Unlike other professional sports, the MLB draft is all about projection. From the time a player’s name is called, it could take anywhere from six months to six years for him to make it to the majors. Two months ago, I detailed some draft strategies the Cubs have used in the past. This year, however, things are a little trickier. I’d like to think that the Cubs could get a high-quality bat and arm with the #30 and #28 picks.
The Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer/Jason McLeod triumvirate has proven adept at building the farm system back up, but things have changed a bit in the five years since they first took over. For one, the MLB product is back to getting top billing, which affords time for projects in the minors. There are other differences too.
Remember a couple years ago when everyone wondered how all the shortstops were going to fit? Well, as you’ll see in the organizational breakdown post coming next week, that position has gotten really thin in the Cubs system. With that in mind, I wanted to look at two shortstops who could be available when the Cubs pick in the first and compensatory rounds in 2017. Both are big, young, and projectable. Mark Vientos is ranked #32 on MLB.com’s Top 50 and Ricardo de la Torre is ranked #38.
Ricardo de la Torre – Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
6-2, 175 lbs; R/R; Committed to Auburn
With a season left in high school, the 17-year-old shortstop has a lot of tools left to develop. At 6’2” and 175, he can still add quite a bit to his frame. What I like most about de la Torre is his size and that he is not a finished project, far from it actually. He is likely to be a late first round or second round pick unless he begins to shoot up the boards in the spring.
I have seen a couple different videos of de la Torre hitting, one of which has him with a leg kick and another that does not. Regardless, you can definitely see the power in his swing. I think the video below might be the best because you get to see him in a variety of situations.
He’s not the most polished player yet, but you can see potential in the video. He comes across very athletic at times and a little stiff in other activities, particularly when it comes to issues with his feet aligning and planting in the field. I think the Cubs could work out some of those kinks, though.
The key in evaluating this young man is seeing glimpses of a power bat and that he’s a fluid athlete who could possibly play more than one position. I think de la Torre is one to keep an eye on. He might be a better pick for the compensation round rather than with the first selection.
Strengths: Good frame, power, very athletic, could play other positions
Areas of Concern: Approach, gameplay
What Others Say
Jim Callis: De La Torre has some serious tools to work with. When he gets his feet under him, he has a plus arm and he’s shown a very good glove as well. Not all are convinced he can play short, but he showed well at second during a tournament at home this past fall. While his bat is behind his other tools, he showed progress as he traveled the showcase circuit over the summer and could eventually hit for both average and some power.
If De La Torre continues to improve this spring, teams that believe the Auburn commit can stick at short will give him a long look in the first round.
Mark Vientos – American Heritage School, Plantation, Fla.
6-4, 190 lbs; R/R; Committed to Miami
Another player the Cubs might possibly get in the mid-20’s is Mark Vientos. The tall, rangy shortstop is a year younger than most HS seniors and was recently ranked by Baseball America as the number 14 high school prospect in the nation. I hope he can fall to the Cubs because he has a lot of power potential and is far from being filled out at 190 pounds. Whether he sticks at short or goes to a corner outfield spot is not a concern, since his bat has some serious “oomph” in it.
While Vientos has a tendency to get jammed and become “Mr. Pop-Up,” you can also see how easily he squares a ball up with excellent lift. He has good plant feet on defense and is said to have a very good arm.
I can see the Cubs taking him and just letting that bat progress. It is special. Vientos will be quite the power prospect and could easily find himself among the Cubs’ top 5-7 farmhands by the time he debuts. Compared to de la Torre, Vientos has a much higher floor and an equally high ceiling. As a result, he could move a little faster in the system.
Strengths: Good frame, versatile, only 17 on draft day, power potential, very athletic, physically projectable
Areas of Concern: Approach, gets jammed easily, long levers in swing generate power but allow for weakness to be exploited
What Other Say
Fan Graphs: broad base of precocious skills that led one scout to mention Manny Machado.”
Fueled by Sports: Vientos is one of the better high school prospects in the 2017 MLB Draft, with his five-tool potential and a projectable frame. He has a nice looking swing and has [the] potential to hit for both average and power. He also has a plus potential glove with an already plus arm.”