We’re back to reverse standings watch mode again…
The Cubs sudden nosedive has them just a 1/2 game out of the 5th spot for the 2015 MLB Draft behind the Red Sox, who are desperately trying to tank the rest of the season. With fate lending the Cubs a hand in this derby, it should be neck and neck down the stretch if current trends continue. Keep in mind that the Astros will get the 2nd pick because of the Brady Aiken fiasco and will move the Cubs down into that 6th or 7th spot.
With that, I gave you a few names last week that I liked but I don’t get to see a whole lot of players. Fortunately, Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com does and he wrote up his early list for Fangraphs here.
Here are his top 10
- Brendan Rodgers, SS, (HS)
- Brady Aiken, LHP, (JC)
- Mike Matuella, RHP, Duke
- Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt
- Phil Bickford, RHP, (JC)
- Kolby Allard, LHP (HS)
- Darby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
- Daz Cameron, OF, (HS)
- Justin Hooper, LHP, (HS)
- Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville
Pitching heavy at the top
If you want the Cubs to get pitching, it certainly seems like it’s going to be there — even advanced pitching as there are 4 highly rated pitchers at the JC level or higher, including Brady Aiken, whom the Cubs were known to like a lot in last year’s draft. We know the Cubs have said that Kyle Schwarber was 2nd on their board and we can safely assume that Aiken was #1.
Aiken, of course, now comes with uncertainty because of an unusually small UCL, though nobody has a handle on what that means for him long term. It certainly hasn’t hurt him so far and I presume that if he has a successful, healthy season at the JC level, it will quell some of those questions.
Matuella has been the big college arm but he is raw compared to most college pitchers and he has struggled to maintain a large workload despite his big frame. McDaniel compares him to Tyler Glasnow. I wonder if he might have to be brought along more slowly, thus erasing some of the benefits of getting a college pitcher to begin with, but if he develops strength and stamina, he is a potential #1 starter.
Phil Bickford is a hard throwing pitcher who seems to be getting better quickly. My early reports had some believing his high effort style and one pitch repertoire (FB) would land him in the bullpen. He has since improved and developed a slider, which makes him someone well worth watching given he is throwing as high as 97 mph.
Walker Buehler is a good all-around pitcher who throws hard and has good secondaries with command, but has a slight build — can he maintain the type of work of workload required of a top end starter. He may be the Aaron Nola of this draft in that sense.
The Cubs are currently in the 6th slot and the player McDaniel has there is another CA prep lefty, Kolby Allard. He is small and slight of build but also the youngest in the class, which bodes for greater growth potential. Some have suggested he could be this year’s Aiken.
The first thing you’ll note is that OF Daz Cameron and LHP Justin Hooper have both fallen out of the top 5. Whether that presents opportunity or not depends on how they do this spring — but if they perform well and answer questions they may once again leap out of the Cubs range anyway.
Alex Bregman may be the best hitter in this draft but a slight sophomore slump and increasing doubts about his ability to remain at SS have him at #12. We know the Cubs like college hitters and few are more of a sure thing than Bregman.
Draft Strategy Guess
I think the Cubs will once again be very particular about the pitchers they will consider selecting. If the Cubs have a chance to nab Aiken I think they will do so. I also feel that is true of Matuella, who embodies a lot of what the Cubs seem to look for with pitchers. But after that it gets dicey. Bickford and Allard will require more evaluation as the season goes on to fully determine if they are worth a top 6 or 7 pick, but if the Cubs aren’t comfortable with any of the available arms, we may just see them go the safer route again with someone like Bregman or a true SS with hit potential in Darby Swanson. Another alternative would be a big high school bat like Betts, especially if they think he can stay at catcher.
If the draft were held today, I would guess that Rodgers goes first to the Rangers and then the Astros to try to make up the lost development time from last year’s pick with a college/JC arm and choose between Matuella, Bickford, and Buehler. You can do the math from there but it looks like the Cubs will once again have to either get good fortune or get creative again.
Filed under: 2015 MLB Draft