Dec 12, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer talks with reporters after the Rule 5 Draft during the MLB Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Cubs could take a catcher with first-round draft pick

With less than a month until the 2014 MLB June Amateur Draft, mock drafts are becoming more and more relevant, and with that in mind, the latest mock draft from Baseball America should be of interest to Chicago Cubs fans.

The lack of top-tier pitching prospects has been well-documented in the Cubs’ system, leading many to assume that the front office duo of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would take a pitcher with the first-round, fourth overall pick in the draft in June.

Baseball America, though, has Chicago selecting Max Pentecost, a catcher from Kennesaw State – although it is noted that the organization could also select high school pitcher Tyler Kolek or Aaron Nola, a right-hander from Louisiana State.

Pentecost, who stands 6’2″ tall and weighs just under 200 pounds, is known as an above-average runner – at least in terms of his fellow catching prospects – who has a solid approach at the plate and adequate skills behind the plate.

He underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow during his senior season of high school baseball, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed him at all. Last season with the Owls, he hit .302 in 57 games and also caught 13 would-be base stealers, as well. An 2014 Draft preview video talked about his exploits in the Cape Cod League, where he was named the MVP.

Last summer, his MVP season was noted by many throughout the game after the right-handed-hitting backstop hit .346, which was the third-best average in the league. He also ranked in the top five in terms of home runs (6), runs batted in (29), slugging percentage (.538) and on-base percentage (.425). He also accounted for one-fifth of his team’s runs during the summer season.

The Cubs’ selection of Pentecost is contingent on the moves made by the three teams preceding them in the draft – the Houston Astros, Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox. It was widely believed that Carlos Rodon, a North Carolina State left-hander, would be the first overall pick, but he has not performed as well of late, and it is likely his collegiate career is over.

Baseball America has the Astros selecting another left-hander, Brady Aiken, with the first pick in this year’s draft, with Rodon falling to the White Sox at the third overall selection. Sandwiched between those two picks, Miami is projected to take catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson, although there is still rampant speculation that the Marlins – especially owner Jeffrey Loria – could be enticed by Rodon, who is a Cuban-American Miami native.

The Cubs’ recent high draft picks are beginning to climb through the ranks of the organization, which is what has stalled the major moves at the big league level. Epstein and Hoyer have both remained dedicated to building the franchise from the ground-up through prospects and internal development, and signing a player like Pentecost – who will likely sign for far less than some of the more-hyped names in the draft – could allow the team to have more resources available later in the draft.

Tags: Chicago Cubs MLB Draft

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