Here at North Side Bound it’s always Draft season so, in addition to MLB Draft rankings, Mocks, and player analysis, we’re continuing with a monthly Q&A. In this Q&A, I tackle questions related to past draft picks and next year’s class. It’s very early so I’ll avoid specific links of players and teams. I wouldn’t put much stock into those links until much, much closer to the Draft. Enjoy Part 1 of our December Q&A.
This far out it’s tough to pin down who will be there at 7, but let me share my Top 10 with Future Performance Grade (similar to FV) in parentheses.
1. Chase DeLauter OF (60), 2. Termarr Johnson SS/2B (60), 3. Druw Jones CF (55), 4. Brooks Lee SS/3B (55), 5. Daniel Susac C (55), 6. Gavin Cross OF (55), 7. Jace Jung 2B (55), 8. Cam Collier 3B (50), 9. Bryce Hubbart LHP (50), 10. Dylan Lesko RHP (45)
It’s worth noting that Jacob Berry (3B/1B) out of LSU just missed the cut. Elijah Green (OF) is a bit further down as well as I’m very concerned about his swing and miss. Both players are most commonly seen in Top 5 lists right now.
So to get to your question, I could see a path to Jace Jung still being available at 7. His profile is very similar to Nick Gonzales, drafted 7th overall by the Pirates in 2020. Both are bat-first college second basemen. It’s not the sexiest profile and that can ding a player in evaluations. I still believe in Jung in this draft and even mocked him first overall to Baltimore in my recent Mock. It also wouldn’t shock me to see him fall towards the back of the Top 10.
Since both questions touch on aspects of the other, I’ll answer both here:
The college hitting group is so strong entering the year. DeLauter, Lee, Cross, Jung, and Berry is one heck of top of a draft and college hitters offer a tremendous amount of safety in their profiles. However you could make a case that the high school hitters are almost as impressive with Johnson, Jones, Collier, and even Green showing off tantalizing potential. Depending on how things line up we could see hitters dominate the top 10.
However (college) pitching still plays in the draft. Left handed Connor Prelipp was the presumptive top talent in the draft class before needing Tommy John surgery and it wouldn’t shock me to see him taken fairly early if he’s able to get on the mound in team showcases. Other names like righthanders Landon Sims (Mississippi State) and Blade Tidwell (Tennessee) feature multiple tantalizing pitches, but need to show off during the 2022 college season to solidly a top ranking. Sims also is starting this season after dominating in the pen so that will be something to watch. Rounding out the college pitchers to watch is my top pitcher in the draft class, LHP Bryce Hubbart. He dominated the Cape Cod League with a 89-94 (T97) mph fastball with plus spin and life. He shows off a solid curveball and changeup. It’s a package that can get teams excited. I know I am.
On the high school side, RHP Dylan Lesko is the consensus top high school pitcher. He’s plus fastball, plus changeup, and average or better slider and curveball. Prep pitching is always risky, but he’s a legit Top 10 (even Top 3-5) contender. I have Hubbart right ahead of Lesko currently but it’s close and this season will really help determine specific ranks.
So could the Cubs take the top pitcher at 7 if the first six slots are hitters? Absolutely and with Carter Hawkins coming on board it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Cubs be willing to take more chances with a riskier higher upside profile in the first round. We saw Cleveland pivot to that strategy in recent years with great success. Gavin Williams and Daniel Espino are prime examples.
As far as who to take based on timeline, I don’t mess around. I’d take the player who projects the best even if it would take a few extra years.
I’ll ask around on the food in the draft room. Now you have me curious.
James Triantos and DJ Herz have soared up Cubs prospect rankings after each being an overslot selection in their respective drafts. If you’re looking for a similar prospect from the 2022 class, there are a bunch of names to choose from, but I am digging Chris Stanfield from Tallahassee, FL. The 6’2” outfielder has a line drive approach and swing path and showcases high contact rates. He is a plus runner with a plus arm and likely gets a chance at CF in the pros. The exit velocities I have are a bit lower than preferred, but he’s a prime candidate to blossom with professional instruction. It’s not a direct comp, but the swing path reminds me of Brennen Davis. I’m higher on him than the consensus. The Auburn commit will rank in my Top 100.
Midwest college arm to dream on? You should be thinking of Adam Mazer out of Iowa. Mazer has electric stuff (similar to Brown) with his mid-to-upper 90s 4-seam and hard sinking 90-93 mph 2-seam fastball. He complements those fastballs with a hard breaking ball that most often resembles a slider in the low 80s. After two seasons with South Dakota State, Mazer enters 2022 as a transfer who still needs to work on control, but has future upside in the middle of a pro rotation.
Questions to be Answered
Thank you for the questions! You sent in so many good ones that I’ll post Part 2 soon.