Cubs focused on best talent in the draft, not a competitive timeline
By Jake Misener
On Sunday, the Chicago Cubs will make the seventh overall selection in the 2022 MLB Draft – marking their highest first-round pick since taking Kyle Schwarber fourth back in 2014 out of Indiana University.
Of course, that relationship drew to an abrupt close when the team non-tendered the outfielder following the 2020 season. Since then, Schwarber has gone on to blast 60 home runs in 199 games with the Nationals, Red Sox and Phillies – and leads all baseball with 28 long-balls here in 2022.
Hopefully, whoever the Cubs end up picking on Sunday (seriously, it could be one of seven or eight guys at this point) will leave the same type of mark on the franchise as Schwarber, who, love him or hate him, certainly left a legacy on the North Side.
As for who exactly will be that selection, Cubs vice president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz says the competitive timeline of the big league club won’t factor into that decision.
"“I don’t think we can try to time a window like that,” Kantrovitz told MLB.com. “I think if you start to get into that, then you might end up missing the best player available on the board. It’s such an imprecise science as it is.”"
This is relevant because of the number of high school position players we’re seeing commonly featured in mock drafts. There are four high schoolers and a junior college talent in 17-year-old Cam Collier currently featured on the latest mock draft from Baseball America.
Obviously, those high school players typically face a lengthier road to the big leagues. In the Cubs’ case, that might mean whoever the team selects on Sunday night could potentially not be part of the next championship contender on the North Side, but instead could factor in further down the road.
Cubs keeping their options open in the days leading up to the MLB Draft
Kantrovitz, like any intelligent baseball executive would, is keeping his cards close to his chest in the days leading up to the draft, deflecting on mentioning any players by name, but suggesting they have their list of guys they’re focused on and will be ready to adapt based on who comes off the board prior to their selection.
"“We don’t want to sort of confine ourselves and then be surprised,” Kantrovitz said. “So it’s better to cast a wider net than not. But certainly, for the second half of the spring, we’ve started to really zero in on who that top seven might be.”"
The good news is Chicago taking a higher-ceiling, but further off high school player doesn’t really mean anything when it comes to the Cubs being competitive at the big league level. The farm system has already received a massive influx of talent over the last 18 or so months and will likely add further in the next few weeks, especially with a likely trade of Willson Contreras looming.
Taking the best player on the board is the right move. So whether it’s a prep talent or a more polished college presence like Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada or LSU’s Jacob Berry, the Cubs have the chance to add a major piece to the long-term talent pool come Sunday.