What happens after the first pick is called- The Cubs either have an electric arm with dominating power and great breaking movement or they have an electric arm with great power and dominating breaking movement or they have a power hitting slugger that makes Dan Vogelbach look like a little leaguer. With any of the options the consensus remains among draftniks, barring any incredible off the wall move, the Cubs are poised to take a can’t miss impact talent with their first pick. The only caveat being the recently announced failed drug test of Gray, which I believe is a non-issue for the Cubs organization if they believe he is the top talent available and he is on the board when they pick.
What I am more interested in discussing is the Cubs draft strategy and who they may target with that second pick at number 41. Last year we saw the Cubs take the best player available approach with their first pick, selecting Albert Almora and then go on a streak of selecting high upside arms. Do the Cubs take a similar style approach this year? I would believe based on the state of the organization that they very well will.
Here is why: the Cubs top 25, when looking at various different rankings, has one thing in common. The pitchers that are found in the Top 25 are injury ridden (Vizcaino, McNutt) high ceiling guys (Blackburn, Pierce), bullpen only type arms (Vizcaino, McNutt, Cabrera,) or long ways away guys (Underwood, Panigua, Maples). The fielding positions seem to be on a continued pace of success, with the exception of Brett Jackson who is sliding. The Cubs will likely be looking to add impact talent again to the pitching staff.
The Cubs have a great starting staff this year but have two expiring contracts in Matt Garza and Scott Feldman. Should the Cubs not be able to sign Jeff Samardzjia to an extension then the talent blows out the door quickly. Let us not even get in to the catastrophe and revolving door of the bullpen that could really use some sure fire young guns, the like of the type that the Atlanta Braves consistently produce.
Who may be there with that number 41 pick? Well it is going to be a hard pick to guess because with the competitive balance picks come some risk taking and it is hard to predict what teams will do late in the draft, some will reach way up to sign a guy to a cheap contract under slot. What I can tell you are here is five names that you should look for the Cubs to take a hard look at if available at number 41.
Hunter Green- LHP Warren East (Bowling Green, KY)
Green has a legitimate chance of being available at 41 because of the bevy of LH high school arms that is available near the top of the draft. Looking at several different resources, Green is consistently ranked in the top LHP arms available. He stands 6-4, 190 pounds, and imposes in large frame on competition striking out 110 in 51.2 IP. He has touched 95 MPH and is expected to reach back for a little more as his frame continues to fill out a bit more. He has a good feel for his curveball and changeup with good command. He played for a week team and although he is projected by Baseball America as the 31st best prospect, he may see a tumble
Aaron Blair– RHP Marshall
He is in the same wagon as Gray in that he tested positive for the stimulant adderall in predraft testing. This may make him slip a bit because he doesn’t carry the same can’t miss pedigree that Gray has. The one the thing about Blair is that he is another big body pitcher. He has the frame of a big body work horse and will be a safe pick for the Cubs as a relatively high floor and the potential to be an excelent 3-4 starter. He throws a low 90’s fastball and high 70’s curve, but his best pitch is his swing and miss mid-80’s changeup that he confidently throws at both lefties and righties. Consider this the safe pick if he is available and the Cubs are looking for a guy that can go through the system rather quickly. Overall he gets rave review for his makeup and the positive test shouldn’t blemish him too much.
Bobby Wahl- RHP Mississippi
Standing 6-3 at 200 lbs, Wahl continues to get good reviews for his arm side running fastball that some have reported tops out at 97 MPH, but generally sits around 93 MPH. He also offers a slider with plus potential and a wipeout changeup. The young righty offers repeatable mechanics and again is high floor type pitcher who would be a positive addition to a struggling are of the minor league system.
Crazy Wild Card-
Cord Sandberg– CF/OF Mantee High School- Florida
Signability concerns may drop him all the way to the Cubs third pick at number 75. The two sport athlete is committed to play QB at Mississippi State. He is a physical specimen at 6-3, 215 with great outfield instincts. Some are concerned that he may move off to a corner position but his bat will play fine there. The knock on Sandberg is that he is incredibly raw, thing Bubba Starling, and just like Starling he has an incredibly high floor. The only way I see him dropping this far is if he commands a high price to sign. Maybe you see the Cubs save some $$$$ at the second pick with the hope he makes a slide.
These may not be the picks but these are guys I think you should have an idea about. They will definitely go somewhere close around where the Cubs pick in the 2nd round, either a few picks before or right after. These are educated guesses based off the reading I have been doing and looking at the draft strategy from last year that I believe the Cubs will follow again this year. If you have any other suggestions of players that you think would make for a good selection with the Cubs second pick throw a name out and some info. I’d love to hear what others are thinking for this spot. This will be the second most important pick they make afterall…
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