The 2018 MLB Amateur Player Draft began on Monday with teams eager to find the next big star. For the Chicago Cubs, this year was especially important in acquiring a treasure trove of future talent.
Each year the Major League Baseball draft brings with it an air of excitement for baseball fans around the world. The hopes of finding the next Mike Trout or Bryce Harper stand fresh in fans minds and that level of confidence remains strong.
No doubt, it can be a tricky thing in talent evaluation for teams. Mike Trout, for example, was passed up by twenty-three teams, including the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, before eventually, in fact, becoming an Angel.
While the aspiration of finding the next big thing lasts, it is important to remember that patience is critical. The Cubs find themselves in a unique spot. As much of the roster currently consists of previous draft picks, to draft and develop the next wave is essential. Thankfully, the team got off to an excellent start in finding that next pool of talent.
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Position players aplenty
Nico Hoerner, Stanford, SS
Let’s be honest; every team needs a guy named Nico. Hoerner, a fourth-year Junior, has progressed exceptionally over the past few seasons and, in the Cubs eyes, will be a productive middle-infielder for years to come.
Last season at Stanford, Hoerner slashed .345/.391/.496 with 2 HR and 40 RBI over 57 games. He set highs in nearly every offensive category from his previous season, as well as showed off some previously unknown strengths.
Playing last season in the Cape Cod League, he showcased that aggressive potential batting .300 with 6 HR and 28 RBI in 40 games. Hoerner hit seven doubles and slugged .456 along with a .812 OPS.
Unfortunately, Hoerner does not have high power, however, what he lacks in power he makes up for in other areas. Above-average speed became apparent for him last year as he reached a career-high in stolen bases with fifteen.
Hoerner also possesses an above-average glove and has shown his razzle-dazzle at points throughout his playing career. General talk of analysts surrounding Hoerner is unsure of if he will stay at shortstop or move to a different position and could see that transition to second base.
As far as how he fits in with the Cubs, there is a general feeling among many fans that Addison Russell could become a trade chip if the Cubs are inclined on moving someone. The teams No.2 prospect, Aramis Ademan is also waiting in the wings. That being said, there was much praise for the Cubs No.24 overall selection, with high hopes of him garnering future success for the club.
Brennen Davis, OF, Basha High School
The Cubs made Davis their second-round selection at No.62 overall. Davis, of course, is still in high school. According to his scouting report, Davis has all of the necessary tools to help him become a star at the major league level, however, will have to work hard to reach that potential.
Davis, an outfielder, does have decent size and athleticism. Davis earned 2018 Rawlings-Perfect Game 3rd team All-American honors. His 70-grade speed is a sure sign of hope too. The hope, many years from now, is that Davis can slot into center field.
As a senior, Davis batted .444/.593/.761 with an OPS of 1.355 with 3 HR and 20 RBI in twenty-three games, spanning eighty-six plate appearances.
Currently, Davis has a commitment to the University of Miami. The Cubs will hopefully do their best to entice him enough that Davis feels compelled to immediately journey down the path of professional baseball in hopes of budding into a star.
Cole Roederer, OF, Hart High School
With the 77th overall pick, the Cubs made Roederer their compensatory pick in the second round. Roederer, like Davis, is an outfielder as well as still in high school. Also, like Davis, Roederer already has a college commitment, to UCLA.
From reports, it felt like a bit of a surprise pick by the Cubs, since Roederer was not supposed to have been selected at this stage in the draft. Nevertheless, never discount Theo and the gang for their talent evaluation.
Last season, his senior season, Roederer hit .392 with an OBP of .537, knocking nineteen runs batted in. All reports believe that he has the tools to reach the 20/20 threshold potentially. His increased bat speed could lead to him becoming an above-average power hitter.
Unfortunately, Roederer suffered a separated shoulder on his non-throwing arm, so it remains to be seen if and how this will impact the decision of signing with the club and whether it will affect him moving forward.
Ace in the hole
Paul Richan, RHP, University of San Diego
Richan became the final draft pick on the first day by the Cubs. The Junior out of the University of San Diego began his collegiate career on an atrocious note in 2016, pitching to an 8.88 ERA in just 24.1 innings of work.
The following year, Richan bounced back beautifully. In 76.2 innings, Richan pitched to a much more respectable 3.05 ERA. He finished the season 5-2. He posted an 8.57 K/9 to just a 2.47 BB/9, which is stable at the college level.
Last season, his final year at USD, Richan reached a career high in innings pitched with 89.2. His ERA did see an increase, however, as it rose to a 4.62. Most notably, Richan also saw his K/9 increase to 10.14 and his BB/9 decrease to 1.30. He also finished with 101 strikeouts.
Richan brings with him an arsenal of four pitches: fastball, curveball, slider, and a changeup. Potentially, Richan could find himself in the back end of the starting rotation at the major league level. Hopefully, he can pan out to be more than that for the Cubs.