Before we get to those mock drafts, there was one bit of news from yesterday that is going to have a huge impact for Cubs fans. MLB has reinstated signing bonuses for nondrafted free agents (NDFAs) back to a $125,000 cap. During the pandemic, it was set at $20,000. The Cubs have gone hard with NDFAs the past two years and they have had a ton of success with Matt Mervis and Tyler Santana this year and Ben Leeper and Scott Kobos last year. If the Cubs are willing to spend, there could be a windfall of players for them just waiting to get inked.
Under last year’s guidelines, I was expecting the Cubs to sign 7 or 8 guys this year. Now, that increases by 5 or so. It could also impact the Cubs willingness to do draft and follows of junior college players if they know they can load up on NDFAs after the draft is complete. The Cubs scouts are going to be busy calling their guys the next three days seeing what the possible NDFAs will sign for now.
Yesterday morning was a little crazy. There were a lot of major prognostications by most of the top publications in baseball. They were several mock drafts and a few new rankings but there was no consensus as to who was going to the Cubs. The only thing that all the major sites agreed on was that the Cubs are going to get a very good player at number seven. So, in other words, be prepared to be surprised.
Mock draft week began with our own Greg Zumach channeling Campbell shortstop Zack Neto to the Cubs at number seven. This means that Neto’s probably going to sign for a little bit under slot, but not too much. Greg also named Elijah Green as a possibility along with Brooks Lee and a few other players. When describing Neto, Greg said the Cubs liked to “identify players with supreme make-up, high floor, strong ceiling potential.”
Here is what Greg said specifically about Neto:
Next step on the list is MLB Pipeline. This is not their final mock draft as that will come out at some point tomorrow. Jonathan Mayo has the Cubs taking Cam Collier from Chipola Junior College. The 17-year-old would be my dream pick but there is only a slim chance he makes it to the Cubs. Mayo pretty much sums up it well on the scenario the Cubs most likely face: “The Cubs look like they might take whoever is left from our ‘Magnificent Seven,’ and it’s long been reported they like Collier a lot.“
When it came to Baseball America, they had two mock drafts this week. One was by Carlos Collazo, who I really like. He also had Cam Collier going to the Cubs. The other mock draft was a collection of staff writers. They had Jackson Holliday dropping to the Cubs. I could handle that! You will find I am pretty easy about tomorrow. The Cubs will be fine.
Kylie McDaniel of ESPN threw out the name of Elijah Green, who clearly has the highest ceiling of any draft pick this year. The only concern with Green is that he is going to need a little bit of work. There is some swing and miss to his game, especially against breaking balls. Tip of the day, the Cubs can work on that. I would be ecstatic if he fell to the Cubs.
Prospect Live had Termarr Johnson falling to the Cubs. Sign me up! The soon to be second baseman would also be an excellent pick for the Cubs. It would be cool to see him playing second base beside Christian Hernandez next summer in Myrtle Beach. Think about that for a few minutes! Here is how Prospects Live describes the Cubs’ process:
We’ve heard from numerous sources the Pirates prefer Collier to Johnson, so that’s the route we’re taking here. If things go haywire and neither player is available, Campbell shortstop Zach Neto is well-liked by the Cubs as well. Also worth monitoring, according to some in the industry, if the “right player” isn’t available to the Cubs here, they may look to cut a pretty significant under-slot deal and proceed with a quantity-over-quality (at least by industry-board standards) approach the rest of the way.
As for FanGraphs, they really don’t have a mock draft. They do have rankings that are based more on Fantasy value and right now they have Dylan Lesko at the number seven spot. That is way too high for him in draft terms. If the Cubs are going to take a pitcher, it’s likely to be Connor Prielipp from Alabama. However, Collier is at 9 on their list and Green is at 11. Still, Zach Neto is highly thought of at 5 and would be the 54th ranked prospect in all of MiLB. Even better, I will let FanGraphs tell you in their own words.
Neto had an incredible statistical 2021, then reinforced that performance by hitting on Cape Cod, and again by hitting (checks notes) .407/.514/.769 (!) as a junior. He’s a compact-framed, contact-oriented middle infielder from a smaller conference, but Neto gets the most out of his body by taking one of the more athletic, high-octane swings in the entire draft. He has a cartoonish leg kick and his hands load similarly to Javier Báez, and while Neto doesn’t have quite the same all-world whip as Báez, he is a plus rotational athlete who hits some epic pull-side homers. The huge swing doesn’t detract from Neto’s feel for contact, though he does dial down his footwork with two strikes and becomes even tougher to make swing and miss. He swung and missed just 10 times all year with two strikes on him. A plus athlete, Neto does some acrobatic things at shortstop and when he puts his whole body into a throw, he appears to have plenty of arm for the left side.
The Athletic’s Keith Law echoed Greg Zumach by taking Zach Neto. That’s all I am going to say about Law’s list which is a mess. Then again, so might the draft!
Whoever the Cubs end up getting tomorrow, that player is going to fit in nicely with the Cubs as a likely top 75 prospect. Depending on the prospect, he’s likely to be ranked anywhere on a Cubs’ list from 5 to 1 initially. I am not going to lose any sleep tonight over who the Cubs will pick. But I am excited to see who they pick on Sunday at 7 and at 47 as that pick will dictate how the Cubs draft will go.