Cubs 2016 Draft Strategy Might Have Options Within Options

Next week’s MLB draft might be the most unpredictable event of the season when it comes to the Cubs. With only $2.3 million to spend, they are going to have to hurry up and wait until Friday, June 10th, to make their first selection at #104. The management team will have to sit through two rounds on Thursday night and then 27 more picks on Friday morning before they get to choose a player.

There are a lot of things that could happen before the Cubs pick. A player could freefall and the Cubs might get who they initially wanted, or they might actually reach for a player who they feel might not be around in the fourth round.

If I was a betting man, I would go with the Cubs selecting another bat. To me, the top bat in the early 100’s range might be high school catching phenom Brad Debo out of Durham, North Carolina. Debo has a plus arm and at 6-1 and 190 lbs., he has some potential for power from the left side. However, high school catchers don’t always make good pro catchers, and the Cubs have preferred college catchers the past four drafts, except for Tyler Alamo.

Good thing I am not a betting man. I prefer other options.

Players who could drop

A few weeks ago I wrote about Kyle Funkhouser possibly falling to #104 and I am still holding onto that dream. Another player whose stock is dropping is Arizona 3B Bobby Dalbec, which I find surprising because he was ranked as one of the best college bats entering the 2016 season. The 6-4 junior could return for another season, as his .253/5/36 split did not impress many. But if he goes back, he loses most of his negotiating power.

Pitchers Kyle Cody of Kentucky and Zac Gallen of North Carolina could both slide to the third round as well. I think Gallen would be the more stable pitcher of the two, while Cody has the higher ceiling. 

Maybe, but probably not

The Cubs would have to reach a little to get the next three options as they are slotted in the 110’s and 120’s.

Right-handed high school pitcher Zach Lingenfelter might be worth a shot. The big (6-4, 232 lb) 18-year-old comes from Sevierville, Tennessee, a little south of where the Smokies play in Kodak. He has a big arm and not much projection left. However, mid-90’s heat is mid-90’s heat.

Kel Johnson is an outfielder out of Georgia Tech with a large frame (6-4, 211) and the potential for power. He still has some room to fill out and scouts love his ability to listen and improve from year to year. Sounds like a Cub already.

Maybe the best pick on the list is Mike Shawaryn, a pitcher from the University of Maryland. The 6-3, 211 Shawaryn is known for his fastball/slider combo. His fastball tops out at 91 mph, but his plus slider in the 78-80 mph range is his best pitch. He does have a change that is considered below average as well. I think the Cubs could make a couple of tweaks to his delivery and he could improve quickly. Here is a nice profile of Shawaryn from the Big Ten Network.

Should be able to get

At some point next Thursday, the Cubs will move beyond the third round and get into rounds 4-10, where they have had a lot of success the past few years. Here are some names of prospects I think might be worth taking a shot on.

Shane Bieber – The RHP from UCSB is ranked 213 on BA’s top 500 and should be a nice mid-round pick on Friday. At 6-2 and 175, he reminds me of Zach Hedges and could fill out a bit. There’s still some projection left which is one kind of player the Cubs like to select.

Jeremy Martinez – Drafted by the Cubs three years ago, the USC Catcher might be a good 4th round pick. 

Could the Cubs redraft Jeremy Martinez?

Delvin Zinn – The Cubs drafted him last year and he left Miss. St. and went the juco route, where he hit over .400. I think he’s the type of athlete the Cubs covet.

DJ Peters – He’s a big (6-6), powerful OF and headed to Cal-State Fullerton from Western Nevada. If the Cubs take him again, I think he has big leaguer written all over him.

Willie Abreu – Big-time power-hitting OF in big time situations from the U in Miami. However, he’s not known for his fielding prowess, just a big left handed bat.

Gio Brusa – Top-20 pick a year and a half ago who has fallen all the way down in the 220’s on BA’s top 500 list. Good athlete. 

Jacob Heyward – His big brother plays for the Cubs. He played for Miami and only hit .235 this year, but has a bit more of a power stroke than Jason.

Zach Remillard – Will’s little brother who plays 3B for Coastal Carolina, he also has a way with the bat. He hit .348 with 18 HRs as a senior this year and I think the Cubs go get him on Friday. Put a star by this one on your cheat sheet.

Jacob Niggemeyer – The former Ohio State pitching product spurned the Cubs two years ago and wound up in Western Iowa and won a national juco championship. He’s got the winning pedigree the Cubs like.

I think when the time comes, we might all end up being surprised with the Cubs’ selections. With so much that can happen in the draft, the Cubs could shift direction in a hurry. And with just $2.3 million to spend, their options are limited financially, but not strategically. It could be one of those drafts where the Cubs take players who will sign versus players they’d like to sign. One thing is for sure, though, it is going to interesting. I can already hear myself saying, “I didn’t see that coming.”




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Todd Johnson

During the day, Todd teaches US and World History in a small town in northern Illinois. As a Cubs fan, his first baseball memories are of Ernie, Billy, and Fergie. Baseball cards, Strat-O-Matic, and fantasy baseball eventually followed. The summer of 2017 will find him spending most of his days watching the South Bend Cubs throughout the Midwest and Great Lakes. You can always find him on Twitter: @cubscentral08

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