Latest MLB.com mock draft has Cubs eyeing high school infielders

Will the Cubs break their string of taking arms in the first round?
Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs
Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs / David Banks/GettyImages
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In three of the last four first rounds, the Cubs have gone with a college arm - but they could take a new direction in this year's MLB Draft, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com.

"The Cubs are sorting through several bats, with the high school group (Nimmala, Houck, Miller, Emerson, Eldridge) maybe ahead of the college crop (Taylor, Shaw, Gonzalez, Wilson, Bradfield). They've taken college pitchers in the first round of the three of the last four Drafts, and Florida right-hander Huston Waldrep would be their only viable option in this scenario."

Jim Callis, MLB.com

Callis projects Chicago will take prep infielder Arjun Nimmala out of Strawberry Crest HS in Florida with the #13 overall pick. Perfect Game has him ranked as the top shortstop in the country and #3 high school player at any position - although he's committed to Florida State, as well. This snippet from his Perfect Game scouting report tells a story of a potential big-time power bat.

"Incredible power for anyone let alone a 6-1 shortstop. Ball explodes off the barrel with excellent carry and exit velocity. Some of the best power we've seen from the shortstop position. "

Perfect Game

He's made big strides in the last few years, as he continues to fill out and grow into his body a bit more. The last time the Cubs took a prep infielder in the first round it was local feel-good story Ed Howard. Since then, the 21-year-old suffered a freak hip injury and has really struggled this year in limited action, batting just .172/.186/.259.

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There's plenty of intrigue heading into the 2023 MLB Draft. For example, who will go #1 overall, with rumors that potential first pick Dylan Crews doesn't want to play in Pittsburgh, the team who picks first this year? LSU teammate and fellow national champion Paul Skenes is also in the conversation as a big-time arm who could be in the big leagues by 2024.