Cubs Go Pitching-Heavy in the Draft, Soto Wins the Derby, MLB Has to Answer Questions, and Other Cubs Bullets
I know that holding the MLB Draft at the same time as the All-Star festivities was one of those ideas that sounded good on paper, but it turns out that, in practice, it forces you to choose to miss one thing or the other. And since I am heavily focused on the Draft, that means I barely have any sense at all of what happened yesterday with all the player interviews among the All-Stars. I have some catching up to do, like this morning with Willson Contreras’s comments on the Cubs and his future.
- Speaking of the Draft, we’ll see rounds 11 through 20 here on Day Three, starting at 1pm CT.
- Yesterday, the Cubs took seven pitchers and one position player, making it a total of nine and one for the draft so far. I wouldn’t take much more away from that than the Cubs felt like the pitchers at those spots were the best picks to create a successful draft overall (keep in mind, it seems like their senior/under-slot signings are ALWAYS pitchers), and maybe a tiny bit of wanting to take some swings on pitcher upside right now (there is more positional upside in the system at the moment).
- The Cubs will add some positional guys today – probably (in their view) underrated college bats, and it’s possible they have some pool space available to go overslot on a guy or two (remember, anything for an individual player over $125,000 today counts against the pool, and you can definitely get some really interesting prospects to sign for $200,000 or so). The Cubs probably also figure they’ll be active in the undrafted free agent market (where you can now once again spend up to $125,000 on a player without it counting against the pool (the terrible $20,000 limit is gone)). There’s also the Trade Deadline looming, where the Cubs might wind up picking up some additional young bats. Who knows. But however it goes, I don’t really have much of a reaction to the pick balance at the moment. I just don’t think it means much.
- Instead, where I see meaning in the draft so far is in how RISK-HEAVY the Cubs have been. Almost every single pick so far this year – other than the pure slot-savings picks – has been on the very extreme end of high-risk, high-reward. That’s not an accident. Clearly the Cubs felt they had a lot of quality depth in the farm system already, and were in a position to be able to go for those extreme risk types to try to land a future superstar. Some years, you can’t really afford to do that, because you look down the road and feel like you don’t have enough “likely contributors” in your farm system. So you need to take a lot of shots at high floor. The Cubs DO have a ton of “likely contributors” in the farm system right now. But they don’t have a ton of “you know, if everything breaks right, this guy could be an ace” types. This was the draft to take those swings, especially in the earlier rounds, and especially if the Cubs felt about this draft – apparently they did – that the pitching side was undervalued.
- Anyway, stay tuned for today’s picks. I’ll bet we see a lot of college bats, and a lot of lower-risk arms. It’s harder to get those higher-risk, higher-upside guys to sign on Day Three unless you have a TON of pool space leftover, and my mental math suggests the Cubs might only have a small bit of overage left. If you missed any of yesterday’s picks, see the round-up here.
- The Home Run Derby last night was fun as always, with Julio Rodriguez stealing the show early (he was just hitting monster homer after monster homer), Albert Pujols shocking everyone (including himself) by beating Kyle Schwarber in the first round, and Juan Soto ultimately taking the crown.
- It’s a Home Run Derby so whatever, but still, pretty impressive for Soto to do what he did amidst the swirl of all the rumors. He’s just good.
- I tend to think this does not ultimately go anywhere paradigm-shifting, especially now that the minor league player suit is settled (though the suit from a handful of minor league teams that lost their affiliation continues … ), but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some fascinating information coming out in the interim. Those questions from the committee are probably going to be very challenging for MLB and its lawyers to answer. And the fact that the committee dropped it in the middle of the Draft, and in the middle of MLB trying to negotiate an International Draft? That is some shot-across-the-bow stuff.
- This is just wonderful stuff:
- Another rough day in the Blackhawks’ world:
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