MLB Draft Day 2 (Rounds 2-10)

MLB Draft 2021

Yesterday the Cubs chose Kansas State left-handed starter Jordan Wicks with the 21st overall pick. I already covered the selection a bit in this morning’s recap, but I also put together a Twitter thread with some additional thoughts after I posted this morning:

He finished his Kansas State career as their all-time strikeout leader, punching out 230 batters in 203 innings, while compiling a 15-6 record and 3.24 ERA in 34 career starts spread across three seasons.

Wicks was ranked as the 13th overall player according to Baseball America and the 16th according to MLB Pipeline. I’m just now starting to go over some of the reactions from those publications and others from around the net. Everyone seems about as positive as I am about the Cubs choice and agree that it is strong matchup of an advanced college arm with still untapped upside to a system in dire need of future middle of the rotation starters.

Cubs Vice President of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz was effusive in his praise of Wicks, noting not only his impressive repertoire, but his maturity, work ethic and approach:

“We were blown away,” Kantrovitz said. “How thoughtful he was about his repertoire, about his intent, about his work ethic, about his routine and just sort of his game plan when he goes out there. … To talk to an amateur pitcher that could articulate sort of his intent the way that he could was really impressive.”

Cubs Vice President of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz regarding his meeting with 1st Round choice Jordan Wicks at last month’s MLB Scouting Combine

For more reactions and analysis on Wicks, I see Bryan Smith has done a deep dive on him over at Bleacher Nation. I haven’t read through all of it yet, but Bryan always does thorough work and the two of us agree on prospects more often than not. Greg Huss has more over at Out Of The Vines, and Greg Zumach of Cubs Insider looks like he’s got some of the raw data I hadn’t seen on the pitches and mechanics for Wicks.

Day 2

The second day of the draft (rounds 2-10) kicks off at noon CST on MLB.com.

I would expect the signing bonus for Wicks to come in right around slot ($3,132,300). He’s a bit older for his draft class, but he was also rated and expected to go a bit higher than the 21st pick. The Cubs do not have a ton of wiggle room because their bonus pool ($6,779,400) is the 7th smallest among all the clubs and the slot for the 21st pick accounts for nearly half of their total.

If the Cubs plan to go over slot on prep player on Day 2, as they in all recent drafts, the savings will likely need to come from smaller chunks out from their 6th-10th round selections. Given their success grabbing hard throwing relievers as free agents after last year’s 5 round draft concluded, I wonder if they can snag a couple of relievers who could still develop into Major Leaguers in those rounds for under slot.

The Cubs remaining selections, and the slot value for each pick is below:

56) Cubs: $1,276,400
93) Cubs: $627,900
123) Cubs: $464,500
154) Cubs: $343,400
184) Cubs: $263,700
214) Cubs: $206,500
244) Cubs: $168,500
274) Cubs: $152,300
304) Cubs: $143,900

I will attempt to update this post throughout the day as the Cubs make their selections.

2nd Round (56) James Triantos, James Madison (VA)

3rd Round (93) LHP Drew Gray IMG Academy (FL)

A 6’3″ prep lefty who is still filling out his frame, Gray throws a high spin rate fastball (90-94) up in the zone with effect. Pairs it with a good curve. Also has a slider that apparently flashes average. Still needs to clean up his mechanics and learn to repeat his delivery more consistently. If he can the command necessary to stick as a starter should come around.

4th Round (123) OF Christian Franklin, Arkansas

An athletic centerfielder with good range featuring an above average arm and speed (although some reports had the speed degrading this year). Franklin also produces impressive bat speed and exit velos. But he got off to a rough start at the plate this spring but improved as a the season moved along. Even when he had contact issues early, he was still hitting for power and drawing walks. Coming into the year Franklin was considered a sleeper for the 1st round with a potential 20-20 big league future. Encountered issues chasing breaking balls out of the zone when down in the count according to reports. Looks like he pulls away with his lower half too early at times, but has shown a willingness to use all fields. Ranked as the 57th overall player by Baseball America.

5th Round (154) Liam Spence, Tennessee

An Australian whose older brother pitched in the Majors. Liam is a speedy shortstop with a contact oriented approach which he combines with a great eye. His .472 OBP was 5th in Division I ball. He is an overage draftee, already 23 years old. His defense at short is consider adequate. Spence is most certainly going to be an under slot signing.

6th Round (184) LHP Riley Martin, Quincy

Another expected under slot signing, Martin is a 5th year senior who racked up 152 K in 78.2 IP in 2021. Likely a reliever as a pro, his fastball is 88-92 which he pairs with a plus curve.

7th Round (214) OF Parker Chavers, Coastal Carolina

Cubs chose another athletic outfielder by tapping Parker Chavers out of Coastal Carolina. Long an intriguing player in the eyes of scouts, Chavers is one of the fastest players from the collegiate ranks, which he combines with an above average arm to make an impressive center fielder. He’s got plenty of raw power from the left side of the plate despite being listed at just 5’11” 185 pounds. He’s never had much luck tapping into that power in game action though, but did cut his K rate down to 13% this year.

He is another overager, 23, and given he never really had the expected breakout in college (in part due to an inability to hit LHP), he will likely be an under slot signing. He could be an under slot signing with upside though. Never rule out a great athlete.

8th Round (24) C Casey Opitz, Arkansas

Considered one of the premier defensive catchers in all of college baseball, Casey Opitz features a plus-plus arm and pop times from behind the plate. He’s thrown out 43% of the attempted base stealers against him while at Arkansas.

Unfortunately, Opitz is not much of a hitter. He managed just 5 home runs in over 500 career plate appearances. He does draw some walks, but as a .253 career hitter with no power even with metal bats, it is doubtful advanced pitchers will ever fear to groove a fastball to him when the fall behind.

9th Round (274) LHP Chase Watkins, Oregon State

Bouncing between three different programs in three different collegiate seasons, lefty Chase Watkins who finished his career out of the Oregon State bullpen, but is considered a lefty from the college ranks with some potential to convert into a starting role as a pro (he started 14 games in college). He’s got the size and projectable frame at 6’4″ to hopefully withstand the rigors. According to reports he features good command of a low-90s fastball, a hammer curve, along with a cutter and change.

10th Round (304) OF Peter Matt, Duke

A three year player at Penn before transferring to Duke as a graduate (his 4th season was wiped out by the pandemic), Peter Matt is a powerful 6’2″ 220 pounder who began hitting for average in his final two Ivy League campaigns and then discovered some in game pop at Duke.

Yet another 23 year old. This would be a very odd draft collection in a normal season, but due to so many players missing time or having no season in 2020, the Cubs were clearly willing to gamble on a few as long as they offered good athleticism.

Filed under: MLB Draft

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  • Thanks for the analysis Michael!
    Any thoughts on Stovall falling to 93? He seems like someone who would prayerfully be great to God-willing fall to us in the 3rd round............is he possibly a risk not to sign?

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Gotta assume he wants too much to sign. Looks like he is headed to Arkansas. Will Taylor the other projected 1st rounder who went undrafted on day 2. Looks headed to Clemson as a football and baseball player.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Too bad, he seems headed for an area out of our reach.......are you able to trade draft picks in baseball, like they do in football or basketball?

  • Excellent, Michael. I look forward to your updates.

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    In reply to wthomson:

    Sort of liked the first pick, would have loved Hoglund or Madden.

  • Good stuff Michael ! Keep up the good work !

  • And the wheel goes round and round, round and round.......
    https://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2017/06/cubs-select-brendon-little-alex-lange-first-round-2017-mlb-draft.php

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    I get the Wicks pick but not the Triantos one. He seems like a fairly good hitter but not a set position and not a strong arm, certainly not elite in any phase of the game. I haven't tried to find out more about Gray but do appreciate all the work you do Michael.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Yes Jonathan, Triantos sounds like his defense could use some work. But I thought I saw somewhere that he hit around .700 in HS. Unless I read that wrong, that’s amazing at a high state classification.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    It looks like Triantos and Gray were overslot picks. They are probably saving money for some hard to sign prospects that they will pick up in the next few rounds. If he is still available, I would love to see the Cubs pick up Niko Kavadas from ND. He fills an organizational position that they need to upgrade and is a big time masher. It would be good to see a guy wearing number 12 and hitting homerun from the left side of the plate.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Underslot?

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Traintos has a strong arm (hit mid-90s as a pitcher). Plenty for 3B. Played SS in HS but doesn't have the athleticism for that. He'll move to 3B as a pro and should be just fine there. He just won't be an Arenado over there.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    When was that picture taken of Trainos , little league ? Confirmation ?

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Great review on the draft Micheal.

    It looks like to me that the Cubs are focused on 23' with this 1st round pick and that their top rookies: amaya, davis, morel, carroway and marquez.

    So I envision 22' with a lot of short term free agents (shortstop, firstbase centerfield, relievers and a starter) and guys like Marquez, Thompson and Steele developing in chicago.

    I guess we will know more in the next few weeks.

  • I like the picks. Reading the scouting reports, the Cubbies have done their homework.
    I hope the Cubs take a flyer on a potential lead-off type if one is available .

  • Does Spence strike you as a leadoff type 2B Michael?

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    He certainly filled that role, but as a SS, with the Vols. We'll have to see. He should certainly make contact and has a good eye, but with all guys like that (cough*Chesny*cough*Young*) that'll have to prove they can do more than hit singles otherwise advanced pitchers just groove fastballs without fear when they get behind and the OBP dries up.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I hear that, looking for one of them to God-willing turn into a Pedroia type rather than a LeMahieu?

  • Not much info on sixth round pick Riley Martin. He comes from a pretty small university in Quincy Illinois. I'm a little surprised he was picked so early. His stats look real good. Any hitters in that conference.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    There are 2 Uber prospects from that conference. Very fast lead-off types who both make a ton of contact—ronvet69 and clarkaddison. Rumor is Fernando Kelli reapplied for amateur status and played there last season.

  • The big fish, Jordan Wicks has some scouts saying he should move up the ladder quickly ! Hope their right !
    Good breakdown on the later picks Michael.
    Any trade rumors yet ?

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    Michael, thanks again for all the recaps and what you'll be adding today and the days to come. Do you see any of these breaking into the top 10 prospects the Cubs have? There are some interesting players, but as you said, there are a number who are 23 already and they might spend some time in the minors so when will they come up? Thanks.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Wicks is certainly in the top ten, if for no other reason than he is healthy and pitching where as Marquez and Franklin are not.

    Davis
    Hernandez
    Marquez
    Amaya
    Howard

    in some order are the top 5.

    I'd put Wicks solidly at #6.

    After that Jensen, Franklin, maybe Herz along with Morel, Strumpf, Preciado, Caissie, Made would make up the next group and again, I wouldn't argue much with any ordering.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    ok--I stand corrected. I look at the Yu trade and I believe all of the teenagers made our top twenty and a few in our top 10. So with this offseason we've increased the talent in the top 10 by 30%. That's what we're supposed to do, or rather good FO do.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Regarding

    I have yet to see much of Preciado and Caissie but what I have plus what I've heard indicates they are solidly in the top 15, and both may be top 10. I know Fangraphs rated Preciado 3rd behind Davis and Hernandez, but that is a bit of an outlier. AZ Phil seems to like Caissie even more than Preciado. If someone wanted to put one of both into the top tier I wouldn't have a strenuous argument against it at this point. I'll wait until I can see them play everyday in MB.

    Mena is considered very raw, but he is a very good athlete. Could be in the top 20. Again, I haven't seen much to have my own opinion.

    I have seen Santana, and while I do like his bat control, he has been chasing pitches out of the zone all year, leading to Ks and weak contact. On defense he is a good 2B, but I haven't seen him play SS enough to get a read. His struggles at MB were one of the bigger disappointments of the 1st half.

    He was the older (though not old) of the quartet and the only one with actual professional game action. I haven't written him off by any means, but he was already the lesser athlete among the guys acquired and if he doesn't make serious improvements with plate discipline he will not make it. I can see him hitting for average down the road, but not until he swings at better pitches.

    His 1st half reminded me a bit of Chris Morel's at Eugene a few years ago, where he essentially swung at every pitch. Morel went back to Mesa, played better, then broke out in SB the following season. I had a little more faith in Morel as a prospect because he was a better, more versatile defender with the potential for above average power as well. I kept him in my top 20 even through his demotion. I'm not as confident with Santana.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Fangraphs was even more of an outlier because they had Preciado rated #2 with Hernandez #3.

  • Michael, thank you for your time and dedication in pulling this info together.

  • The fun part will be to watch the race for shortstop to chicago between howard, preciado & hernandez. I think one of them should show up sometime in 23'

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I think that is a year early, TBH. But those 3 could be your 3B, SS, and 2B to close out the decade.

    I am really concerned with Howard’s bat. Let‘a hope he can right the ship in the 2nd half and take off.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I give Howard a huge break considering he's a cold weather prep guy who had his 2020 wiped out, so he really hasn't seen much advanced pitching the last two years, and then is jumping straight to full season ball. He's already showing some positive signs of progress and the Cubs have been pretty effusive regarding his work ethic and ability to quickly make adjustments. I just want him to get as many PAs this years as possible. I'll start to worry if the bat doesn't show up next year.

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