Is there really a chance Aiken or Rodon slips to the Cubs? Here are the admittedly unlikely scenarios...

It’s one week before the MLB Draft, do you know who your Cubs are taking?

No? Well, join the rest of us.

Last year it was down to 3 players — and really just two because by this time last year, the Cubs seemed to favor Mark Appel between the two pitchers and then Cubs Den contributor Kevin Gallo had sold us on Kris Bryant.  Turns out Kevin had this one nailed down.  Bryant probably should have gone #1 overall.

The mystery this year is in no small part because  the league’s professional #1 draft pickers, the Astros, haven’t made their decision yet and may not until draft time.  Their pick, in turn, directly affects the Marlins, and so on…

The reason is they are looking to sign someone early and well below slot, as they did 2 years ago with Carlos Correa.  Jon Heyman of CBS Sports floats out a rumor today that the Astros are considering Nick Gordon on an underslot deal.

Maybe. I’m not sure he isn’t getting used here to see if they can force Brady Aiken to take an underslot deal.  Carlos Rodon is another possibility but it is difficult to imagine Scott Boras going far enough under slot to make the Astros happy.

According to Keith Law, the Astros may have more leverage with Aiken in that he believes the Marlins will be pressured by ownership to take Carlos Rodon (a bit of an older rumor that the Marlins front office denied a while back) and also believes that the Sox are leaning heavily toward Tyler Kolek — even over Rodon and Aiken if they drop.  The reasoning here is that if the Astros don’t take Aiken, he will slide to #4 (Yay!) and will lose a significant amount of money if he does, so he will buckle and take the Astros deal (Boo!).  It seems to me that Gordon may just be a pawn in this game but that is my speculation only.

I don’t have to tell you the implications if Keith Law and/or Jon Heyman are right, but it makes me giddy and I will tell you anyway:  It means the Cubs still have a chance to get Aiken or Rodon.

For diehard optimists out there, here is how it could play out…

  1. If Heyman is right and the Astros pick Gordon.  And if Law is right, the Marlins will take Rodon and the Sox will take Tyler Kolek.  Aiken to the Cubs if they don’t pull a hamstring rushing to the podium.
  2. In the same scenario but with the Marlins taking Jackson, the Cubs could actually have their choice of Rodon and Aiken and, at the very least, they are guaranteed one of them will fall to them.
  3. If the Astros take Rodon, it seems the Marlins are locked in on Jackson in this scenario.  Kolek to the Sox, Aiken to the Cubs.
  4. If the Astros take Aiken, the Marlins take Jackson, the Sox take Kolek, then Rodon falls to the Cubs.

Would I bet a bottle of good scotch on any of these scenarios over the pitchers going 1-2-3?  Not a chance.  But the possibility, no matter how remote, does exist.

Personally I think the #4 scenario is the most likely after the top 3 pitchers going 1-2-3, so I see Rodon as the greater possibility than Aiken. And while I am an optimist by nature, I am also realistic at my core.  Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.

In this case, the worst really isn’t so bad.  Chris Crawford quotes an AL East crosschecker who makes a good point in his latest piece,

“If Aiken, Rodon and [Tyler] Kolek are off the board, I don’t think you can take a pitcher,” an AL East crosschecker said. “Two months ago you had [Jeff] Hoffman and [Tyler] Beede as options, but I think those are off the table. If they’re fortunate enough to have [Aiken, Rodon or Kolek] fall to them, they’re golden, but if not, they’re going to have to get creative. They certainly have the right guys in the front office to do that, though.” (emphasis mine)

In Theo (and Jed, Jason, Jaron, and Tim), we trust.

But wouldn’t it be nice to get a gift from the baseball gods for a second straight year?


Filed under: 2014 MLB Draft


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  • Dammit John...stop getting my hopes up!

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    LOL! Sorry about that ;) I did try to temper expectations but it's hard not to hope. Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst!

  • Very interesting. Hopefully this week goes by quick! I think Houston still takes Aiken with Rodon and Kolek going 2 and 3. Leaving the Cubs with their choice of Gordon or Jackson. Probably Gordon. Not sure why a lot of people seem opposed to Nick Gordon

  • In reply to Javier Bryant:

    Just my $.02 but I think a lot of it is because a few weeks ago, the Cubs were guaranteed one of the four elite SPs in the draft and Gordon was more in the 8-12 range on a lot of rankings. Now, Hoffman is injured and people are starting to sour on Kolek for some reason, and Gordon seems like a consolation prize. He'd still be #4 on my imaginary draft board, but I think some people see a guy who shouldn't be at #4 but is who the Cubs are now left with.

  • John--Clearly the Cubs' favorites are Aiken and Rondon. Who would you personally prefer the Cubs pick if they are gone? Gordon? Jackson? Kolek? Or one of the underslot options?

  • John - I'm not sure if you've seen Rodon at work in-person yet, but down here in NC have seen him quite a bit. In addition to the gaudy stats, he just has "it." When he's out there working he just exudes this aura that he is completely in command, you can see his team responding to it as well. If the stars align and he drops to the Cubs, I will be one happy Cubbie. You'd probably have to go back to 2003 to think about the last time we had a Cub TOR SP who had both the swagger and the stuff to back it up at that level, although Shark is sure trying to audition for that role this season.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Would you say that he has the will to win?

  • In reply to JB88:

    TWTW is Harrelson drivel but I can tell you without hesitation that mental makeup is very important to the Cubs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry, that was meant to be heavily sarcastic. Now I feel bad that you provided a legitimate response to a post intended to be a joke.

  • In reply to JB88:

    Sorry! My bad, didn't mean to ruin the joke. I actually knew you were joking with TWTW, but I just wanted to make sure that nobody took it as downplaying the value of makeup.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He gone!

    John, is there anything that Harrelson says that isn't drivel?

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Excellent point ;)

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    In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    I love it when he says, "goodbye" at the end of a broadcast.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    The Cubs do value mental makeup and that will certainly factor in their decision. I always put it this way: Makeup doesn't make the player,ultimately it is talent, but it does make it more likely that a player will get the most of that talent. If the Cubs feel Rodon has the kind of makeup profile they like then that will definitely be a factor.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ha! Thanks John. Yes, I re-read and certainly wasn't trying to go Joe Morgan on you guys, just noting that seeing Rodon work in person is an amazing experience thus far. Alas, I don't think we'll get to see him play his trade in Wrigley though, but your article keeps hope alive!

  • John what is your "worst case scenario" for who the Cubs end up with and how "worst" is it?

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    I think there is a drop off after the 3 pitchers and I know some who think there is a drop off after Aiken. I like Gordon but I wouldn't mind to see the Cubs go underslot if their guy isn't there. See if they can do it with Nola or Conforto, arguably the two safest in the draft, or Pentecost if they think he'll develop average power and stay at catcher.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    A few weeks ago I would have said no to Nola (N.O.L.A, Nola) but if you can save a little with him, it is not a bad consolation prize. I would be sad to have such a high pick and come away with someone people do not see as a TOR type guy. Seems like I have seen a lot of high praise on him recently so I am coming around.

    If you can't cut the deal you want with him, then I would be very much behind Pentecost or Conforto because you would then come away with what are considered clearly the best catcher in the class or best college hitter. I would take my chances with that and not be disappointed.

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    In reply to DoubleM:

    I'm with you. It's hard to have strong opinions when everything is based on what you've read, but it seems like a safe pick and someone who could be in the rotation by 2016. And if he has a good chance to be a solid No. 3, that's nothing to sneeze at in my opinion.

    Conforto would be my next choice.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree underslot, but I'd prefer a higher risk underslot pick who could become a star, like Newcomb, Finnegan or Toussaint.

  • In reply to springs:

    I hear you but I don't think that will happen. If teams go under slot, they want to make sure they don't come up snake eyes because the idea is to go high risk later. If you can get a #3 starter, a LH hitting OFer, or an everyday catcher, then I think you can be happy and if you hit on your next pick, that's huge.

  • man, I want Aiken or Rondon sooooo bad. but pretty sure we are not getting a pitcher

  • Please Stros. Be as fool;ish as you were last year when you handed us Kris Bryant on a silver platter. Ill gladly take either Aiken or Rodon.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    "Psst, Luhnow, I hear the Cubs are REALLY high on Nick Gordon, look at how good Bryant's worked out for them! You should take him #1 overall!"

  • This is third hand but according to a friend who was at a Rick Hahn meet & greet a couple of nights ago, he confirmed he's taking Rodon if he's there.

  • I am strongly thinking that a bat will be taken in the top 3. I think it goes Aiken, Jackson, Rodon, and then the Cubs pick. I'd be happy because then the Cubs can take Tyler Kolek and we have a happy ending. But I am worried that the Cubs don't want Kolek. So I'm worried the Cubs would take Gordon or those underslot hitters here. And the Twins I think will take Nola, Mariners would take a hitter (Gordon or college bat), and Kolek would fall all the way to Philadelphia. I can see this happening. My dream list order:
    1) Rodon
    2) Aiken
    3) Kolek
    4) Jackson
    5) Nola
    6) Gordon

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    Based on what I've read, it's hard to imagine three teams passing on Aiken. But it sounds like if the Astros do, he'll slide to No. 4. That is, if the Sox's love of Kolek is true.

    Personally, I'd almost prefer Rodon over Aiken, because there seems to be less risk with a college arm. And I'd be fine with Nola, even if he appears to be slightly undersized.

    The high school bats make me nervous as well.

  • Sox fans always want to win more games than the Cubs, too
    bad it didn't happen this time. Hitters are less of a gamble

  • Hoping 1 of the 3 pitchers fall to Cubs. Sidepoint, in looking at these pitching prospects: Anyone know how old these guys are when they start learning/throwing secondary pitches. Curveballs, etc. My son went to the NTIS Team USA experience in Cary this year for 11U and almost every pitcher there was spinning curves up there. My son was FB/CH only. I was surprised. Team USA guys said in their symposium that curves at 11U are perfectly fine, as long as mechanics of the pitch are sound. It's the workload that gets kids hurt. Thoughts? I wonder if they'll find a connection to secondaries at young ages and TJ surgeries.

  • In reply to Jweav14:

    I somehow ended up with the White Sox on for a bit last night (I know, I know) and Stone was talking about a 17 year old who was throwing curves. He said he told the kid to stop throwing it because his mechanics were wrong. The kid didn't listen and threw one in the first game of the year and was done.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    I always use Nolan Ryan or Jim Kaat as examples. Ryan didnt throw a curve until he was with the Angels. Kaat never threw a breaking ball before he was 25. Tom Seaver didnt throw a slider until 1969, his 3rd big league season. Orel Hershiser didnt throw one until 1988, Stone should know something, throwing too many curves in 1980 ended his career in 1981.

  • Is this year a record with so many pitchers, even in the minors, having
    Tommy John surgery by Late May.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Dr James Andrews, the famous Tommy John surgeon that all the best players go to to get the surgery, just wrote a report on the subject...


    During the past few years there has been an “epidemic” rise in the number of professional pitchers requiring ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (“Tommy John surgery”). This is like déjà vu, as a similar sharp rise was seen in adolescent pitchers near the turn of the century (late 90's - early 00's). These two rises are indeed connected; that is, today’s pro pitcher in his 20’s was an adolescent pitcher a dozen years ago. Thus in many cases, the injury leading to Tommy John surgery in today’s young pro pitchers actually began while they were adolescent amateurs. Observations by orthopedic surgeons support this link, as the torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in a pro pitcher usually looks like it has worn out over time.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Andrews has been a long time proponent of the idea that overuse of adolescent pitchers is correlated with future TJ surgery. The scary part there is that any chances made today will take years to filter through to the majors.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Did you see these nuggets in the link Mike, I thought it was very interesting...

    “The biggest risk factor for elbow injuries in young pitchers is the curveball."

    Not true. Too much competitive pitching and pitching while fatigued are the biggest risk factors. While bio-mechanical research and epidemiological research have not shown a strong connection between curveball and elbow injuries, a youth pitcher may not have enough physical maturity, neuromuscular control, and proper coaching instruction to throw a curveball with good mechanics. The first steps should be to learn, in order: 1) basic throwing, 2) fastball pitching, 3) change-up pitching.

    Be wary of pitching in winter league baseball. The UCL and body need time to recover and build strength, so the concept of annual periodization should include adequate rest from full-effort pitching.

    Pitchers with high ball velocity are at increased risk of injury. The higher the ball velocity, the more important to follow the guidelines above.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Good point-read what Nolan Ryan said he ALWAYS did after EVERY season. His first month off was nothing but rest-didnt touch a baseball for 4-6 weeks after the season. I remember a famous track coach at UCLA saying the same thing-he always advocated his athletes must rest for a period of time before resuming workouts.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    BA put out a study on TJS today too...disproportionate percentage of college pitchers are getting TJS compared to high school and international pitchers. Basically, since 2007 4-year college pitchers make up 30.4% of all pitchers, but 43.5% of TJS patients. For high school pitchers, the percentages are about even and for international signees, the TJS percentage is actually almost 6% lower.

  • There are just too many scenarios out there for one of the top 3 pitchers not to fall. The Astros have already shown they will go under slot and got burned last year by going with the perceived BPA. The Marlins clearly are high on Jackson. The White Sox hate Scott Boris. I'll bet a bottle of John's scotch that that someone falls to #4.

  • I would do a back flip if Aiken fell to the Cubs (and then have someone rush me to the hospital)!

    My order of #want with the top 3 is Aiken - Kolek - Rodon - in that order. If Rodon hadn't developed a "dead arm" the last two years in a row, the I would have him 1st but as it is, I worry of future arm troubles. I hope I'm wrong though as when he is on he is a stud. As far as Jackson or Gordon,either is fine with me as I think they both have the tools to be worthy of the #4 pick. Jackson is a future middle-of-the-order hitter with very good power. Gordon might be the best all around positional player in the draft.

  • John, what I really want to know, what I need to know, what I absolutely must know is................................

    Has Fergie Jenkins been working out in order to avoid a hammie? Have you seen him?

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Haha! I have no idea.

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    Remember last year when we were disappointed Appel didn't fall to us? I have faith this will be okay, too.

  • off the topic - Svuem named Royals hitting coach.. lulz

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Sveum was a pretty well-regarded hitting coach in Milwaukee, it's not a bad move. Also makes you think they'll go a different route for manager if Yost gets canned.

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    In reply to CubfanInUT:

    The Royals have had 6 hitting coaches since 2012. Their hitters probably walk up to the plate with little yellow birds whirling around their head.

  • I don't know why, but I have a bad feeling about kolek. Don't get me wrong, he is very talented and I would be happy to have him on the cubs, but I have a feeling he will be a bust. I have this weird feeling he won't develop enough command of his secondary pitched to be a TOR. Also, his arm might fall off considering he is throwing over 100mph F'S I'm high school. I would be happier with Nola over him. Nolan is the safer bet to reach his ceiling. However, I would only take Nola at #4 if he signs for an underslot deal.

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    When Nolan Ryan first came up with the Mets a lot of people were very uneasy, even skeptical about him, especially batters. He was incredibly wild! Turned out OK after awhile............

    And I favor finesse pitchers over the flame throwers.

  • "The reasoning here is that if the Astros don't take Aiken, he will slide to #4 and will lose a significant amount of money if he does, so he will buckle and take the Astros deal."

    How much potentially are we talking about here? I'd think that Aiken's agent is feeling out the top 5 or so clubs anyway, to see how amenable a team such as the Cubs would be to ponying up a little.

    Any chance Aiken and his agent would rather get drafted by a "Big Market" team or a team with great player development--or *cough* a team that fits both--and whatever was lost in slipping to #4 could be seen as easily being made up in the nearer future?

    I guess whatever happens happens.

  • John, you don't hear this often enough. Thanks for this blog. It gives the faithful die-hards something to bite on during a dismal year, and I have seen at least 2 dozen whole bushel baskets of those since I was a six year old in '58. I do think things are starting to turn for the big club, but maybe we have to endure a really, really bad year before it shows in the W-L column. Thanks again!

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    In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Here, here! thanks John, Mike, Mauricio, et. al

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Thank you Matt -- appreciate what your readership and what all of you bring. Readers are part of what make this blog what it is and I hear it all the time from people outside our community.

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Thanks TEC! Appreciate that.

  • I would love to Aiken or Rodon fall to the Cubs. I just don't see it happening, maybe Nola, Pentecoste or Conforto. I didn' t know Conforto could play 3B-

  • Just remember - Sam Bowie.
    Most important 2 words in Bulls history.
    Of course, we have to go for the best player available. But let's not get so wound up that we really think we know who that will be. To quote Socrates (or somebody) Nobody Knows Anything.

  • In reply to tboy:

    Haha! I thought that was Plato.

    Bowie is an example of what can happen when you pick for need -- and it's an even worse idea for baseball.

    I actually have more information this year than any of the last 4, but I feel like I know less. But,,,I have a pretty good idea of what will happen based on info I've gathered but I will save that for closer to the draft.

  • I'm curious of the Cubs could get two legitimate first round picks next year and the year after plus two up and coming minor league players for Shark. That would be a heavy price for another club to pay but don't know if it's even possible.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    You can't trade draft picks.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Except for competitive balance picks, picks 35-41 (1st round) and 69-74 (2nd round) this year.

  • I don't see why a team with the #1 pick would need to deke out other teams about who they intend to draft. The Appel situation may have convinced them to diversify their risk and take a position player.

    I have speculation fatigue. I'm ready for the FO to do it's thing and then hope for the best. We probably won't know if they did the right thing until at least a couple of years from now anyway and there's certain to be players drafted after us who turn out better.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    They are not trying to deke out other teams. They are trying to "deke" Aiken (possibly). Aiken may be saying he wants the slot of $8MM. Astros say we will draft you #1 and give you $7MM. If Aiken says no, and falls to the Cubs at #4, the slot there might be $5MM (can't remember the #). So Aiken loses $2MM by turning down the Astros offer. IF he signs for the $7MM Astros want, the Astros save a $1MM they can use towards someone else.

    These numbers aren't accurate, but you get the gist of things.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Exactamundo! (well, except for the slot numbers, but the central point is right on.)

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Jeff Luhnow is going to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when he no longer has the #1 pick.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    You're right. I knew that but forgot when I posted my comment.

  • I cant see this FO taking Conforto with his defensive liabilities , just cant see it, if top 3 arms gone it has to be Jackson, Gordon or Nola . cant see any other scenario unless Newcomb gains helium last week here before draft.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    From what I know, I can say that 3 of those players are under varying degrees of consideration.

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    This was recommended by YouTube after the Dumb and Dumber vid. I think it's more appropriate for Cubs fans:

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    The James Woods little kid candy trap was awesome.

  • Funny tweet by Corey Black:

    @KrisBryant_23 shouldn't even have to walk to the plate anymore just trot around the bases straight out of the dugout #KrisBryantFacts

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    Ha! Love that. Honestly, how can he not be the #1 prospect in all of baseball?

  • Assuming Aiken still goes number one...does Miami take Rodon or Jackson? I think it's either Aiken, Jackson, Rodon or Aiken, Rodon, Kolek.

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    In reply to Javier Bryant:

    Aiken, Rodon, Nola is not impossible.

  • Sorry if turns out to be a double post, but...

    Just a heads up for non MiLB TV subscribers: Iowa Cubs vs the hated Cards affiliate will be on CBS Sports Network tonight at 7 pm.

  • What would be fun is if we did say, four mock drafts with John, Mike, possibly Felzz, and then an interested and involved follower/commenteer or two taking up the third/fourth spot and then make an article out of it with a sentence or so reasoning behind each pick.

  • I think the spate of arm injuries to high-profile major leaguers, minor league prospects and draft prospects will cause at least one of the first three teams to blink and not take a pitcher. But my excitement of Rodon, Aiken or Kolek falling to the Cubs is tempered by my dread of Tommy John surgery. Much as we need pitching to balance our prospect chart, I'd almost prefer the Cubs end up with Gordon.

  • In reply to Taft:

    If there were some more highly thought of college up the middle players I would agree. Position players is the way to go top 5 or so if you can. It's definitely less risk with a valuable pick. So far that strategy has worked out pretty good.

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    I know it's been pretty much ruled out, but a part of me hopes if the pitchers go 1-2-3, that the FO will just say to hell with it and take Hoffman, TJS and all.

    I'm sure they won't, as taking a guy that won't start playing until (optimistically) the 2015 draft would be way too rough on a bad team that needs help. I don't feel bad at all that we're in last place right now. Maybe next year this can be avoided.

    I really hope Alex Jackson & Tyler Kolek are more willing than Aiken to go a tad bit under slot to go #1 and/or #2

  • High school players are dead to me. I know Beedes stock has dropped but he's still my pick. If the FO really doesn't believe then I'd go with NOLA.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    Agree,,,,,Tyler Beede.

  • Sounds as if the Sox are locking in on Kolek. If the Astros take Gordon at 1 then we will get Aiken or Rodon. If all three go before we pick I say we grab Gordon. You can never have too many athletic up the middle prospects. If that happens it doesn't mean they will all hit the bigs with the Cubs. There can be some creative deals made to address other needs. Don't go under slot and hope guys you want in the following rounds are there. Take the BPA...

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