MLB Draft: Nobody Knows Nothin'
The 2009 MLB draft is going to be a three day event this year starting tonight with round 1 moving into prime time on the MLB Network. That seems pretty dumb. They're going to put a press conference of guys announcing names against actual baseball games. I know I'll be watching the Cubs vs. Astros games instead. In their quest to emulate the NBA and NFL drafts, MLB forgot to notice that the other two sports do their drafts in the offseason when people have no football or basketball to watch. Granted, it would be hard to do it in the offseason, but they should at least put the first round on a Monday or Thursday and jerry-rig the schedule so there's very few games that night or make them day games leading up to the draft (I've copyrighted that idea Selig, don't try and steal it).
The Cubs have the 31st pick in the first round thanks to a few players being unsigned last year by other teams and thus getting two draft picks. The Cubs don't draft again until the second round and pick #79. This is Tim Wilken's fourth attempt at trying to pump up the Cubs system and although the only major league return so far has been Jeff Samardzija, Josh Vitters is quickly working his way to the top of the minor league prospect charts and Josh Donaldson was one of the key pieces in the Rich Harden trade last year. Wilken avoided the topic of who the Cubs might draft in a recent interview at Scout.com but did say he almost always picks the best player regardless of positional need, but if there is a hole in the system it's left-handed pitching. He does prefer shortstops and center fielders in general, feeling they have the athletic ability to move around the diamond, although he does feel the system is pretty stocked at shortstop and catcher right now in terms of depth.
Who will the Cubs pick with their first pick? I've listed below a few players that have been mentioned in mock drafts and whispers. AJ Pollock's the name you'll see the most but Jim Callis at Baseball America in his morning mock draft doesn't believe he'll last to the Cubs.
(Click on the name to view their scouting report on MILB.com)
Brett Jackson - Center fielder and leadoff hitter for University of California although doubts he could stay at either...321/407/564 line in the Pac-10 with 61 K's to 29 BB's in 218 AB's...consistent contact remains a question mark. 60 speed, 60 power and 60 arm ratings on the 20-80 scouting scale shows his athletic ability.
Eric Arnett - 6-5" right hander from Indiana can touch 96 with a good slider although along with his straight change is still of a bit of a work in progress...has all of one good season under his belt. Most feel he won't last long enough for the Cubs to nab him anyway.
A.J. Pollock - We know the Cubs worked Pollock out thanks to Arizona Phil and he's the name that has shown up the most on mock drafts if for no other reason than he's from Notre Dame...great speed....great approach...learning his way through center field with gap power at best.
Mike Minor - Lefty from Vanderbilt that won't be confused with David Price but has a fastball, slider, change and curve in order of quality...probably not a superstar in the making but folks feel he could be in the majors quickly with a solid but unspectacular career.
Tim Wheeler - Center fielder from Sacramento State is a good all-around player that hits from Lou's favorite side
Jiovanni Mier- Shortstop out of high school in California will get drafted for his glove and then hope he can spray enough singles to make the majors. 70 arm rating according to BP, although the link to his name disagrees... both agree that he has excellent footwork and range. He's verbally committed to USC as well....
Garrett Gould - Right hander out of high school in Kansas has one of the best curveballs in the draft with a fastball that can hit 94 and a change-up that he hasn't had to use much....issues with his delivery and mechanics though.
Drew Storen - Right hander out of Stanford is one of top relievers in the draft with a good fastball and curve combo although control has been a issue...could take the Andrew Cashner route and move to the rotation and work on his change and go back to the pen if that doesn't work out.
On BP's Top 50 prospects, here is how the above ranked: Arnett -21, Wheeler - 25, Minor - 27, Gould - 29, Mier - 30, Pollock - 32, Jackson - 36, Storen -44.
Mock Draft Heaven Below.
Baseball Prospectus (Tim Wheeler)
Minor League Ball (AJ Pollock, RHP Tanner Bushue, LHP Tyler Kehrer)
MVN (Mike Minor)
ESPN (Brett Jackson)
Sporting News (AJ Pollock)
Andy Seiler (AJ Pollock, RHP Blake Smith, RHP Kendal Volz)
Project Prospect (Drew Storen)
I'd like to pretend that I know or have some informed opinion about who the Cubs should pick, but I don't...especially at #31. And chances there are very few people that really do except the guys actually scouting these players...and that's sketchy at best. The fact is trying to guess what a player might be able to do on a baseball diamond in 3-5 years is really hard work and although some teams do it a little better than others, and we have some ideas on the best strategy...what happens today can't properly be evaluated until about 2014. Yes, the Cubs have seemed to struggle historically drafting and developing players, but the only constant in that is the Cubs. The scouts (for the most part), scouting director, GM's, players have all changed numerous times and unless the Cubs are really cursed (and if you really believe that please do us all a favor and indeed jump off the ledge), the past has little bearing on the future.
(takes step off soapbox)
Well, Happy Drafting Day!