My Barely Informed Recap of the Cubs Day 2 Draft

My Barely Informed Recap of the Cubs Day 2 Draft

Cubs and baseball twitter is an especially fun follow the days of the draft. Exhibit A:

 

If you followed me (@dabynsky) or better yet more informed draft experts you are aware that the consensus is the Cubs did well on day 2. That the picks the Cubs made yesterday make more sense now as the Cubs utilized the potential savings on overslot candidates that they set up for on Day 1. The Cubs also addressed clear areas of need as the positional break down of the draft officially was 2 catchers and 8 pitchers. Here is the breakdown of day 2. All player names have a link to some video of them with the first seven picks coming from MLB.com and the last three from various sources posting to Youtube. The scouting reports underneath the name come from MLB.com.  The team-specific Cubs draft tracker is here.

Round 3- Catcher Mark Zagunis

Rank: 149
Virginia Tech, Junior
Height: 6'0", Weight: 190
Position: C
DOB: 3/28/1996
Bats: R, Throws: R
Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
A three-year starter at Virginia Tech and a Johnny Bench Award semifinalist, Zagunis is an athletic catcher who has performed in one of the better college conferences in the nation.

The ACC standout has shown a propensity for putting the ball in play and hitting for average, albeit from a slightly unusual setup. He's shown some extra-base pop in the past, though not as much in 2014. He runs extremely well for a catcher and has shown that his athleticism plays well in the outfield. His arm is average but on target, and his other skills say he could stay behind the plate full-time.

The team that believes he can continue to hit might think he has the chance to be an everyday backstop in the future, and it will draft him accordingly. At the very least, Zagunis' versatility provides a team with options if catching doesn't work out.

Dan Kirby threw out a Jason Kendall comp during a Cubs Insider piece before the start of day 2. That would be a nice outcome since most seem to believe that first round pick Kyle Schwarber is unlikely to stick behind the plate. Here are some of my thoughts about that situation from yesterday if you missed it. The bigger news in terms of the immediate future was this:

 

Round 4- LHP Carson Sands

Rank: 53
North Florida Christian HS (Fla.), Senior
Height: 6'3", Weight: 200
Position: LHP
DOB: 3/28/1995Bats: L, Throws: L
Twitter: @southpawsands
Commitment: Florida State
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Along with Matthew Railey, his North Florida Christian teammate and fellow Florida State commit, Sands has seen his stock increase this spring.

Sands' rise has been partly attributable to the strength gains he has made over the past year. That led to a jump in his fastball velocity, and he now throws the pitch in the low 90s, regularly touching 94 mph. He also throws a solid 12-to-6 curveball and has a good feel for his changeup. He repeats his delivery well, allowing him to throw strikes with all three of his pitches.

Sands' strong season, size, stuff and projectability have helped push him up Draft boards as more scouts see him pitch.

Carson Sands is the first of the two overslot candidates the Cubs took. At the time I couldn't help but think that if the Cubs had drafted Sands in the second round and then Stinnett and Zagunis in rounds 3 and 4 that the discussion would be how great the Cubs were doing. The reason the Cubs didn't do that was because Sands fell due to his bonus demands and Stinnett likely wouldn't have been available when picking at 78 for round 3. Speaking of bonus demands here:

 

Round 5- LHP Justin Steele

Rank: 122
George County HS (Miss.), Senior
Height: 6'1", Weight: 180
Position: LHP
DOB: 7/11/1995
Bats: L, Throws: L
Commitment: Southern Mississippi
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Not since 1999, when the Braves took Matt Butler in the second round, has a Mississippi high school pitcher signed out of the first five rounds of the Draft. A lefty with a loose, quick arm, Steele should end that drought this June.

Steele baffled scouts at the East Coast Professional Showcase last summer, when he ran his fastball into the low 90s but later dipped to the mid-80s. He has done a better job of holding his velocity this spring, working at 88-92 mph and reaching back for 94-95 on occasion. He's better when he throws with less effort in his delivery and gets more quality life on his heater.

Steele's curveball used to stick out more for its shape than its velocity, but he has boosted it from the upper 60s to the low 70s as a senior. His changeup has some movement, but the Southern Mississippi recruit tips it off by slowing his arm speed and doesn't trust it much. Though he's athletic, his lack of size and true command could have him destined for the bullpen.

Steele was a player that appeared to be drafted right about where he was supposed to be. He was drafted 139th overall and was ranked 122nd by MLB.com. He also appears to be going pro given what local sports writers are saying suggesting that he probably is getting around slot money.

 

Round 6- RHP Dylan Cease

Rank: 76
Milton HS (Ga.), Senior
Height: 6'2", Weight: 175Position: RHP
DOB: 12/28/1995
Bats: R, Throws: R
Twitter: @NewDylanCease7
Commitment: Vanderbilt
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Cease is one of the hardest throwing high school pitchers in the 2014 Draft class, but he was dealt a significant setback this spring. He suffered an elbow injury that has kept him off the mound since March, leaving his future uncertain.

When healthy, Cease throws his fastball from 91-95 mph, topping out at 97 mph. He doesn't have a physical frame, instead generating his velocity with athleticism and arm speed. There is some effort to his delivery, and the rest of his game may remain inconsistent until he refines it.

His mid-70s curveball will range from a below-average to an above-average pitch, and his changeup shows flashes of becoming an effective offering, but he'll need to throw it more often.

Cease, who plays with his twin brother at Milton High, is committed to Vanderbilt.

Cease is the highest risk/reward player the Cubs took in the first two days of the draft. The downside and the reason he was available in the sixth round is that he might need Tommy John Surgery. He has held off on getting it and trying various non-surgical approaches (I believe Jonathan Mayo said he had the platelet enriched plasma therapy during the broadcast on MLB.com of day 2). His bonus demands are likely to be high, and perhaps higher than Carson Sands given the tremendous upside which I think can be shown in the following tweets.

 

 

 

 


This is the overslot pick to fall in love with because the ceiling is so high.

Round 7- RHP James Norwood

Rank: 119
St. Louis, Junior
Height: 6'2", Weight: 200
Position: RHPDOB: 12/24/1993
Bats: R, Throws: R
Prev. drafted: Never
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 40 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
A year after going winless and battling an elbow strain, Norwood is poised to become the highest June Draft pick out of Saint Louis in history. He figures to go in the first three to five rounds after displaying one of the best fastballs among college starters in this year's class.

Norwood's fastball has been clocked up to 98 mph, and he usually operates at 91-95 with some sinking and tailing action. He doesn't miss as many bats as that velocity indicates he should, because he lacks a quality secondary pitch to keep hitters from focusing on his fastball. He probably would be better off working on one breaking ball rather than throwing both a curveball and a hard cutter/slider, and his changeup is still a work in progress.

Though he has a strong build, Norwood features enough effort in his delivery to raise questions about his long-term durability as a starter. He'll remain in the rotation for now, but his ability to refine his secondary offerings will determine his ultimate role.

First have to admit that this was one of many things I was wrong about yesterday.

 


Instead of taking a college senior with no leverage to continue to pile up savings for the overslots, the Cubs took a real prospect in the seventh round. As the scouting report indicated Norwood had the possibility of going in rounds 3-5, and is probably going to be slightly overslot or at best slot. The scouting report also reads very much like the plethora of college arms the Cubs took in the middle rounds of the 2013 draft.

 

 

Round 8- LHP Tommy Thorpe

Oregon (OR)
LHP L/L JR
6'0" 195lbs
DOB: 09/20/92

Here is a scouting report I found online from last year to give you an idea of the stuff of Tommy Thorpe:

Tommy Thorpe LHP Oregon

6-0 185 SOPH

Fastball-Similar to Reed’s; Thorpe’s fastball didn’t impress me as much as expected.

Sat: 87-89, hit 90 a few times, and was also down at 86 a little bit too.

Curveball-Similar to Reed, Thorpe’s curveball is plus, with most of his strikeouts coming on it.

Sat: 72-74, hit 75 and 76 a few times, and was down at 71 as well.

Changeup-Again similar to Reed, Thorpe’s changeup was his go to pitch.

Sat: 77-81

Overall Performance-Thorpe, similar to Reed didn’t impress me as much as expected. I expected both to come out guns a-blazing; however, both had uneventful fastballs. One thing that did impress me about both pitchers was their secondary pitches. Both have plus changeups and curveballs. I personally believe that Thorpe’s end result will be in the bullpen. He knows how to pitch, yet I don’t believe he can be productive in longer stints, and seemed to lack control as the game went along (pitched 6 innings, with 3 walks). I will bring back more information after I see him pitch again, but for right now my stock on him is down from where it was.

Stat line (3/9/13): IP: 6.0 H: 4 ER: 2 R: 2 BB: 3 K: 5

Tommy Thorpe is a junior, but the fact that there is no MLB.com video and that is the extent of info on MLB.com should indicate the level of prospect he is. So I was a round early in terms of Cubs picking guys that ought to sign for tens of thousands as opposed to hundreds. These are the most interesting tweets that can be found on him.

 

 

Round 9- RHP James Farris (h/t to Luke Blaize for finding this video)

Arizona (AZ)
RHP R/R SR
6'2" 220lbs DOB: 04/04/92
Farris has been a member of Arizona’s starting rotation for the last three years. As a sophomore, he started the clinching game of Wildcats’ 2012 College World Series championship. Farris doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, but knows how to use it and commands all of his pitches well. His fastball sits in the upper-80s and he can manipulate it to add or subtract velocity or movement depending on the situation. His changeup is his best pitch and he also throws a curveball, though it’s a below-average offering. Farris was selected in the 15th round last year by the Astros, but elected to return to Arizona for his senior year. He could be a solid option this year for a team looking to save money in its Draft budget.

The Cubs were clearly going with guys that were signable at this point. There is some things to like as shown below, but it is clear that this pick is about getting a guy that will sign for below slot.

 

 

Round 10- RHP Ryan Williams

East Carolina (NC)
RHP R/R SR
6'4" 220lbs DOB: 11/01/91

Wait for it, this pick was about signability. The amount of scouting information available should tell you as much at this point. One interesting detail about Ryan Williams might be that he might have a bit of a rubber arm. Here is his coach talking about it:

We’re just intrigued with Ryan Williams because if you go back, Ryan can throw every day and likes to throw every day.

So we’re kind of toying with him and I call (him) a “hybrid.” He can go both ways. He can start for us if we need him...

 

The Senior Picks
The MLB baseball draft is a complicated beast to begin with given that players are going to take multiple years after the draft to reach the highest levels and most of them will be weeded out before they even get close to the major leagues. Complicated that matter is the MLB's complex rules regarding signing bonuses. The result is that many players after round 1 get drafted in places that don't accurately reflect their talent level but rather the dollar figure needed to bring them into the fold. Jonathan Mayo wrote a bit about that last night. The whole article is worth a read but this quote here is of particular interest to the Cubs:

The Cubs, who will likely save money from their first-round pick, Kyle Schwarber at No. 4 overall, took perhaps the best senior talent-wise in Maryland's Jake Stinnett in the second round, then two more in rounds nine and 10. The reason? Carson Sands (fourth round) and Dylan Cease (sixth round) will likely require deals far greater than pick value to sign. The Cardinals took supposed tough sign Jack Flaherty at the end of the first round on Thursday, then took a senior, Irvine's Andrew Morales before Day 1 was over. Like the Cubs, they, too, nabbed two more seniors in the final two rounds of action on Friday.

Don't mistake the strategy as some kind of money-saving pick dump. Yes, there will be substantial savings, especially the deeper into the second day of the Draft things went. But this is still the top 10 rounds of the Draft. The Cubs don't take Stinnett, the Cardinals don't take Morales that early if their scouting staffs didn't think they had a chance to contribute to the organization beyond a Draft bonus discount. Even as the Draft wore on, many of the later seniors taken had been very good performers in competitive Division I conferences.

It is interesting how the Cubs have approached this balancing act. The Cubs clearly take the player they like the best at first overall, but the difference between other teams is that signability picks are littered throughout the rest of the draft as opposed to the last few rounds. It will take a few years to see if the Cubs approach (which several other teams take as well) works or if the take the best players first and then 4-6 guys that will sign for 10K at the end of the draft works out.

The Budget and Day 3
Bleacher Nation posted a great MLB draft primer here, and I am not going to break down the whole thing here in this mammoth post. The important part here is that the Cubs can spend up to 5% over their bonus pool without forfeiting a first round pick(s) (no matter what there is no protected first round pick in this case), and that if you don't sign the player drafted his slot bonus money disappears from a team's pool. Any player taken in day 3 doesn't count against the pool unless his signing bonus is over 100K and then the amount over 100K counts towards the bonus pool.

The Cubs have spent up to that 5% cap each year in the Theo Epstein regime and I fully expect them to do so. Here is my rough estimates (based on available information about where the Cubs stand in terms of bonus money):

1st Round $4,621,200:
C Kyle Schwarber (My Estimated Signing Bonus-3.8 million)
2nd Round $1,250,400:
RHP Jake Stinnett (My Estimated Signing Bonus-1 million)
3rd Round $714,900:
C Mark Zagunis (Confirmed Signing Bonus-615K)
4th Round $480,600:
LHP Carson Sands (Estimated Signing Bonus-1 million)
5th Round $359,900:
LHP Justin Steel (My Estimated Signing Bonus- 360K)
6th Round $269,500:
RHP Dylan Cease (My Estimated Signing Bonus-1 million)
7th Round $201,900:
RHP James Norwood (My Estimated Signing Bonus-250k)
8th Round $161,800:
LHP Tommy Thorpe (My Estimated Signing Bonus-100k)
9th Round $151,000:
RHP James Farris (My Estimated Signing Bonus-50k)
10th Round $141,000:
RHP Ryan Williams (My Estimated Signing Bonus-10k)
Estimated Total Spent- $8,185,000
Total Pool- $8,769,810
Difference- $584,810

That seems to indicate to me that today will be a somewhat uneventful day for the Cubs draft. The Cubs could surprise and take Jacob Bukauskas, but I think it would be an either Dylan Cease or Jacob Bukauskas decision at that point. The decision most likely not being the Cubs as they hope that slightly over a million dollars would be enough to tempt Bukauskas skip going to North Carolina in the fall.

If you're looking to me for live thoughts and analysis for day 3 of the draft, first of all that is probably one of many poor life decisions you made, but second of all I will gone most of the day performing feats of fringe average parenting. Here is to the least exciting day of the draft, and still some how the Cardinals will manage to find three to four studs.

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