Chicago Cubs: Where might they go in the 2020 draft?

Nico Hoerner - Chicago Cubs (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Nico Hoerner - Chicago Cubs (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

We are less than a month away from the Cubs and the 2020 Major League Baseball draft. The draft has been shortened to five rounds, and teams can’t afford to draft busts anymore.

Where might the Chicago Cubs look for their first-round pick? In the last couple of drafts, the Cubs have focused on pitching. Their first pick in each draft since 2016 has been a pitcher, aside from 2018, when they took Nico Hoerner.

In the 2019 draft, the focus was building up the number of pitchers in the farm system, with seven of their first ten picks being pitchers. In the first round, Ryan Jensen was drafted out of Fresno State. In six starts at Short-Season Eugene, Jensen posted a 2.25 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 12 innings, but he walked 14. The walks are alarming, but Doc Gooden walked over 100 hitters in his first full pro season!

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Other pitchers in the farm system include Brailyn Marquez, up-and-comer Kohl Franklin, Adbert Alzolay, and Cory Abbott, among others. Marquez’s potential is through the roof, and Franklin posted a 2.31 ERA last year with 49 strikeouts in 39 innings.

He is only 19 and the potential is high. Abbott posted an ERA right around three in Double-A and is right on the doorstep of Wrigley Field, as is Tyson Miller, who split his season between Iowa and Tennessee last year. Alzolay made his debut at Wrigley and was going to be fighting for a spot for the Opening Day roster in Spring Training.

On the offensive side of things, Brennen Davis is the Cubs’ top offensive prospect and has the potential to develop into a 30 home run hitter. His fellow outfield counterpart in Cole Roederer can grow into a player with 20-25 dingers. That’s where the extent of the power in the system ends, and it’s alarming. The focus on this year’s draft should be on power hitters and beefing up the long-ball potential.

Patrick Bailey

Patrick Bailey is a catcher, which the Cubs stocked up on last year, drafting Ethan Hearn and signing two international free agents. Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini are still locked up for a few seasons as well. Bailey has displayed decent power numbers at NC State, hitting 13 home runs in his freshman season, but the power diminished the next two years, just hitting a combined 11. Jim Callis predicted the Cubs draft Tyler Soderstrom, who is a catcher by trade, but is athletic enough to play third base and an outfielder; being 18 years old, he will grow into his power.

Heston Kjerstad

There is no way Heston Kjerstad falls to 16, but a man can dream. There may not be another player with more raw power in the entire draft then Kjerstad, except for Spencer Torkelson, who is about as close to MLB ready as you can be. If Kjerstad falls to 16, it’s a no-brainer for the Cubs. He already has power at Arkansas and has kept it consistently throughout his career, unlike Bailey. He has a very big load to his swing, so his timing has to precise, and Kjerstad will rack up the strikeouts. You take that risk with his reward.

Austin Hendrick

The last high school player to be taken in the first round by the Cubs was Albert Almora, and he has never developed an offensive game, so that may have steered the Cubs away. At 6′ and 195 pounds, Austin Hendrick is only 18 and will grow into his body. His swing generates loft, and he has quick hands, which will lead to good power. The Cubs, like more polished bats, but Hendrick may be the best high school hitter in the country, and if he gets to 16, it could be an intriguing option.

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Ed Howard

He is here because he is a shortstop and is a hometown boy. Mount Carmel is 17 minutes from Chicago, and shortstops are athletic enough to play anywhere, which the Cubs love. At 6’2, he is still growing into his frame.

Ed Howard repeatedly makes hard contact and could stick at the position with his size, which may steer the Cubs away because he doesn’t fit an area of need. Hoerner and Javier Baez have the middle infield handled for years, especially if Baez’s contract extension gets done. Howard will be an intriguing option if the Cubs are looking for an athletic hitter that can play the game well on both sides of the ball.