What to look for with the Cubs first draft pick

In years past the highlights of the season would’ve been the talent injection the Cubs would’ve pulled off via trade and the draft. Things are a little different this year as the draft is likely a distant thought in the minds of most fans as the Cubs rend their way through major league baseball but the draft is still going to be an interesting one to watch for the Cubs as they will try to parlay their weak draft position into a useable major league piece.

Finding talent with the ability to contribute at the major league level is a tall task where the Cubs will be picking this year. Their free agent spending spree, a wise move considering their roster, has left them making their first pick in the third round, 104 overall.

The Cubs all time best third round pick is Rick Reuschel but the contributions from first to second drop off considerably:

Year

Rnd

DT

OvPck

RdPck

Name

Pos

WAR 

G

AB

HR

BA

OPS

G

W

L

ERA

WHIP

SV

Type

Drafted Out of

1970

3

67

19

Rick Reuschel (minors) RHP

70.0

579

1115

4

.168

.419

557

214

191

3.37

1.27

5

4Yr Western Illinois University (Macomb, IL)
1971

3

64

16

Dennis Lamp (minors) RHP

15.4

639

201

0

.164

.368

639

96

96

3.93

1.38

35

HS St. John Bosco HS (Bellflower, CA)
1997

3

94

10

Scott Downs (minors) LHP

11.0

619

45

0

.067

.192

619

38

40

3.56

1.34

27

4Yr University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY)
1979

3

64

12

Chuck Crim (minors) RHP

6.5

449

2

0

.000

.000

449

47

43

3.83

1.35

45

HS Thousand Oaks HS (Thousand Oaks, CA)
2001

3

78

2

Ryan Theriot (minors) SS

6.4

899

3246

17

.281

.691

4Yr Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA)

Ryan Theriot is the Cubs best third rounder since 2000 and he clocks in at a paltry 6.4 bWAR. It’s not a problem unique to the Cubs. Historically the best 3rd rounder by bWAR is Bert Blyleven (Tony Gwynn, Gary Carter and John Olerud are other notable 3rd round picks), a notable hall of famer to be sure but the variance in production widens considerably here and the hit rate of these picks is considerably lower than even the second round.

Going by recent history Kyle Seager, Craig Kimbrel and Johnathan Lucroy are the loudest names picked in the third (Matt Harvey was also a third rounder but he didn’t sign with the team and was picked out of college in the first round later on). There’s a mix of interesting profiles and mid-lvel contributors at the major league level. Addison Reed is having a resurgent career after bouncing around a few teams. He was picked in the 3rd in 2010.  Zach Britton has had a remarkable career as a closer after experiencing a tumultuous one as a starter. He was picked in the third round in 2006. 2008 third rounders Jordy Mercer and Danny Espinosa have provided solid, albeit unspectacular major league contributions. Of recent vintage 2015 third rounder Taylor Clarke and 2014 third rounder Cy Sneed look like they could provide solid depth as backend options for major league teams.

The third round doesn’t allow for a lot of wiggle room when it comes to making a pick. The realistic upside is usually limited to average regular and the risk is usually high to extreme with the profiles. Solid, average regulars can save a ton of money if you can find them. It’s extremely unlikely the Cubs will find their next star with their first pick but given their organizational strength they don’t have to.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Comments

Leave a comment
  • fb_avatar

    I would like to see the Cubs draft primarily power arms from the first pick on. We have a lot of position players in the minors now so let's get heavy with some power arms.

  • fb_avatar

    I thought the Cubs Got an interesting player in the third last year in Bryan Hudson. 6'8" 220 at 17 years old last year so he has some projection to him. He already throws in the low 90's so I'd expect that to increase a few ticks as he develops into a man. Has good plane with that length coming over the top. He already has a god secondary in his nose to toes curve ball. I'm very excited to he how he develops. Right after they picked DJ Wilson who i also like. The Cubs can really get some value from high schoolers like Hudson with some projection as they are stacked in the minors still to this day and their major leaguers are still babies in baseball years. Shit their 2014 3rd rounder was a good one in Zagunis. Now that draft looks like it can bare some fruit. With this regime's eye for talent and their excellent developmental system they can still get rich in this draft.

  • fb_avatar

    Favorite Bert Blyleven story:
    I was at a Twins game with a friend of mine and there was a kid there, probably about 9-10 showing his friend a ball that had some autographs on it. He was reading them as best he could and finally got to "Bert Blylever" (his pronunciation). Blyleven was doing Twins radio broadcasts at the time. My friend and I, both lovers of baseball lore and history smiled and asked if he knew who "Bert Blylever" was/is. He said, "No" but that a group of people were asking him for his autograph so he thought he was probably a ball player and decided to get an autograph and ask questions later.

    My friend said to him, "Do you know who has the most K's in MLB history (it was 2000)." The kid said, "No." My friend said, "Nolan Ryan. Do you know who has the 2nd most K's in MLB history?" The kid said, "No" as if to say, "Who would know that?" My friend said, "Steve Carlton. Do you know who has the 3rd most K's in baseball history?" "No." "Bert Blylever." and we smiled and walked away. The kids jaw dropped.

  • I think we should have a contest. Predict the Cubs 1st pick. Open a thread the day before. Let readers make their pick 1st come 1st serve on each player. I'll let you guys figure out the prize.

  • fb_avatar

    Jameson Fisher at 104

  • In reply to Joseph Winner:

    Doubt they take a 1B but the Cubs did draft him before.

  • In reply to Joseph Winner:

    McNulty approves.

  • Throughout this article, I found nothing on what to look forward to the Cubs 3rd round pick. The author mentioned other notable 3 rounders of years past, but nothing here to see. Quit making Cubs Den articles look like Creative Writing 201. Get to the meat of the subject. Mention a couple of names, do some more research, and present your ideas to us. The other guy that wrote in Cubs Den wrote about some tree growing in Brooklyn the other day. No mention of the Cubs 4 pitchers allowing only one hit, Geesh. Grade C-

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    I disagree overall with what you said. This is a great blog with great writers.

    To your point it is not fun to read an article that has the phrase, "The realistic upside is usually limited to average regular." This article certainly won't get you excited about the draft.

    And one more thought. The Cubs don't even know who will be there in the 3rd round. So how can you expect the writer to mention "a couple names?"

  • In reply to TD40:

    Rubio is a really good prospect writer. You can see his work on 2080 baseball with John. Sure, this is just a quick take on the history of 3rd round picks and not an in-depth look at Cubs draft strategy and prospective draft choices, but so what?

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    You have every right to be unhappy with this or any other blog, but a more appropriate response might be to look somewhere else for reading that meets your needs.

  • In reply to Cphil:

    +1

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    interesting way to thank someone for donating their time to the site and, prospectively, your entertainment. guess we missed the news that the world owed you something here.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    If there was anything to say about the 104th pick following 103 other decisions, he would have nailed it. Over the past three years his draft preview has been fantastic. He would have given you in depth analysis of eight different players with a strong recommendation. The point is, most third round picks are not difference makers. This years draft is a non-story for fans. It is a year to trust the organization. They have earned it. Don't forget, 103 variables before it is their pick. Then add in who is going to stay in school or go on to college to move up in following drafts for a chance at more money later.

    C-? You are disappointed? I'm elated. The success of the MLB team has pushed the need to acquire impact players to the background. We have impact players. Plus the 2016 draft and money got us Heyward and Zobrist.

    'A Tree Grows in Broklyn' always reminds me of Bugs Bunny. That cartoon character was a fine ball player. But I think the carrots were a PED.

  • fb_avatar

    Not only are they not usually difference makers but when confronted with such a mass of players to say, "OK, which 99 will be taken before we get to our pick?" it becomes an exercise in futility. And we can't just go to various websites "Top-100" because, again, we don't know which will be taken and which will still be available. In the recent past we were picking high in the first round. That limited the number of players that might not be available and fueled interesting speculation. I, for one, don't plan on following the draft as closely this year and will simply wait until afterward and read people's insights into WHO we pick rather than who we MIGHT pick.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    LRC, I have learned that life is very difficult for people with limited abilities to place things in proper perspective. Heads up.

  • The Cubs scouting staff is nothing but top notch. I bet they find a couple of future studs in this draft.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    I like your optimism. At their position, the odds drop drastically. The picks will be lottery picks. If we get a future bullpen arm that is cost controlled for a couple of seasons or an end of the bench guy, consider it a win. Either gives you organizational flexibility. It frees up ash to keep players you want.

    While Sandburg and others were low picks, you don't build an organizational philosophy on those picks. Just because my uncle Lou's barber's next door neighbor hit a jackpot in Vegas and quit his job doesn't mean I'm getting on a plane to Vegas with the college fund.

  • In all likelihood the Cubs draft a first or second round worthy HS player in the late third and pay him over slot money to skip out on college. They could even do this twice and then target cheap college seniors (with whom they've had some success)in rounds 5-10. In recent history the Cubs have gone overslot quite a bit--rounds 4-6 in 2014 and 3-4 last year.

  • In reply to ericccs:

    Or a high upside injury project that slips down.

  • In reply to ericccs:

    Should have read your post first ericcs,.... asked almost the same question (below).

  • I'm predicting that the Cubs FO finds a loophole and will draft Clayton Kershaw with their first pick.

  • What I look forward to this year as regards the Cubs draft is (unlike recent years) a solid post-draft assessment of what the Cubs DID get with the draft choices they DID have.

    Any chance that some risky (but promising) high-upside HS arm is drafted early and offered some over-slot cash to make the leap into pro-ball and skip college?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    We have seen some intriguing 3rd round picks for Theo since he got here,.... a couple of these guys still could have some value as MLB players.

    Bryan Hudson - LHP
    Mark Zagunis - OF (although drafted as C)
    Jacob Hannemann - OF

  • They should take some players who fall due to injuries.

Leave a comment