by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

You should read yesterday’s opening post to get an idea of where I’m coming from with all this. Also, before we continue on, check out the Chicago Cubs prospect tracker over at Prospectus, keep it in mind when you’re reading the rest of this. If’ you’re looking for Rizzo, he’s still listed with the Padres.

Cub fans seem acutely aware of both the farm system and the MLB draft this year. What we’ve been told ever since the arrival of Theo Epstein is that the Cubs will build a winner from within. A new emphasis has been placed on the draft and player development. It’s something that was set in motion with last year’s draft which impressed Theo Epstein for its approach, even if he didn’t value the players the same way the Cubs did.

I do understand the excitement about the farm hands, the Major League club has been awful and really hasn’t given much reason for excitement. Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson have been top of mind for Cub fans, ditto with Javy Baez and Josh Vitters. The problem with the Cubs farm system is that it lacks impact talent that can help the big league team. Jackson’s ceiling is “good player.” Rizzo can be an above average 1B. Baez isn’t going to stick at short, and he’s so raw no one knows what he’ll do. Vitters lost a lot of stars off his prospect status and no one knows if he’ll ever be ready. And then there’s the thin pitching depth…

It’s not good, it’s not close, and it’s not going to happen soon. Know this, let it sink in, understand there is no savior that is coming in to save the Cubs. It’s a long process TheoCo is undertaking, and it’s all about drastically changing the very infrastructure of a franchise that was slow to adapt to the new way of doing baseball. This isn’t add a few pieces here and there. The Cubs aren’t in “just add a free agent 1B mode.” We’re talking a complete and massive overhaul of a system. I think it could be fun. All the people dressed as green seats at Cubs games are telling me that most don’t think it’s very fun at all. That’s ok. That’s expected.

So, while you’re watching the draft, keep this in mind.

  • You can’t trade draft picks. Can’t stress that enough. Teams aren’t allowed to trade picks at all. Don’t ask for it.
  • This isn’t the NFL draft. In several respects. The Cubs are probably going to take a SS with their first overall pick. I would put money on it, actually. The talent selected here is a huge unknown, and it’s not a sure shot that any of the 50+ players selected will be a contributor at the Major League level in even 3 years. Think about that for a moment, 3-5 years from now you still might not see any of these cats up with the big league team.
  • Theo does a blend approach. Numbers/scouting eyes. That’s his M.O. That’s how he builds, and that’s the right way to do it in my humble opinion.
  • AAA isn’t really a proving ground anymore. AA is where it’s at. AAA is full of old Quad A players who are filling out rosters. Young kids with stuff to prove will go to Tennessee. Guys waiting for a spot to open end up at Iowa.
  • Good young prospects don’t go to Peoria, they end up at Daytona. You’ll be able to tell what the Cubs think about a guy depending on where they send him. Daytona is advanced A ball, Peoria is A- ball. The players they value early will end up at Daytona.
  • Watch the plan of attack. The draft is meh this year. Watch what they acquire though, this is the first year the CBA is in effect and it will affect who they draft and why.

The Cubs have the 6th overall pick, so let’s get straight to that. The reports are small because, well, I’m not going to project too much there. I can tell you what I like, what I don’t like, and what I think they end up being. Honestly, that’s all you need too. No “if he” bullshit. These are 5 guys I would target with their pick, in no particular order.

Kyle Zimmer – RHP University of San Fransisco

[youtube http://youtu.be/GB1KG-ZDeQo]

What I like

Easy gas. Has been clocked at 96-97, but recently sitting at 93-95. Good action on his two seamer. Decent offspeed offering. Stats show that he misses bats. Has a solid body, looks like it can carry some extra good weight. He can handle the SP load. Decent delivery…

What I don’t like

…right up until the follow through. Falls to the 1B side, compromising some control. Stats say he only issued 17 BB’s, but I can see him having control issues once he hits pro ball. Conference record, which is usually against better competition, was meh. Loss in velocity is a concern.

Synopsis

I like him, quite a bit. Scouts are a bit put off by his dip in velocity. Just as likely to go 1-1 as he is to fall even beyond the Cubs. I would take the flyer on his arm, it has good action and it pitches an above average fastball, sometimes an elite fastball. That’s big. The rest you can learn, the fastball is the framework for everything. If he’s there, that’s the guy I take.

Carlos Correa – SS Puerto Rico Baseball Academy

[youtube http://youtu.be/xxkCTTe-4m0]

No stats I could find.

What I like

He’s clearly been taught the game of baseball by professionals. Small hitch in the swing when he loads, but what he does to create leverage is outstanding. He’s an athlete, solid body, looks like it’ll fill out well. He’s really short to the baseball, creates good batspeed, flashes good power. He’s a refined baseball player, which is rare in a kid this young.

What I don’t like

I don’t think he sticks at short where his bat potential is special. He has the arm to play third. He’s not fast/quick enough to survive at short with a bigger body. Don’t know how he’ll handle some of the breaking stuff he’ll see at pro ball. I don’t like the hitch at all, and sometimes he can swing from his front leg more than his back.

Synopsis

Raw. His bat is obviously much more tantalizing at short, I don’t think he sticks there. I think he’s a 3B, and he’ll have to hit better than I think to justify him being an everyday player. Worth the risk, but it’s a big one.

Mike Zunino – C Florida

[youtube http://youtu.be/W67frV4rCyE]

What I like

Mean swing. Great balance, simple load, quick to the ball. Great bat speed. Generates a lot of power. Stout body, well-built, looks the part. From what I’ve read about him, he’s improved as a catcher by leaps and bounds. Frames pitches well, good arm. He looks like he can be a solid catcher for a long time.

What I don’t like

That’s a lot of strikeouts, too many for that type of swing. It’s not a hole, so it’s likely pitch recognition/bad command of the strike zone. Obvious risk factor for a catcher.

Synopsis. 

I would consider taking him above Zimmer, I would probably take him over Correa too. His bat looks like it can play in the Majors, his strike zone command needs improving. Defense is key, and it looks like his is good enough.

Kevin Gausman – SP LSU

[youtube http://youtu.be/NCelzHSiPjE]

What I like

Great fastball. Great frame, good quick delivery. Quick, athletic, misses bats. Fastball has good movement on it, slider shows potential. Changeup looks like the fastball.

What I don’t like

He’s really raw, has issues with command, likely needs to scrap a middling curve and pick up a new pitch so he can develop the slider. High risk guy because he may never figure it out. Bad control.

Synopsis

He has #1 potential, which makes him so tantalizing. He’s also really far away from MLB at this point. He flashes a good slider and his fastball-change combo will be good enough to get him through High-A ball. I don’t know if the slider will develop enough to survive AA though. If I were the GM, I’d pay to find out though.

Byron Buxton – OF Appling County HS

[youtube http://youtu.be/_jEOvrNoBlE]

Dark horse candidate. I don’t think he falls to the Cubs, but at least there’s an outside chance of it, unlike Appel.

What I like

All of it. He’s a 5-tool guy. Great athlete, good repeatable swing, good arm, solid fielder, can probably play CF/SS/2B, bat projects well to all those positions. Stays on balance with his swing and he has really easy speed. I’d be surprised and ecstatic if he fell to the Cubs.

What I don’t like

Obviously raw, power potential might be overstated. Fundamentally lacking in the field.

Synopsis

It would take a cascade of events for the Cubs to get him, but if he ends up there, be it because scouts are turned off by…something I dunno, or Scott Boras shenanigans, the Cubs should take him.

Overall

This is an important draft. My twitter handle is up at the top, I’ll be doing some live tweeting during the event. I’d love to talk with you guys and see what you think about the picks. See you guys June 4.

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