Ed Howard – Picture by Todd Johnson
With the 2022 MLB Draft now less than a month away, today is a good time to look back at the last ten draft classes. For years at Cubs Central, I handed out grades for each year. The most recent draft class does not get graded until the fall because lots of players just started playing in the ACL. This year’s list goes back to 2011 and with previous grades listed. This is actually the ninth straight year of this post.
This year saw a proliferation of Cub prospects arriving in the majors. The Cubs now have several pitchers on their active staff who were both drafted, signed, and developed by the club. It will be weird to see how that is going to be change in the coming years.
2011 – Previous Grades – B, B+, A, A-, A-
Highlighted by Javy Baez, this class is all gone. 2022 Grade – A-
2012 – Previous Grades – B+, A-, B, B-, B-, C, C-, D
David Bote only remains. There were several pros that made it out of this class, just not with the Cubs. Almora was the key here and his career never took off. 2022 Grade – D-
2013 – Previous Grades – A, A, A+, A+, A+, A+, A+, A+
This draft class brought a MVP, a Rookie of the Year, and a World Series title. And that’s just Kris Bryant. No one is left. Rinse and repeat for eternity. 2022 Grade – A+
2014 – Previous Grades – A-, A, A, B, B-, B-. C-, C
Justin Steele is still at it and he has been the only one left for a year since Schwarber was non-tendered. 2022 Grade – C
2015 – Previous Grades – B, B, C, C –, C–, C
Ian Happ headlined this class. While it does have a few guys left, most will be MiLB free agents after this season. Ian Happ, PJ Higgins, Craig Brooks, Donnie Dewees, Bryan Hudson, Scott Effross, and Tyler Payne are all still Cubs. Possibly four major leaguers could come out of this group if Hudson gets a chance. 2022 Grade – C+
2016 – Previous Grades – B-, B+, B+, C, D
The Cubs did not have a first or second round pick that year but Matt Swarmer made it to the majors. That’s it so far. Wyatt Short, Delvin Zinn, and Zach Davis are still left. Thomas Hatch made it to the majors along with Tyson Miller for other clubs, although Tyson did get in a couple of games with Chicago. 2022 Grade – F. I thought this draft was originally stacked with pitchers that would make it as Cubs. It just didn’t happen and I am disappointed.
2017 – Previous Grades – B-, C-, A-, B-, B
This class is crazy. There are a lot of guys left – Keegan Thompson, Nelson Velazquez, Jeremiah Estrada, Ben Hecht, Luis Vazquez, Jared Young, Brandon Hughes, Peyton Remy, Erich Uelmen, Brendon Little, and Cam Balego. 2022 Grade – B. It now has two arms in Chicago and more are coming. A few guys need a little bit more time in the minors to finish their development. We could see 4 or 5 guys in Chicago from this class by the middle of 2023. I am most excited for Estrada to get a shot next season in Chicago now that he is healthy and throwing gas.
2018 – Previous Grades – A –, A –, A-
Nico Hoerner has already made it. Ethan Roberts as well. Cam Sanders is very close as is Levi Jordan. Brennen Davis was close before a back injury and this class has been devastated with ailments and maladies the past two seasons. The pandemic year really derailed any momentum this class had. My surprise name to see next year – Blake Whitney. 2022 Grade – A-
2019 – Previous Grades – B
This class looked really good shortly after signing in and the pandemic changed everything. DJ Herz looks to be the star of the class along with Chase Strumpf. Nelson Maldonado is close to Chicago along with Cayne Ueckert while Bryce Wyndham is at Tennessee. There’s been a lot of disappointments in terms of injuries, performance, and some guys have retired. Right now, the high school arms of Herz, Schlaffer, and Hodge look to be the best thing this class has going down the road. But the biggest surprise is Darius Hill is knocking on the door from Iowa as we speak. 2022 Grade – B. This could be an A in 2024 if some guys right the ship and make it to Chicago.
2020 – Previous Grades – B+
For this class, I included the nondrafted free agents the Cubs signed in addition to the five draft picks. Matt Mervis has taken off this year while last year Ben Leeper did the same. Both guys are going to be pushing for spots here shortly with Leeper likely to get a chance this year if he stays healthy. As for Mervis, he is still about a year away. For two prospects to be so close already is a good things.
The injuries have taken them down this year but they could bounce back next year pretty easily as long as they get healthy. I really enjoyed watching Ed Howard evolve this spring. I was really impressed with his skillset in person. If he comes back healthy, this class could be something. Pitcher Sam Thoreson has not seen the field this year but I really liked his live arm. Luke Little has shown signs of life but Koen Moreno has yet to see any time since signing. Burl Carraway is on the IL this year. Kobos has been up and down this summer with injuries while Bradlee Beesley has made it all the way to Double-A. 2022 Grade – B The injuries have taken them down this year but they could bounce back next year pretty easily as long as they get healthy. I really enjoyed watching Ed Howard evolve this spring. I was really impressed with his skillset in person. If he comes back healthy, this class could be something.
2021 Class – It is still too early to place an initial grade on last year‘s draft class. About half of the first day of picks have had a rough season with injuries this year. Only Wicks, Triantos, Murray. and Martin are seeing extended playing time. Opitz just came off the injured list along with Frankie Scalzo and Zac Leigh but both have been pleasant surprises when healthy. Christian Olivo just started playing in the Arizona Complex League and switched to the outfield and Dominic Hambley has thrown in two games so far. 2022 Initial Grade – Will come in October.