The Cubs, like the Astros, are looking at their first draft with a new front office in place.
Since 1989, the team traditional has selected college players in the first round; 18 of their 28 first round selections have been college players:
C – 1 (College)
1B – 0
2B – 0
3B – 1 (High School)
SS – 4 (2 College, 2 High School)
OF – 6 (4 College, 2 High School)
LHP – 3 (2 College, 1 High School)
RHP – 13 (9 College, 4 High School)
I believe this will change this year. Epstein and Hoyer have been a little different in their strategies.
During Epstein’s time as the GM in Boston, he was over 9 drafts. In that time, the Red Sox had 23 first round picks:
2003 – 2
2004 – 0
2005 – 5
2006 – 4
2007 – 2
2008 – 2
2009 – 1
2010 – 3
2011 – 4
Of the 23, 14 were college players, 1 was a Jurior/Community College player, and 8 were high schoolers.
Hoyer oversaw 2 drafts as the GM of the Padres; he had 6 first round picks in that time:
2010 – 1
2011 – 5
4 players were high schoolers, while there was 1 college player and 1 JUCO player.
Between the 2, that’s 15 college, 2 JUCO, and 12 high schoolers. That’s closer to 50% than the previous Cub drafts.
Overall, Epstein drafts a lot of high school players after the first round; 46% of player the Red Sox took during his tenure were high school students (vs 12% JUCO and 42% College).
The key to look at though is his signed percentage; 29% of the high school players the Red Sox drafted signed. That’s much lower than the 53% of JUCO players and 81% of the college players. Overall, 54% of players drafted signed.
During his tenure, only 27 of the 248 players signed made the majors, good for 11%. The 2008 draft was the last one to have a player reach the majors; 2009-2011 players have not advanced that far yet.
Hoyer’s 2 drafts look much different. He’s drafted 103 players, and 56% were college players (58) and 13% were JUCO (13).
He also signed more players. 67% of players drafted by the Padres signed; they have a lower amount of HS players (16%), but that’s to be expected when they select few high schoolers. They jump up to 85% for JUCO draftees and 91% for college. It should be noted that Hoyer had 2 first rounders that didn’t sign, where as Theo did not have any non-signers.
Hoyer saw 1 player make the majors that he drafted, which seems surprising due to the fact that most players haven’t moved that quickly yet.
What the Cubs Can Expect
I think the new front office will be more Hoyer than Epstein. The Cubs system is pretty thin right now, so I’d expect them to draft more of the safer (i.e. College) players. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few high upside high schoolers were mixed in early on though, due to Theo’s influence and the weak crop of college hitters.
In 3 of my 4 mock drafts, I have them taking Lucas Giolito. Yes, he’s a high schooler, but he’s also the best prep arm in the draft. He’d be the best pitcher in the system. I’m also expecting that the better college arms are gone in the first 5 picks. Theo has shown that he’ll take a player coming off injury (Anthony Ranaudo, Jackie Bradley), so Giolito makes sense.
I also had the cubs taking Carlos Correa in one mock, but I wasn’t happy with that pick. They took SS Javier Baez last year and I don’t think they’ll take another prep SS.
The Cubs could take a shot at Duke righty Marcus Stroman. He’s smaller than your average starter and many scouts believe he’ll end up in the bullpen. But he throws hard and that’s a reason I could see them taking a chance.
Be sure to check out the 85% Sports MLB Mock Draft (Ver. 3.0).