For the first time in six seasons, the Chicago Cubs won’t have the luxury of a top ten pick in the MLB draft. While that luxury is usually a result of a bad team, the Cubs are now reaping the benefits of the lean years and are making a strong case to reach the World Series for the first time since the conclusion of World War II.
The success of the Chicago Cubs, in turn, means that the usual dominance from teams like the Cardinals and Pirates are a bit down this year. In addition to the young home-grown talent leading the way, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer got aggressive in free agency.
Despite the overwhelming support of the moves, they do come at a cost. That cost will allow the Cubs closest rival to remain competitive for years to come.
The St. Louis Cardinals will enter Thursday’s draft with a chance to stockpile a lot of high-level talent.
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An organization that is already viewed as one of the best in all of sports, the Cardinals consistently win using talent that has been drafted and developed in their system. In many regards, the Cubs are emulating the approach the Cardinals perfected.
The Cardinals, who hold the 23rd overall pick, will also have the 33rd and 34th picks as part of that compensation. Those picks represent the Cubs 1st and 2nd round picks. Accordingly, the Cubs won’t get a chance to pick until the 3rd round with the 104th overall pick.
A contract rule meant to soften the blow from the loss of a major roster spot, the Cardinals can smile a bit knowing the aggressiveness of the Cubs is cashing in on them as well. Overall, the Cardinals will make four selections before the Cubs can make one.
The long road to success for the Cubs started in 2011 when the Cubs drafted Javier Baez 9th overall. Oddly enough, it was soon-to-be-fired GM Jim Hendry who drafted Baez and got him signed before being relieved of duty in August of that year.
Since then, the Cubs have hit home runs on many of their first-round picks:
- Albert Almora, 6th overall 2012
- Kris Bryant, 2nd overall 2013
- Kyle Schwarber, 4th overall 2014
- Ian Happ, 9th overall 2015
With the exception of Happ, the remaining players listed here have made it to Wrigley and are contributing to much of the success of this ballclub. The pressure and expectations on this team are as high as I can remember for any professional franchise.
The formula has worked to this point, but after this week, the Cardinals will be ready to match the foundation the Cubs have built.
The novel on the best rivalry in baseball is about to add a decade worth of chapters.