J. McCarron.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    McCarron was projected as a mid to late rd pick not top 10 like Nola, bad comp to me . I hope the Cubs take him and He kick arse

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Gino Toretta, Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, Jason White, Matt Leinart, Tim "Can't Throw" Tebow, etc. It's quite a

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Very much so.

  • Beede is an arm you can dream on. I think I'd take his upside over anyone other than the Big 3 at this point.

    Of course, given the spat of injuries to TOR arms this year, I wonder if a team like the Sox might be scared off by these arms or maybe the Cubs go with the best-available hitter in the draft because of those concerns.

    At the end of the day though, it would take balls of titanium for me to pass on Aiken, Kolek, or Rodon.

  • In reply to JB88:

    Agreed -- I'd be shocked if any of the top 3 are there.

  • In reply to JB88:

    Agreed,.... Beede would still be my first go, assuming something wierd doesn't happen that results in Rodon falling to #4. Just like everything I have read about Beede so far (given, that's not extensive to this point).

    Could see going with Gordon, but I'm not convinced about any high school arms as a #4 pick.

    But that's why I work in a science lab - not in a BB front office.

  • If Rodon and Aiken are gone I could see the Cubs going Gordon. Zimmer is starting to intrigue me a little bit.

  • In reply to Javier Bryant:

    Zimmer fits FO profile in many ways.

  • A scout predicting an arm injury for Jeff Hoffman? Seeing as probably 75% of these guys are going to end up having TJS at some point regardless of their mechanics I am not going to put any significance to those type of predictions. Now if the scout had told you Hoffman's mechanics are the reason his command is subpar/inconsistent that would hold more weight to me.

    Gordon, Holmes, Newcomb and Nola all seem reasonable picks to me. I wouldn't even complain if they drafted Hoffman for underslot and then signed overslot guys the next couple of rounds.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Give me and the scout a little credit here :) -- the scout was very specific about why he felt the way he did and yes, it did have to do with mechanical issue(s) he didn't like (and mentioned that in a previous article) but specifics have to be off the record sometimes.

    He didn't throw the prediction around lightly. He specifically singled out Hoffman (and also mentioned Fedde as another possibility). He didn't have strong opinions as to anyone else who had the same level of risk when I pressed him further on the subject.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Okay. I probably didn't give enough credit and I may have missed or forgot that you had brought it up earlier. My bad. Not sure why pointing out a specific mechanic flaw would have to be off the record, but I guess someone could have their reason. Still without the specifics the statement seems very open to interpretation. I mean just because the guy predicted an injury and it came true means nothing on its own given the high rate of injury with pitchers.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    He didn't like his arm action, which is as much as I'll say on that. And like I said, he didn't throw out injury predictions lightly. He was specific about Hoffman -- and he said this on March 18th, well before this rash of injuries started. This guy isn't a young kid starting out, he has been in the game a long, long time.

  • Out of these names, who is most likely to be there for our 2nd round pick?

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Hoffman, Fedde

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If the Cubs managed a draft of let's say Beede and Hoffman/Fedde, I would be over the moon ecstatic. As common as TJ surgeries are these days, though, I would be shocked if either Hoffman/Fedde were available in the second round. Now, if the Cubs could trade back into the supplemental round, that might be a different story ...

  • In reply to JB88:

    As would I, but if you go Hoffman/Fedde in second round, you may want to go safer with the first pick, maybe even Nola or Zimmer.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The trick with that, of course, is that if you draft Nola/Zimmer at 4 and Hoffman and Fedde go off the board before #45, you've really hamstrung your draft.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Beede is pretty safe. No injury history, good size, no commentary (that I've seen) that suggests his pitching motion is an injury waiting to happen.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I could see trying to sign Hoffman as a 2nd round pick - assuming somebody else doesn't pick up the guy before then. He's probably worth waiting for post TJ.

  • Given the arms that the Cubs have been collecting over the past couple years who have tremendous "stuff" but spotty command, I wonder if this is one of the new market inefficiencies the Cubs are targeting. Just off the top of my head, Arrieta, Strop, Rameriz, Grimm, and Underwood are all guys who have or are said to have tremendous "stuff" but lacking control.

    If that is the barometer, then you have to imagine that Hoffman and Beede really are higher on the Cubs' want list than perhaps other teams'.

  • Nice prospect resume, John, thnx. Of course, the MLB Draft is unpredictable, but some reports have Miami taking a position player, so the Cubs could take an elite pitcher if they wish. Even if Miami takes another pitcher with their 1st pick, Beede seems to have the potential that they cherish as a TOR, & would probably be available.

  • In reply to TobaccopouchinIvy:

    I've heard Miami likes Jackson, but I believe they like Kolek and Rodon more.

  • I'm not saying Cubs should take him at 4, but I don't understand how Trea Turner -- previously a consensus top 3 pick, right? -- has fallen so far down and surpassed by a H.S. shortstop. His current stats (.321/.417/.940) are nothing to sneeze at. On top of that he's 22 for 25 in SBs and only 24 SOs in 200 ABs over 33 walks. And he's done it against ACC competition instead of the high school pitchers Gordon has faced, many of whom will likely never play organized baseball after the end of this month.

    I've always felt the biggest risk in the first round is taking a H.S. bat, given how many levels of pitching they have to get through, each exponentially better than the level before. I won't be surprised at all if Turner becomes the best non-pitcher in this draft.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Because scouts don't trust Turner's hit tool, he doesn't hit for enough power, and many are afraid he will eventually move off SS.

    A HS bat may the biggest risk, but past history also has shown that selecting a top 10 HS bat generally has a higher rate of pay than a college bat.

  • In reply to JB88:

    But why do scouts now question his hit tool? I get his avg is down from .368 last year, but his K rate about the same and same doubles and homers, so its not like he has lost power.

    I'd be interested in seeing empirical evidence on Top 10 HS bats. Maybe Vitters has made me so biased against them.

  • In reply to TTP:

    This article is a little off topic, but discusses how there is a correlation between the best prospect in a draft and drafting young.

  • In reply to JB88:

    Thanks for the link.

  • In reply to TTP:

    They have always questioned Trea Turner's hit tool, even when he was hitting well. His off season just solidified doubts they already had.

  • In reply to TTP:

    I like Turner too. High walk rate, high stolen base rate, will cause a distraction for opposing pitchers, good defensively, not too shabby. But I trust our FO to get a good one in the 1st round and the 39 rounds after that.

  • For me it's Gordon vs. Beede and I'd rather try to harness Beede's upside. I don't know as much about Gordon but I've seen people comparing him to Lindor, so it would be hard to complain about that.

    Callis and Mayo debate the #4 pick here...

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    I think if the arms do go 1-3, it'll be between those two. Although John has mentioned he doesn't see them taking Jackson

  • Ty Youngfelt, who I know is connected to many scouts, made the comment on twitter that the White Sox grade out pitching prospects very differently than most teams. He has the following prediction

    #1 Rodon
    #2 Aiken
    #3 Beede
    Cubs- Jackson
    #5 Gordon

    I think if Kolek is there at 4 we've got to take him and it also seems that Gordon is much more the FO's style than Jackson.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I could see the Sox taking Beede. They would see him getting to the majors quickly to help balance their current rotation that has their top 3 starters being LH. Plus the fact that Beede has considerable talent.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I would be very surprised if the Cubs took Jackson based on things I've heard (from non-Cubs people) that make me strongly believe he's not a fit for them. But that is my conclusion, not direct info from anyone.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Damn! I knew their was something about Jackson & the Cubs, as Jackson pretty much separated himself from the pack with is bat this year and yet you seem more sure than ever that Cubs are not going that way. Intriguing! I'm guessing it's maybe something personality wise? I'm guessing Cubs officials saw something they don't like, cuz' it sounds like you've been told by more than one source that the Cubs are going in a different direction?

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I'll just clarify here that it is my own conclusion based on reports I've heard from people outside the Cubs org that lead me to believe he's not a fit with the Cubs based on their pattern so far.

    But nobody has straight out told me they won't draft Jackson -- so if you are a Jackson fan, don't give up hope ;) I could be wrong.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    If memory serves me right, I heard Wilken likes Jackson but the rest of the FO isn't sold.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I thought McCloud was a big fan of Jackson's. At least that's what I heard awhile back

  • In reply to Javier Bryant:

    He did say that. I'm sure he meant it, but whether they pick him at #4 might be a different story.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Aiken over Kolek would seem to be an upset for the Marlins.

  • The Marlins selected Jose Fernandez with the 14th pick in the first round. He was one of two prep arms with FBs 95-97 mph, Dylan Bundy was the other one, taken in the top 15 picks (Archie Bradley was sitting 93-95, touching 96). Both now will have had TJS. Tyler Beede was taken by the Blue Jays with the 21st pick. At the time, his FB was sitting 89-93, sitting 91-92 with easy motion and good mechanics.

    With the recent theory being that young kids throwing too many breaking balls and/or having too much velocity too soon possibly being a reason for major elbow injuries (see Giolito, Lucas), how does this factor into how Kolek and Aiken are perceived. Would the Marlins be scared off of Kolek because of what's happened with Fernandez and these other guys? If so, should the Cubs (who have their own cautionary tale in Kerry Wood) be wary also?

  • I think we all would love to see the Cubs compete in 2016 and I just cannot see the Cubs taking anyone who cant possibly be help in 2016 , 2017 latest, Beede, Nola is who I want not some maybe 2020 guy. sorry but it comes to a point where you need to try to contend , take prep guys after rd 1 for the sustained success part. JMO

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Totally allowed to have your opinion, but I respectfully disagree. Win now acquisitions are what trades and FA signings are for. The draft, especially high first round picks are for the best player available. As Jed Hoyer said, with those type of picks you're buying careers.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    This. Always BPA. When you start drafting for need, especially in baseball, you aren't long for a GM position.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I don't think Beede is a reach , Nola either , both are high 1st rd talents who are near MLB ready at a position of need for the Cubs. guess that is my point and opinion.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Got it. I agree with you on Beede. He's riskier than maybe some of the other guys at #4, but def has the upside. I differ on Nola. He's a safer pick, but it seems the knock on him is he's not likely to get much better than he is right now which puts him most likely as a back of the rotation starter if all goes well. Not enough upside for me with a top 5 pick.

  • fb_avatar

    John, I always squirm a little bit when you use the term "bloodlines."The great majority of characteristics of a good athlete are acquired, not inherited. Nutrition, work habits, reps, coaching, motivation, etc. are far far more important to an athlete's success than who is father was. For every junior Griffey there are a hundred Trevor Gretzky's.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Baseball-related athleticism and traits (i.e. hand-eye coordination. strong wrists/hands, raw arm strength, size, etc,) are inherited. Apart from that, the player has access to coaching, facilities, etc that other players might not have.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I wouldn't be so sure to say that baseball related characteristics are inherited as a blanket statement. So many of these characteristics are acquired through hard work, and of course you don't inherit acquired characteristics. Your second point - access to coaching and facilities - has nothing to do with "bloodlines" - they aren't inherited either. It's a nitpicky point but the word to me just brings up images of eugenics.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Hand-eye coordination and hand/wrist strength, arm speed/strength etc can all be developed, but we'd be naive to say that anybody can develop them to the level of a professional ballplayer -- much of it is genetics. I wouldn't be able to do it no matter how nutritious my diet was or how much I worked out. We are not blank slates that are solely and purely factors of our environment.

    The access was meant to be separate but, again, we'd be naive if we didn't think being the son of a pro ballplayer wouldn't come with some privileges.

    If we're talking eugenics, then we are talking about the deliberate practice of creating such human beings through the breeding of people with the so-called desirable characteristics. That is not what anyone is talking about here.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Interestingly, some of the initial work in regression was based on heights. Someone noticed that tall parents tended to have tall children but that, on average, they tended to be less tall than their parents. (They *regressed* to the population mean.)

    Taking this to the issue at hand, we would expect, on average, players' sons to be less talented their father but still much better than the average man on the street. However, every now and then you expect to find a son who is better than their father. Ken Griffey, Jr. is the obvious example. Daz Cameron and Nick Gordon are too soon to say on, but they could also join that group.

    (In semi-technical jargon, any professional athlete is a six-sigma outlier in terms of athletic ability. Many, if not most, of these come from a remarkably high error term. However, sons -- and daughters -- of athletes have a higher base to which that error term is applied, making them more likely than a guy off the street to reach that rare level of ability.)

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Gordon profiles as an outstanding player and the bloodlines are a plus. Gretzky had holes in his swing that you coukd drive a truck through and I really didn't like the pick.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    Agreed. You aren't the only one. A lot of people weren't crazy about that pick.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    We should have picked Zimmer in Gretzky's slot instead of the 23rd round. He might have signed for 7th round money.

  • One would think that with the preponderance of video on players nowadays and the emphasis on scouting, information and identifying market inefficiencies, teams should be able to put together a study of pitchers who have gotten the dreaded surgery and those who haven't. With so much data available, they should be able to look at their mechanics, history of how early they achieved 95+ velocity, how early and often they were throwing sliders, and any other categories of data, and come up with a profile of a pitcher who is more likely to get this type of injury.

    I'm sure at least some teams are and have been doing this kind of study even though it would take many man hours and a sophisticated level of analysis to complete. I'm also sure that if they had, they wouldn't be sharing their findings with anyone. Perhaps this is why the Cubs haven't gone pitcher since Theo & Co. took over. Of course, we've only had two drafts of theirs to watch.

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    TJ recommended for Jose Fernandez. That just sucks.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Wow. This has been what seems like a crazy run of Pitchers/Prospects going down with Arm troubles. On the bright side, the ones that are elbows, have a really good chance of coming back solid again, as TJ surgery has had a very good success rate in recent years...but still, it's rough. I wonder if Front Offices will start scouting durability and injury/mechanics progression just as much as "stuff" in the near future or at the very least assign a higher value to that part of the overall player rating.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Losing Jose Fernandez hurts. He reminds me so much of Kerry Wood -- bursting on the scene as a very young rookie and stealing the spotlight everywhere he went. And then a year later shut down by TJ surgery. I hope Fernandez's return is a lot better than Wood's.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's a really good comp. Both Rookie of the Year winners. Kid K was absolutely electric in his first year - the 18 & 20 K games were unreal -and just like Fernandez people thought that because they were big strong kids that they would be injury free workhorses. Wood lasted 26 games before he went under the knife and Fernandez went 36 games before TJ. It took Kid K two years, a year off for the surgery and a year to regain his form again, but he did have three 200 K season in a row after that. Never the same though and he was on the disabled list 14 times in 13 seasons. TJ surgery has gotten much better since then statistically though, and if Dr. Andrews does it, we could easily see JF looking like a stud again. Shoulders on the other hand....

  • I am worried in drafting HS players who might not sign and anybody
    represented by Boras

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Alex Jackson is the only guy who fits that description as far as guys who are in the Cubs range.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Although I think the chance of Alex Jackson not signing at #4 are greatly minimized even with Boras. $4,621,200 is good money at slot value and probably too much for him to pass up. Now if he drops out of the top 10 then I would have serious reservations unless you are prepared to go over slot.

  • Totally off topic, but I love Junior Lake's swing. Compact, no wrap, still, quick and powerful. And I hate his pitching recognition and discipline. What to do?

  • Nothing has changed for me, Tyler Beede should still be the pick. Ace upside, size, athleticism, projection, stuff...and still the same question as before, i.e. Can he repeat his delivery and hit the same release point. When he does he is an absolute stud and easily worthy of the #4 pick, so the question remains the same, do the Cubs believe they can fix whatever is causing him to get off track. If they believe they can, then the pick is an easy one.

  • Funny how Gordon possesses a 'good pitcher's frame' at 6'2 170/180 while Nola has 'a smaller build (6'1 180)'. Game of inches...

  • In reply to Ben20:

    6'2" is about average for a pitcher, so Nola is on the smaller side, but I wouldn't call him terribly small, but Gordon is also younger and more likely to fill out his frame as he matures. I tried to separate that by using "frame" and "build", in my lingo the former implies it can possibly be added to while the latter implies that that's what he is.

  • Hi John,

    Excellent stuff! I sincerely appreciate all the effort you put into the site, especially the effort with this year's draft. Thanks!

  • In reply to Boogens:

    Thanks. This draft has been a lot more fun to me because it is so much fluid, especially starting at the Cubs pick.

  • I wish the Cubs were lower down around 8 or so, then they could draft a player and not say it was a reach. I think they should just draft the player they see as the best player for the team, even if he isn't projected as a top 5 pick. Like Nola or Newcomb. I'm pretty sure we would all take Wacha on the Cubs right now, but he would have been a "reach" at the 6th pick. I really hope Rodon somehow falls to us, been a fan of his for a few years now.

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    I think Wacha could have been picked at the 6th pick and certainly top 10 and nobody would have flinched. It was surprising for him to drop as far as he did.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I am still very happy with Almora as the pick! If I remember correctly John, didn't scouts think Wacha might end up as a reliever because he only had 2 pitches? Would you be upset if the Cubs still selected Hoffman with the 4th pick?

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    I don't know about upset, but I would be disappointed. Too much risk at #4 -- evens some risk before he got hurt.

  • Good stuff John... It seems to me like Alex Jackson is the most realistic option, seeing how this FO works and the possibility of Jackson being able to move to 3B or LF later in his career.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Thanks...though as Ive said, I don't see Jackson as the pick based on opinions/conclusions drawn from my own info. I could be wrong, but he's not the guy I would project at #4.

  • Hey John,

    long time no post. I've been following this draft pretty closely. Something that has been bothering me is that I've been disappointed with a lot of our later round picks in previous drafts. Yeah, we got it right on K. Bryant, and probably Almora and Baez will turn into pretty good players if not superstars.

    All that said, that Zastrynzny pick has been disappointing. Very disappointing. I did not like that pick at the time and I like it even less now. The Hanneman pick in the 3rd round is also looking dubious IMO. Great athlete, but it is so difficult to translate tools into skills even for great athletes. It doesn't help that he took so much time off from playing baseball and is older than the competition he is facing. Look, if he were a 6th round pick and signed under the old rules I'd be psyched for selecting him. I'd be very happy under those circumstances, but I just don't think this Cubs regime is doing a good enough job with picks in rounds 2-10 under these new rules.

    My personal choice for #4 goes like this:

    1. LHP - C. Rodon (yeah he has been pushed too hard/injury concerns, but you can't pass on this kind of talent)

    2. RHP - T. Kolek

    3. LHP - B. Aiken

    4. C/OF - A. Jackson (best bat in the draft with the highest upside, especially if they allow him to stay at C if he wants. Even still, I think he could be our version of W. Myers)

    5. RHP - J. Hoffman (Yes, I would still take him but hopefully we get a discount because he will miss time recovering from TJ surgery.)

    I want nothing to do with T. Beede or OF M. Gettys. Really I want to avoid any HS position player/pitcher with that high a pick unless they are a special talent way above their peers.

    I hope Rodon falls to the Cubs personally, but I am still very high on A. Jackson. I think he will develop into a special hitter in time

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Thanks! Good to hear from you again. Those two are the upside picks so I can understand why you and others would lean that way, but I'm not sold on Jackson and Hoffman is too big a risk at #4, way too big.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    MLB drafts are judged 4-5 years after at minimum,so you being dissapointed with the 2013 picks is a bit ridiculous. I wasn't a big fan (and I'm still not) of the Zastryzny pick but I know better than to pass judgement 10 months after the draft. The MLB draft is a marathon not a sprint.I know this is a Cubs blog where opinions will vary, but it just gets under my skin when random fans think they are smarter/better equipped to judge front office decisions. The Cubs front office spent 18 hours a day for months going over tape, scouting reports, talking to scouts, watching prospects, and some fan who read a few blurbs on the draft thinks he knows better than Theo/Jed. It's just a bit laughable.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    By the way "I miss ron santo", I didn't meant that you're comment was laughable. After reading my comment it comes off a lot harsher than I intended, and the latter part wasn't directed specifically at your comment.

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    So John looks into his crystal ball and sees that the Cubs at #4 will pick...

  • Excellent writeup, thanks.

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