MLB Draft Primer: Potential Cubs collegiate hitter targets

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Safe hit tool:

IF/OF Michael Busch - 6.0 207, L/R (BA: 25, FG: 20, MLB: 28)

SS Braden Shewmake - 6.4 190, L/R (BA: 27, FG: 38, MLB: 25)

MI Will Wilson - 6.0 175, R/R (BA: 23, FG: 21, MLB: 23)

1B Logan Wyatt - 6.4 230, L/L (BA: 28, FG: NR, MLB: 49)

2B Chase Strumpf - 5.11 197, R/R (BA: 44, FG: 45, MLB: 40)

3B Davis Wendzel - 6.1 200, R/R (BA: 69, FG: NR, MLB: 47)

Michael Busch possesses a smooth swing with decent pop and patience. He is going to hit, but the question is where you play him. He is an undersized first baseman who has experience at 2B and LF. If the Cubs believe enough in the bat, like they did with Kyle Schwarber, they'll figure out the defensive home later.

Infielder Braden Shewmake has very good barrel control, but unlike Nico Hoerner last year, his power potential is limited as Shewmake is most comfortable as a front foot hitter. He does a good job keeping his hands back in hitting position though, and shows off an impressive ability to adjust and barrel up the ball even when he gets fooled. He's grown on me the more I watch him as he is a better athlete than I originally thought. The arm strength and range are borderline to remain at shortstop, and although he has always been wiry he could eventually outgrow it and remove all doubt, but he has experience all over the infield and should settle in as a solid defender wherever he ends up.

Considered a steady but unspectacular defender at shortstop in the college ranks, scouts are split on where Will Wilson ends up in pro ball. Second base seems most likely, but third is also an option, and short is not out of the question. No one doubts his bat speed though. Wilson has an impressive three-season track record in the ACC. His wood bat experience is lacking, and there are some who question how much his power will translate to the pros given his swing is geared more toward line drives.

There isn't a hitter in the draft considered to have a better idea of the strike zone than Louisville first baseman Logan Wyatt. He should hit for average as well, but there is questions as to how much power will have as a pro. The raw power is there, but Wyatt focuses more on contact. I can definitely see the Cubs being attracted to his on-base skills (led Cape Cod League in walks) and hit tool, as long as they are comfortable with drafting a 1B-only defender.

I couldn't find much video on Chase Strumpf, but the scouting reports agree the hit tool and plate discipline are there, and from the little I've seen I do like his swing. The issue seems to be that Strumpf can struggle to make anything beyond routine plays at second base so his bat will have to carry him.

A solid all-around player, Davis Wendzel lacks speed but the rest of his tools play. He's a good defender at the hot corner. At the plate, Wendzel works deep counts and takes a gap-to-gap approach. If he chooses, Wendzel possesses pull power he could tap into more frequently. He doesn't show up very high in the rankings I've seen but I think he ends up going higher in the draft than he is projected.

Upside:

3B Kody Hoese - 6.4 200, R/R (BA: 30, FG: 25, MLB: 27)

OF Kameron Misner - 6.4 219, L/L (BA: 21, FG: 26, MLB: 19)

SS Logan Davidson - 6.3 185, S/R (BA: 19, FG: 24, MLB: 24)

1B/OF Mike Toglia - 6.5 201, S/R (BA: 60, FG: 54, MLB: 39)

SS Greg Jones - 5.11 170, S/R (BA: 61, FG: 41, MLB: 48)

The one hitter I have the least information and access to video on is Tulane third baseman Kody Hoese. He hit just 5 home runs his first two college seasons combined, but tapped into his potential this year. He's become one of the top collegiate hitters, but there are questions regarding his level of competition, and although there doesn't seem to be concern he will move off the hot corner, he also isn't projected to be a great defender there.

Missouri outfielder Kameron Misner is often projected as mid-to-late 1st round pick, and he does have an impressive power-speed combo, but I don't view him as a fluid athlete. There is a risk Misner will struggle to make contact, which could limit him to being a mistake hitter. He's a boom-or-bust pick in my eye.

The same is true of Clemson shortstop Logan Davidson. A switch-hitter with bat speed from both sides of the plate, I have some minor quibbles with his mechanics, but nothing he shouldn't be able to clear up. His hands and arm are adequate for shortstop, but his range is an open question, especially if he continues to fill out. He has struggled in wood bat leagues, and there are swing-and-miss concerns. If he was sure to stick at short I would feel more comfortable taking a risk on the bat reaching its full potential, but the combo of both worries me.

I don't often see UCLA 1B/COF Mike Toglia projected as a 1st rounder, but I can envision it happening. He is a good athlete and defender at first base, who is also capable of playing an adequate corner outfield. That versatility, alongside the untapped offensive potential makes him an intriguing option.

Speed. A true 80-grade runner, Greg Jones will immediately become one of the fleetest of foot in pro ball as soon as he signs. He has the arm and range to remain at shortstop, even if his hands aren't ideal. He made strides at the plate this season, smoothing out his swing from both sides, leading to higher contact rates. There is still additional upside and even a bit of power potential, but there is also plenty of risk with the hit tool.

Comments

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  • They should draft hitters with their first 2 picks

  • Unless the top HS pitcher is available

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    After all of the trades and promotions the last few years, this system needs more “ceiling” guys. If the Cubs are determined to go with a college player at 26 I’d go with Hoese or SP Seth Johnson. Gotta take some risks when you’re picking this low year after year...

  • In reply to Grandpaboy1967:

    Johnson will be showing up in the pitching list I'll publish next week.

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    I think you know my druthers. Greg Jones hands down. He’s got game changing speed and arm enough to stay at SS. Most of the others might hit, but most have fringy arms to stay at short or no defined position or plus power. A first round pick should have at least a plus or plus plus quality to their game.

  • I have been at Texas A&M since Shewmake was a freshman. He can play. He is pretty much the only decent hitter on the team though, causing him to press at times and lose his approach. I think he could stick at SS, but if not he could easily move to 2B/3B

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    In reply to Mnozilman:

    A question because you’ve seen him play. If he can’t stay at short how does he have the arm to play at 3rd?

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    From what I understand the SS usually has the best arm on the team. The reason for this is that often it is the SS who goes deep in the hole, almost behind the 3B and has to throw to first after moving "away from the play." That may be incorrect but that's my understanding.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    For me it’s more of a fluidity thing than an arm strength issue. He’s 6’4. There’s a reason you don’t see 6’4 SS around the league. He’s athletic, but it’s not always smooth. I would also expect him to fill out. He’s pretty skinny right now and I think that will only hurt his chances to stick at SS long term

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    We need pitching in the organization, if you haven't noticed,our last picks in the draft (Lange and Little have been busts) either we are deficient in scouting pitching or we are not taking them early enough.
    If you look at the IFA you will notice in the top 30 prospects signed there are only maybe 2-4 pitchers selected, that is the place to get some hitting, which we did the year we took Jimenez and Torres, and we also had more money then I'll grant you.
    I don't really want anyone to tell me we have some relievers coming and we are about to see some fruitions paying off in the coming years, if you look at our record of drafting and developing pitchers it has been abysmal since Epstein has been here, either he doesn't have the scouts or people in charge of scouting , it's still a bad mark on his leadership.

  • I think the Cubs Org has the scouts and people in charge of scouting in place, but I believe the problem is their "criteria" for evaluating pitchers.

  • Thanks for this excellent breakdown of potential available hitters for the Cubs, Michael. To me, the three names here who do not fit the FO's profile are Shewmake, Jones, and Misner. They want no doubts at all about the hitting tool when drafting their #1 guy. That's a fairly obvious major criteria for them.

    Part of me thinks that drafting this late in the 1st round, they may try to go for a "high ceiling" HS pitcher. I hope they don't do this. They have shown zero propensity to develop pitching in their system. One of the few weaknesses they have, IMHO, so why draft where you are weak? They should draft where their strength lies, and that is solid hitting.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Shewmake has a good hit tool, its the power that is the question with him.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I believe you, but this FO looks for all-around hit tool when drafting in the 1st round. Lack of power is a deal-killer, from what I've seen in their drafts. I'm just talking 1st round. There will probably be better all-around hitters at that slot, and that is probably who they will choose.

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