Today we’ll be continuing our breakdown of collegiate hitters that will be available in the MLB draft on July 9th. A few weeks ago we looked at two of the SEC’s best that likely won’t be there when the Chicago Cubs pick at number 13, then we looked at four guys that should go somewhere in Chicago’s range, last week we looked at three guys that should definitely be there and now we’re going to look at some under slot options.
Other writers may choose to write about high school bats or pitchers in either the college or high school ranks, but as I posited earlier this week, the safest and highest upside play in the first round over the last 20 years has been to draft the college hitter so that’s what I’m going to hone in on.
For now, here are four players that the Cubs could draft and save some money to spend on high-end players later in the draft.
Jacob Wilson SS Grand Canyon
Wow. The stats are pretty impressive and the size is ideal for a player at the major league level. As a freshman, Wilson hit .313/.376/.440 with just 19 strikeouts. Those 19 strikeouts are nearly four times as many strikeouts as he had this season. In 2023 Wilson hit .411/.461/.635 with 19 walks and just 5 strikeouts.
There are players that will be drafted this weekend that have had five strikeouts in a game and he went 217 plate appearances this season with just five. Last year he went 275 plate appearances with seven. He has elite bat-to-ball skills, and again the size is ideal for a shortstop, but he has played against… less than stellar competition at Grand Canyon University.
Keith Law compared him to a player Cubs fans know pretty well:
"He doesn’t drive the ball at all or hit it hard, and his launch angle is barely over zero degrees, giving him one of the lowest of any college hitter who might go in the top-50 picks. He’s a fringe-average runner, as well. That’s a long way of saying that it’s a tough profile, albeit one we’ve seen go in the first round – Nick Madrigal and Kevin Newman are two recent examples. He is someone who projects to play in the big leagues with very, very high probability, but who may not have the ceiling of a regular."- The Athletic
Fangraphs believes in the bat even if it’s never going to do much for power:
"He can poke pitches on the outer edge to the opposite field, but does most of his extra-base damage to his pull side. He may only ever have a one-note offensive profile but it's the most important note, a very loud note, and that's usually enough to play shortstop, where Wilson has become very good over the last year."- FanGraphs
Finally, MLB.com likes the pedigree that he has as a second-generation (potential) professional ball player and the characteristics that come with it including his baseball IQ. They’re the only outlet that mentions him coming off of shortstop for third base but they think his bat could carry that position, although I’m less certain of that.