Another Top 10 pitching prospect went down and this time it was one of our favorite sleepers here -- Nevada RHP Erick Fedde.
While it is doubtful the Cubs would have picked Fedde this high, he was a fast riser this season and is the second big name pitcher to undergo TJ surgery.
I can't say that I'm all that surprised. The same scout who told me he was worried about Jeff Hoffman also expressed concerns about Fedde's delivery -- and they are not the only ones.
You have Carlos Rodon, who has taken on a big workload for his entire collegiate career and had some high pitch counts recently. LHP Brandon Finnegan reportedly had some shoulder soreness, though there doesn't seem to be a great deal of concern there. And you always have to worry about prep pitchers who throw so hard early in their amateur career, such as Tyler Kolek.
The Cubs are suddenly sitting in a very interesting position. The consensus top 3 players are pitchers: Roden, Kolek, and Brady Aiken. The Cubs have the 4th pick. We do know they'll take the Best Player Available.
"You're buying careers, you're not buying seasons," Hoyer said in distinguishing the philosophies of major league baseball and the NFL. "You want to find the guy whose career you're going to feel very good about. It doesn't mean you have certain things you look for, like certain fits.
"When you start drafting for need in baseball, given the fact these players aren't going to be here for a few years, you can make a lot of mistakes."
But is that BPA at #4 going to be a pitcher? If one of the top 3 fall to the Cubs, I think they still have to take that chance unless there is some hard evidence for concern.
The Cubs may well get a crack at the best position player in the draft and then, for the 3rd straight year, attack pitching with volume. It makes sense that with the sudden increase in risk when it comes to pitchers, that you may be best off stocking up on pitchers and safeguard for injury attrition rather than make a major "all your eggs in one pitching basket" investment at such a premium pick -- especially if you don't believe that top of the rotation guy isn't going to be there.
All pitchers expected to be available at #4 have their shortcomings. Finnegan is shorter than you would like. There just aren't a lot of 5'11" pitchers who have had long careers as starters in the modern era. Beede has the size, stuff, and athleticism you want, but command is the concern Nola is also not particularly big and lacks the ceiling of the previous, but he's a safe bet to be a #4, maybe a #3 -- but can't you get a pitcher with that kind of upside later in the draft? Is it worth a 4th pick? Grant Holmes is also intriguing but the Cubs have said for them to pick a prep pitcher this high, he has to be a "once in a generation talent". Does the consensus 3rd best prep arm in the draft fit that description? I doubt it, though there are some teams out there that like him better than Kolek. He is definitely the most well-rounded.
There is plenty of talent available in the 2nd round. It's loaded with high ceiling pitching talent. We listed 5 college arms and 5 high school pitchers who could interest the Cubs in the 2nd round and the draft is deep enough where the Cubs can once again focus heavily on pitchers in rounds 2-10.
If you're not going to get a shot at a pitcher you think can be a top of the rotation starter at #4, maybe the best route is to stock up later as they have the previous two years. By all means if the BPA is a pitcher, take him -- but there is absolutely no reason for the Cubs to reach for a pitcher with that kind of premium pick.
For me, the BPA outside of the top 3 is prep SS Nick Gordon (4th overall on Keith Law's list). Alex Jackson may also fit that description for many teams, including the Cubs. He wouldn't be my choice but an argument could be made that he has the best bat speed and best overall position player in the draft.
A couple hitters who may interest the Cubs in the college ranks are Bradley Zimmer (ranked 5th overall by Law) and Michael Conforto. We've talked about Zimmer as an all-around, athletic player with a good chance to stick in CF. If there is a concern, it's that his in-game power lags behind his batting practice power. If the Cubs can think he can bridge that gap, then he's an interesting alternative to Gordon given the Cubs preference for college bats. Conforto is a great pure hitter and a safe to do so as a pro, but the fact that he is a leftfielder only puts a lot of burden on that bat -- and he may not have the big power you like at that position.
If it were me, I'd go Nick Gordon at #4 and go for a pitcher like one of the pitchers on the lists linked above. I'd also be thrilled to get Luke Weaver in the 2nd round if he lasts that long. I liked Weaver when I got to see him pitch for Team USA and one scout compares him to Tim Hudson because of his slighter build, stuff, and athleticism.
Filed under: 2014 MLB Draft