Chicago Cubs: MOD #1

Chicago Cubs Mock Organizational Diary
Scouting Director: Dan L.

Early Round Picks
#9 (Rd. 1), #68 (Rd. 2), #98 (Rd. 3)

Recent History
Recent trends in drafting for the Cubs include collecting collegiate talent in the first few rounds, then gambling on younger talent as the draft moves deeper.  This recently adopted philosophy took shape once enough highly touted HS players taken in early rounds, particularly OFs (Cunningham, Harvey...even Patterson), failed to pan out in the 1990s.  Much of the Cubs' recent financial efforts have been used to solidify the MLB team, with questionable results.  In 2010, with the new ownership group still getting their feet wet and projected budgets unsettled, the Cubs drafted a signable talent with the 16th pick in the 1st rd – RHP Hayden Simpson, out of Southern Arkansas University.  While Simpson showed lots of promise at the collegiate level, it was at a D-II school, and he didn't dominate the scene.  Simpson would've been a good grab in the 3rd or 4th round, with management likely being lauded for having a keen eye for underrated talent, but taking him in the first round was more of a slap in the face than a coy selection to many Cubs fans.

Organizational Needs
When considering the level of talent to draft in the early rounds, most teams try to nab the Best Player Available (BPA) but most always with an eye to what holes in the organization need to be filled.  The Cubs only show a semblance of depth in their starting pitching, and most of that is near the big-league level (AA or higher).  The trade to get Matt Garza gave up some plus-talent in the middle infield (Lee) and an intriguing arm (Archer), as well as organizational filler (Chirinos, Fuld, Guyer).  While this certainly didn’t decimate the system, it did indicate where the fractures are located.  Here are the top organizational players remaining for the Cubs:

Starting Pitching:  Trey McNutt, Chris Carpenter, Jay Jackson, Hayden Simpson, Robinson Lopez, Austin Reed, Rafael Dolis, Jeff Antigua, Austin Kirk, Ben Wells, Andrew Cashner (already in MLB, but still rookie eligible)
Infield:  Josh Vitters, Micah Gibbs, D. J. LeMahieu, Ryan Flaherty
Outfield:  Brett Jackson, Reggie Golden, Matthew Szczur

The obvious need here is offensive talent, regardless of position.

First Round Strategy
The Cubs need help in several areas, but I'd prefer to go after a corner-infield power bat with above-average decent plate discipline, in the mold of an Eric Hosmer (yes, we'd ALL love our teams to have that type of talent), in the first round.  The Cubs have plenty of free swingers or small-ballers, but no stout hitters that can take a pitch with any regularity.  Using the BPA philosophy, though, at pick #9 the BPA might be a college arm.  While scouting the BPA, I'm likely to pursue a more -known quantity, without a lot of projection, someone who can move through the lower minors quickly.  This comes down to a college SP, or maybe a college/JuCo hitter for the first-round pick.

A popular choice for the Cubs here is Bubba Starling, if the Royals don’t take him at #5.  Personally, I’m not sure that I don’t take him – too many possible red flags for me (two-sport athlete, commitment to Nebraska, might only sign with KC due to local connection), as well as being gun-shy with previous ‘toolsy’ HS OFs (see above).  If George Springer is available at #9, he would be a tempting choice.  Otherwise, the likely people to choose from remain:

Sonny Gray (SP, Vanderbilt), Danny Hultzen (SP, Virginia), Taylor Jungmann (SP, Texas)

Trying to reach for a hitter with this pick (assuming that Rendon, Springer & Starling are gone) would mean an over-draft on hitters such as C.J. Cron or Andrew Susac.  Had his performance this year come through as well as originally projected, Harold Martinez would have been a nice pick here.  I won’t completely negate the possibility of taking a HS player here, but I’ll just say that it’s unlikely that I do so.

Post-First Round Strategy
The next pick for the Cubs is at pick #68, due to an extraordinarily large supplemental round this year, so even with the deeper draft, the Cubs need to think outside the box a bit to ensure that the sum of their first two rounds can stand up to the 60 picks in between them.  Trying to scout out nearly 70 picks from the start of the draft isn’t the easiest task, but here are a few names that are under consideration:

Dante Bichette Jr., 3B, HS (FL); Kyle Gaedele, OF, Valparaiso; James McCann, C, Arkansas; Charlie Tilson, OF, HS (IL) – local kid, suburban Chicago; Jason Esposito, 3B, Vanderbilt (assumes he drops _several_ spots below projection)

In later rounds, we’ll look at both arms and bats pretty rigorously, especially those that may be able to contribute quickly: Taylor Dugas, Nick or Noe Ramirez, H, Martinez.  I’m also very partial to ‘legacy’ talent – those with previous bloodlines in the big leagues.  Someone like Cameron Seitzer might be very appealing with a 4th round pick.

Pre-Draft Assessment
In 2011, with the Ricketts' ownership group fully in place, and a scouting philosophy trending more towards statistical analysis, the Cubs have the ability to select several talented players to rebuild their crumbling farm system.  That rebuilding process will likely begin as it has in recent years - with college-level talent – with the willingness to take risks on HS/JuCo talent as the draft progresses.

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