This is a big night for the Cubs.
Will they add a top arm to their stable of young bats? Or will they simply draft the best player available? GM Jed Hoyer has stated on many occasions that they will do the latter.
Or will it be plan C? They may go underslot with the fourth pick and then invest more funds in the later rounds. The recent talk has focused on the under slot route if you listen to the media and Keith Law. I just have a hunch they will go with who they truly feels represents fourth-pick worthiness.
One source tells me the Cubs board includes these names, in unknown order:
Brady Aiken, Carlos Rodon, Nick Gordon, Max Pentecost, Michael Conforto, and one more unknown that he believes to be Kyle Schwarber.
Apparently the Cubs brass isn't so keen on Tyler Kolek. Baseball Prospectus's Jason Parks weighed in on Kolek and some other final Cubs draft thoughts with me today.
I asked Parks if he was leaning towards Gordon as the pick after reading Baseball Prospectus final mock draft.
"That's one of the Cubs targets," says Parks. "Marlins ownership wants Rodon; others in org want Jackson. Gordon to Cubs makes sense if Rodon is gone. Kolek comes w/ considerable risk. I've seen it, so I get (Cubs apprehension) it. He throws 100; huge body; hasn't faced heavy competition. I'd pass that early," he said.
"I'd take Gordon or Aaron Nola over Kolek. I get the velo and size/strength, but the pitchability will need a lot of work. Nola is underrated," he said.
Ok, let's check in with some other peeps whose opinions I value when it comes to the Cubs, amateur players and their latest best guesses.
If it unfolds like this, my guess would be Gordon. Not only could he save the Cubs a little bit of money for later in the draft, he has some serious offensive upside and plays a premium position very well. With his plus speed, advanced approach from the left side, plus arm and overall instincts for the game, he’s a potential superstar in the making.
In an ideal world, the Cubs would have a chance to take either Aiken or Rodon, and they may have a chance at Rodon should the Marlins select Alex Jackson. Recent word indicates that they've focused their attention on Gordon, which may indicate they know how the top of the draft is going to shake out.
In the end, it wasn't all that complicated. Gordon is the best player available. He checks all the boxes.
Middle of the field player? Check
High Ceiling? Check
High Floor? Check
Strong makeup? Check
Proven talent with a track record? Check,
It also helps that he is left-handed and yes, that his father was a good ballplayer in his own right and his brother is succeeding now.
Looks like the Cubs may end up with another shortstop. Like we said before, you can never have enough of those.
Let's also take a gander at the underslot candidates our source indicated were in play, analysis courtesy of @DanMKirby.
Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, Indiana
I like Schwarber here as his offensive potential is crazy. He has immense power from the left side and an advanced approach. If he can’t stick behind the plate, first base seems like a likely destination, although he is athletic and his strong arm could work in a corner outfield spot. The 6’ 1”, 240 pound left-handed hitter is hitting .358/.464/.659 with 16 doubles, six triples, 14 home runs and has drawn 44 walks to 30 strikeouts through 59 games. He has added 10 stolen bases.
Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State
Pentecost put his name into the first round after winning the MVP at the Cape Cod League over the summer and continued to impress all spring. The 6’ 1”, 190 pound right-hander is a great athlete with a strong arm that could easily handle a corner outfield spot if he doesn’t stick behind the plate. He is hitting .416/.470/.624 through 59 games with 21 doubles, nine home runs and 24 walks to just 25 strikeouts, showing a very good approach at the plate. He has also gone 16-for-18 in stolen base attempts, showing above-average speed.
Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
Arguably the best college hitter in the 2014 MLB draft, Conforto has an advanced approach at the plate and can hit the ball hard to all fields. At 6’-3” and 215 pounds, the left-handed hitter should continue to add power as he matures. He is an average defender in left, but he has a very accurate arm. Through 59 games, he is hitting .345/.504/.547 with 16 doubles, seven home runs and has drawn 55 walks to 38 strikeouts. Another guy with a strong track record of hitting.
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