Draft Day is almost here, and the mock drafts are coming in fast and furious. I have three more for you to consider on the eve of the draft, but let me ruin the suspense early. They all project that the Cubs will take high school pitcher Archie Bradley.
And I still don’t buy it.
So let’s run through the latest mock drafts from Baseball America, MLB.com, and Fansided’s own Seedlings to Stars and see who the Cubs could go with instead of Bradley.
First of all, most of my expectations stem from the five draft trends I identified a few days ago. High on the list, and the reason I do not think the Cubs will pick Archie Bradley, is that the Cubs have not taken a high school pitcher in the first round under Tim Wilken. High school pitchers are the riskiest prospects to draft, and while the Cubs have no problems picking them up later on, they tend to avoid them when investing first round money. In a draft this deep, there is plenty of other talent just as interesting they could choose. I would be surprised if they opted for Bradley or any high school pitcher in this year’s first round.
However, with this many sources all linking the Cubs to Archie Bradley, I’m starting to wonder if an informal deal has been struck that has not been announced, and that the Cubs pick is already determined. That has been known to happen in the baseball draft. The only other reason I can see for everyone putting Bradley on the Cubs is because the Cubs can afford him. It will take a money truck the size of Texas to pry Archie Bradley away from playing quarterback at Oklahoma, and the Cubs have the money to spend have shown themselves to be willing to spend it. If he does slip past the Cubs, he could fall for awhile, all the way down to Angels at #17 or the Red Sox at #19. He is good enough to go Top 5, but he just doesn’t fit the Cubs draft profile. If anything, the Cubs have been slightly risk-adverse in the first round under Wilken, and dropping a team record signing bonus on a high school pitcher when there are fantastic college arms on the board is not the move of a risk-adverse team.
This draft sent Bubba Starling to Kansas City, and that is starting to look unlikely. KC seems to be prioritizing a college arm that can get to the majors quickly with their first pick. The Royals are almost ready to win, and they want a guy who can help them do so now. Starling does not fit that bill. However, he won’t get past Washington in any scenario. Other than that, I think this projection looks pretty likely.
If it does break down this way, I think the Cubs would take any of the guys in spots 10 through 13 over Bradley. Francisco Lindor we have talked about before and makes a lot of sense in this spot. Matt Barnes, a RHP out of Connecticut, would be a top 5 or top 3 pick in almost any other draft. He would be a great choice at #9 and fits the Cubs drafting history almost perfectly. The guy I would take, though, would be LHP Jed Bradley out of Georgia Tech. The Cubs need left handed starting pitching and like to take college players early. This is looking like a perfect match. George Springer wouldn’t be a bad choice either.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Jed Bradley is likely to get past Cleveland. Good lefties are just too valuable to fall very far.
With both Sonny Gray and Jed Bradley off the board, Barnes, Springer, and Lindor look like the choices again. For some reason, though, Baseball America has dropped both Springer and Lindor deep into the first round, and coming off the board ahead of them is a really interesting player in Mike Mahtook from LSU. The Cubs have drafted well from LSU before (Theriot and LeMahieu) and I see no reason they would not go back to that well again. Add Mahtook to the list of possible picks for the Cubs.
I have to say, though, that if the Angels do get to pick Lindor at #17, their draft room may pass out from shock. True shortstops with a good bat don’t show up every year, and to get one that deep in the draft is pretty remarkable.
I have a few issues with this one. Arizona’s pick at #7 is not protected. If they don’t sign that guy, they will not get a compensation pick in the 2012 draft in exchange. As a result, I do not see any scenario in which they draft a guy who will be tough to sign at #7 and a much easier signing with their protected pick at #3, and that is exactly what this draft has Arizona doing. Arizona has had private workouts with Lindor this spring, but I have to think that is because Arizona is considering taking him at #3, not #7. If they take a college pitcher, it just makes sense to do it at #7 since college pitching tends to be a much easier sign. This draft also sends Starling to KC at #5, which while it would be a great story, I think is unlikely.
If the draft shapes up this way, I think the Cubs take Sonny Gray. They took him out of high school, and that has been a bit of a predictor for the Cubs.
In just a matter of hours all the speculation goes away, and we get to see just how this thing will play out. One thing to be sure of, the Cubs will get a very good player. Not one name I have mentioned in this article would be a disappointed at all. Some might be surprising, but all would be great additions to the farm system.