The Rundown: A Look at This Week’s Draft, Crow-Armstrong Takes Big Rankings Leap, Orioles Playing Electric Baseball, Dodger Stadium Workers May Strike
“Tonight we are young. So let’s set the world on fire. We can burn brighter than the sun.” – Fun featuring Janelle Monáe, We Are Young
We are now just five days away from the MLB Draft and I’m still jonesin’ for LHP Jackson Ferris, TINSTAAPP be damned. I’ll willingly admit that he’s not going to the Cubs at No. 7 overall and IMG Academy’s top southpaw is starting to drop on many draft boards in general. I’ve seen Ferris as low as No. 39 (Padres) and as high as No. 19. (Athletics). If he drops low enough, signability could be an issue. Ferris is committed to Ole Miss and it’s unlikely he’d skip college for second-round money.
There is a caveat, however. If the Cubs selected a lower-ranked player such as shortstop Zach Neto, that could change the disbursement of their $10,092,700 bonus pool. The No. 7 pick is worth just a tad over $5.7 million, but Neto, who is ranked No. 17, might sign for less than that. The Cubs and Padres are two of a dozen teams that have eight-figure allotments this year, and because San Diego has the 15th selection in the first round and an extra pick in the competitive balance portion of the draft, they could pass on Ferris, dropping him to the second round, where the Cubs have the No. 47 selection.
Keith Law projects the Cubs will indeed take Neto ($) with their first selection in his latest mock draft for The Athletic, though he doesn’t see the shortstop as an under-slot pick.
“Neto is a definite shortstop who should be a plus defender in the majors and has a plus arm, but he’s really made himself some money this spring with his performance, including just a mere 7.6 percent strikeout rate for the [Campbell University] Camels,” Law wrote. “…his future is on the dirt, and with his propensity for putting the bat on the ball and enough power to project as a 30-doubles guy, he should go in the top half of the first round.”
The offensive profile sounds a lot like Ian Happ when he was drafted out of Cincinnati in 2015, though Neto is not a switch-hitter. Law isn’t the only one who likes Neto for the Cubs, as Prospects Live made the same prediction.
In fact, the Cubs have been linked to a number of middle infielders for months. Termarr Johnson and Brooks Lee have been mentioned in various mocks by other writers. It’s almost as if the Cubs are screaming that they’re going to avoid the free-agent shortstop market this winter. With the way Nico Hoerner has been playing, the Cubs can and should focus on filling other needs, especially with a system that includes Ed Howard, Cristian Hernandez, Kevin Made, and James Triantos. Drafting Neto, Johnson, or Lee would be a pretty solid indicator that Jed Hoyer will avoid overpaying for one of Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, or Dansby Swanson this winter.
If Neto is the guy, could Ferris be an option in the second round? Neto agreeing to a bonus of $4 million or so, would potentially leave the Cubs with about $3.368 million for their next selection. That’s pretty close to the suggested slot value for the No. 20 overall pick. It’s admittedly a stretch, but the entire draft is a crapshoot after the first 15-20 picks.
It’s also interesting to note that VP of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz will be running Chicago’s draft. I have no idea where GM Carter Hawkins fits into all of this. Other than providing a recommendation in May to promote Caleb Kilian, Hawkins has been relatively MIA since Hoyer hired him.
Cubs News & Notes
- Happ is now Chicago’s top trade chip.
- The switch-hitting outfielder ranks 40th in all of baseball in OPS, right behind Turner and George Springer, and ahead of Correa, Matt Olson, and rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez.
- Willson Contreras has shown tremendous growth on and off the field, and his starting All-Star nod is the cherry atop that sundae.
- CBS Sports ranks Contreras and Happ as the fifth and sixth best trade candidates currently said to be available. David Robertson (23) and Drew Smyly (27) also made the Top 30 list.
- In case you’re wondering why David Ross continues to pitch Rowan Wick on an almost daily basis, it’s because Chicago’s bullpen has been taxed by overuse.
- MLB.com has a pretty comprehensive breakdown of this year’s draft, including a lot of Cubs coverage.
- According to Kiley McDaniel of ESPN, the Cubs are a team that leans college and safe up top ($) before getting bolder as it goes down the board.
- Pete Crow-Armstrong continues to rapidly climb top prospect rankings.
- Crow-Armstrong jetted all the way up to No. 34 ($) on the latest Baseball America Top 100 rankings, surpassing Brennen Davis (47), Hernandez (78), and Kilian (82).
- The Cubs released their All-Star gear yesterday and of course, the items are a bit pricey.
- LHP Jordan Wicks (2021); Howard (2020); RHP Ryan Jensen (2019); Hoerner (2018); and LHP Brendon Little (2017) were the Cubs’ five most recent first-round selections.
Odds & Sods
The Cubs and Orioles will play a two-game set at Wrigley Field starting today, and you can make a case that Baltimore is the best team in baseball right now.
The Orioles since June 11:
130 runs scored
101 runs allowed
Staff ERA 3.45
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 12, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Decision to decisions are made and not bought.” – MGMT, Kids
Here are the Cubs’ top 10 selections with bonus pool values for each.
- Pick No. 7: $5,708,000
- Pick No. 47: $1,660,400
- Pick No. 86: $735,200
- Pick No. 113: $538,400
- Pick No. 143: $402,100
- Pick No. 173: $303,700
- Pick No. 203: $237,300
- Pick No. 233: $188,900
- Pick No. 263: $164,500
- Pick No. 293: $154,200
Assuming Druw Jones and Jackson Holliday are the consensus top two picks and won’t fall to the Cubs, here are scouting reports on 10 draft-eligible players Kantrovitz could be targeting.
- Cam Collier
- Elijah Green
- Jace Jung
- Dylan Lesko
- Jacob Berry
- Kevin Parada
- Gavin Cross
How About That!
Albert Pujols hit a double last night and passed Stan Musial for third place on the all-time XBH list, behind Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.
Pujols will play in this year’s All-Star Game as a Commissioner’s Pick. He has already announced he will retire at the season’s end. He will also participate in the Home Run Derby.
Dodger Stadium concession workers are threatening to go on strike just ahead of this year’s ASG.
The Braves have traded Drew Waters, Andrew Hoffmann, and CJ Alexander for a competitive balance draft pick, No. 35 overall. The pick has a slot value of $2,202,100. Hoffmann is a great get for Kansas City.
Thanks to their recent hot streak, the Orioles could possibly be buyers at this year’s deadline.
Former scout Billy Blitzer, who once worked for the Cubs, thinks the Angels have to listen to any and all offers for two-way star Shohei Ohtani. He’s not the only one, either.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Max Scherzer – In his second start since returning from the IL, the ageless righty shut down one of baseball’s best offenses with seven innings of three-hit ball. Scherzer struck out nine Atlanta batters as the Mets upended the Braves 4-1.
- Bobby Witt Jr. – The Royals rookie was 4-for-5 with a double and three RBI.
- Brad Keller (Royals) | Mitch Keller (Pirates) – The Kellers, though not related, exited their starts with two wins, and 13 strikeouts in 14 combined innings.
Nolan Ryan had a .526 winning percentage, never won a Cy Young Award, and lost nearly 300 games. I just cannot fathom that. He also pitched 222 complete games in his 27-year career.
In 1991 Nolan Ryan allowed opponents an OPS of .548 (173 innings)
He was 44 pic.twitter.com/S0rXvCnlav
— OldTimeHardball (@OleTimeHardball) July 12, 2022
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- Some argue that the government should foot the bill for college. What say you?
- For years we all thought that the one band that Robert Smith of the Cure detested most was the Smiths. As it turns out, we were all wrong.
- The Chicago Blackhawks are taking the scorched-earth rebuild to an entirely new level. Will they even win 10 games next season?
- Rumors abound that All-Star right winger Patrick Kane wants no part of a rebuild and will ask to be traded later this week.
- Remember on Seinfeld when Kramer wanted to start a make-your-own-pizza franchise? How would you feel about an entirely robotic pizza service that operates as a vending machine?
- Prime Day is here! What are you buying? I’m not shopping on Amazon this year but what I did buy may shock you. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the discounted price because I was unaware of Black Friday in July, though Macy’s is working it out with me.
They Said It
- “I think it’s fair to say that there are seven players that we have a strong focus on right now. Not coincidentally, that’s consistent with what our pick number is. But with the way the draft works, we can’t have blinders on. We need to make sure we’re considering other options beyond that top seven as well. The goal is to have an excellent first-round pick. But the larger goal is to have a great draft and I think there’s a number of ways to get there.” – Kantrovitz
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
I love me some Janelle.