Wow, this is so last minute, but that kind of stuff happens when you have one of those actual job things, and the job isn't "to blog obsessively about the Cubs." I digress, I like my job. Anyway, onward!
We blogged previously about what the Cubs can spend given the CBA restrictions in this year's draft if you are interested, but that won't become an issue until mid-July at the signing deadline. The spending pool ($8,769,810 exactly with the minimum penalties) will affect the Cubs' decision-making due to the associated overspending penalties, but for the most part agents know how much clubs are allowed to spend and they are unlikely to waste their top pick on a guy who won't sign.
The 2014 MLB Rule 4 Amateur Draft starts tonight on MLB Network (and you can usually stream the coverage off MLB.com) at 6 PM Central Time. There's a pre-draft show that starts at 5 PM but that's just so the guys can try to sound smart or something; it's anyone's guess what the three teams in front of the Cubs in the draft order will do, and it's a mystery thus far as to what the Cubs will do given that their decision is directly impacted by what the Houston Astros, Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox do. And since I haven't had the time to watch the countless hours of video or to actually watch these guys play live, I'm relying on people a lot smarter than I am (or at least with more access) to tell me things about the next hyped Cubs prospect.
The caveat of any MLB draft is that the players selected won't make an immediate impact on the major league club upon his selection because baseball is a difficult sport to master and player development takes time. Given the track record of the Cubs front office led by Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, and advised by Tim Wilken among others, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. The player development system in the new Cubs era is a marked improvement over the previous system, and we need only stare into Kris Bryant's eyes to be at least casual believers in the plan. With that being said, temper your expectations and keep in mind that there are many ways to build a club, but a top pick can make it more likely to net a potential all-star.
Based on various mock drafts, it seems like the teams with the top three picks are going to try to snag one of three pitchers: Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, and Carlos Rodon. We don't know for sure who is in their list of six or so prospects on the board at #4, but I'm confident that the Cubs probably would like a shot at one of those guys should they slip.
At MLB.com, Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis have different ideas as to who the Cubs will pick. Mayo is suggesting an underslot strategy where the Cubs grab a lesser player such as Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber to try to save money for later rounds, similar to what the Astros did when they drafted Carlos Correa a couple years back for underslot money. Callis also leans towards the underslot strategy, suggesting that the Cubs take Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto. I know next to nothing about Schwarber, but Conforto is on a lot of people's radars because he punishes baseballs and gets on base at a ridiculous clip.
At Through the Fence Baseball, Twitter buddy Dan Kirby suggests that the Cubs might take Nick Gordon, a high school shortstop from Florida. Gordon has a great hit tool and as Kirby says, he may be a superstar in the making. Picking a position player if one of the top pitchers isn't available is fine with me, as the Cubs have taken position players in the first round in each of the last three drafts and they seem to be doing alright (slumps are expected, don't freak out yet). Gordon may also come a bit cheaper and allow the Cubs to use the underslot-to-save-for-later strategy yet again.
We'll have a draft roundup when the festivities are over on Saturday. For now, we wait. Interesting how the draft is happening right as the Cubs are trying to sweep the Mets at home, eh?