Chicago Cubs: Five college players Cubs need on their draft radar
By Robert Davis
The Chicago Cubs overhauled their team from farm-club to big-league under the careful tutelage of Senior V.P. of Scouting Jason McLeod.
Since Jason McLeod took over the Chicago Cubs scouting department in October 2011, the team has made a habit of going pitcher-heavy in the draft. In 2012, McLeod’s first draft, the Cubs selected 108 pitchers and only lost 32 to non-signings. He selected the franchise’s top pitching prospects, Pierce Johnson and Duane Underwood Jr., in consecutive rounds. Currently 17 of the top 30 Cubs prospects are pitchers.
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As for position players, McLeod balanced these pitching draftees by snagging offensive names like Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ in the first rounds of the 2013-15 drafts.
However, 2016 was the least offensive draft the Cubs had since beginning their rebuild. The team selected just nine position players in total, including three shortstops and three center fielders.
The Chicago Way
Chicago has a 67 percent retention rate for position players acquired through drafting under McLeod, lower than the 71 percent rate for pitchers. This suggests that the Cubs were focused on gaining a solid pitching foundation before addressing any major positional needs.
The Cubs are in a great position now to leverage their surplus of talent to trade for pitching and top-rated prospects. Players like Matt Szczur and Tommy La Stella will surely be shipped off before season’s end simply because they won’t get the playing time their talent deserves. This leaves McLeod in a flexible position where they can focus on cultivating talent to replace some of the current senior members in the group down the road.
According to Baseball America the class of 2017 is “rich in pitching as both USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and the Cape Cod League demonstrated over the summer.” With another strong pitching class on the rise, it seems very likely that the Cubs will grab a few bats and utility players before focusing in on a pitcher.
Here are some players the Cubs need to keep their eye on as draft day approaches.