Thursday marks the start of the 2016 MLB Draft. However, this year is different compared to recent years. The Cubs do not have a top ten pick. The Cubs do not even have a first round pick, or a second round pick. Yes, it's true, the Cubs first selection in the 2016 MLB Draft will not come until the third round at pick number 104. This also means that the Cubs will have to wait until Friday before making their first overall selection. So to hold you over we've decided to go ahead and do a round table for who we think the Cubs should draft with their first overall pick. You should also read THIS in conjunction to this post.
Zach Linginfelter, RHP – Sevier County High School (Tennessee)
As I wrote up yesterday, I expect the Cubs to go with a high-upside arm with their first pick in the draft. However, due to their small allotment pool, high-school pitchers could be a tough sign. Still, for this pick I went with the big-bodied Zach Linginfelter out of Sevierville, Tennessee, very close to the Smokies park. Standing at 6'5" and 220 pounds, there isn't a ton of room for projection with his body, but he doesn't need it.
In terms of stuff, his fastball sat 91-93 when I saw him the UA All-American Game, although he backed up later on in the spring (88-92) with occasional sink and arm-side life. His second pitch is more of a slurve at the moment, sitting in the 78-83 range, and the pitch is sharp but doesn't offer much depth. He'll also show a changeup, although it will need a lot more development.
Baseball America had this to say about his delivery "His arm action is on the longer side and it includes a curled wrist in the back, giving some evaluators concerns about his ability to repeat his arm slot and find a consistent release for his breaking ball." Once projected to go in the first 50 picks, Linginfelter didn't play for much of the spring due to an illness, which dropped his value a bit. If the Cubs are able to sign him away from his University of Tennessee commitment, I believe it'd be a great pick. – Ted Eley
Dalton Feeney, RHP - Century High School (North Dakota)
If you've seen McLeod's comments on the Cubs upcoming draft strategy, you know the focus is on pitching. With the teams first pick coming in the 3rd round, the Cubs scouting department was tasked with finding a hidden "gem" for lack of a better term with such a late pick. Looking at realistic options, I believe that RHP Dalton Feeney could wind up being a solid option for the Cubs. Fenney stands at a solid 6'2" 200 lbs and was named Gatorade State Player of the year in both baseball and football in North Dakota.
On the mound, his fastball has been clocked as high as 96 mph but seems to sit in the low 90's consistently. Scouts agree that he pairs his fastball with a plus curveball and could later develop an average changeup. The righty finished his senior season at 5-1 with a 0.17 ERA in 41.1 innings which included two perfect games. The only caution is he did have elbow issues but was able to avoid Tommy John surgery after taking some time off. He is currently committed to the University of Missouri, but I believe if the Cubs do take him with their first pick, there is a good chance they could sign him. – Josh Murray
Zack Hess, RHP – Liberty Christian Academy (Virginia)
This pick was a toss-up for me. I debated between many players, some of which I went ahead and listed in the “Other Names To Consider” section below. Ultimately, I ended up picking Hess. At 6’6” 220 lb., Hess is an imposing force on the mound with great arm strength capable of generating upper 90’s heat with his fastball. Coupled with his fastball is a pretty good slider that bites hard and sits in the low 80’s. Despite having two very good pitches, Hess lacks a changeup that’s usable. He’ll need to work to refine it at the next level. One shouldn’t worry too much though, most high school pitchers have question marks when it comes to the quality of their changeup.
Hess’ mechanics could use some smoothening out, but again, that’s something that can be tinkered with at the next level. The biggest question that is surrounding Hess right now is whether he is signable or not. I think he is if he’s taken within the first four rounds, despite having committed to LSU, which has a very good baseball program. I like his upside, and that’s why I think he’d be a good fit for the Cubs with their 1st overall pick (#104). – Cameron Kmen
Best Case Scenario:
Nick Banks, OF – Texas A&M (Texas)
I went back and forth with this pick, as the problem with this question is that it'd be very difficult to sign a high-schooler that dropped due to the Cubs not having enough money to disuade the player from college. This left me with deciding between college players. Kyle Funkhouser got back on track his last few starts, so I expect him to be gone by then. The other player I was considering was Matt Krook, a lefty out of Oregon who had TJ surgery a couple years ago and struggled with command this year, but I think he'll go back to Eugene to regain value (still just a red-shirt sophomore).
Although I think they'll go with a pitcher, Nick Banks at this spot is too much to pass up on. Going into the year, the Texas A&M outfielder was looked at as a potential top 10 pick. He has really struggled this year at the plate, and many don't think he's a CF, better fitted for right. Also, he suffered from a back injury this year and started very slowly at the plate. When at his best, the lefty has a gap-to-gap approach, although he became too pull-happy this spring. He shows above-average raw power, and has hit for average and drawn walks in the past. If drafted, Banks would prove to be a project for the developmental staff, but all the tools are there for him to succeed. – Ted Eley
Braeden Ogle, LHP - Jensen Beach High School (Florida)
The chances of Ogle falling to the Cubs is slim at best, but I can hope, right? The lefty is one of the best pitchers in the state of Florida and is currently committed to UF. He's a big prospect standing at 6'3" and has shown flashes with his fastball topping out at 96 mph. Ogle has an athletic and sometimes rushed delivery, which has led to some control issues. In just over 60 innings, he recorded five wins to go along with a 2.08 ERA and 63 k's. He has high ceiling potential, but with most high school pitching prospects, it is all projectable at this time. It would be a gift, but if a lefty with his ability actually falls in Thursday's draft, it could be a steal for the Cubs. – Josh Murray
Reggie Lawson, RHP – Victor Valley High School (California)
One can only hope, right? Last year while browsing video of Peter Lambert (Drafted by the Rockies in 2015), I stumbled across Reggie Lawson. Lawson has been a favorite of mine since last winter, and if you asked me earlier in the season where I think he’d go in this draft, I would have told you late 1st round or the 1st comp round. However, that has changed significantly over the spring. Lawson went down with a minor injury and decided not to pitch for the rest of the spring. Subsequently, he has been falling on draft boards.
Whether he will fall to the 3rd round remains to be seen, but it’s looking like it might become a possibility. He’s committed to Arizona State University, which is a good school, but I believe that going pro is a much better choice for high school pitchers (if drafted high). Overall, the coaches are better and you forgo the risk an injury killing your value during the three years you have to wait to be redrafted.
Lawson comes in at 6’4” 185 lb., means there’s still some projection left in the tank for him. His fastball sits in the low 90’s, but there could be a bit more in there as he fills out. He features a big breaking curveball that sits in the low to mid 70’s and is capable of generating a lot of whiffs. One of the reasons I liked Lawson so much after watching video of his is his clean mechanics. Everything he does looks incredibly easy. – Cameron Kmen
Other Names To Consider:
Keegan Akin, LHP – Western Michigan (Michigan)
Nick Hanson, RHP – Prior Lake Christian HS (Minnesota)
Tyler Mondile, RHP – Gloucester Catholic HS (New Jersey)
Charles King, RHP – Coppell HS (Texas)
A big thanks to MLB.com and Baseball America for providing information on these players.
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