For those that followed our content here at North Side Bound, you’ll know that we really ramped up our MLB Draft content after May and as we wrap up our player reviews from the 2022 class (kudos to Todd), we’ll transition into the 2023 class. We’re hard at work to tweak our draft model (more on that later) to hopefully release our preliminary rankings late this fall/early this winter. And yes, there will be a mock draft. But before we move past 2022, let’s explore the path untraveled. What if we at North Side Bound made the selections knowing what we know now based on who would sign and for what bonus? Introducing the 2022 Chicago Cubs Shadow Draft.
A shadow draft is fairly common in the blogosphere. It’s a thought-piece where draft fans make their picks after the fact about who they’d have taken for their respective team. To run our shadow draft we had to follow a few simple rules:
- The player taken at a certain pick had to be available when that selection was made. We couldn’t “buy down” a player. So, for instance, the Cubs (in this exercise) couldn’t offer Dalton Rushing an extra $500k to go at pick 47 when he was really taken at pick 40
- The player had to receive a minimum of the signing bonus they signed for in the 2022 draft
- Draft rules had to apply so with pick 1, 7th overall, that player was believed to be eligible for a minimum signing bonus of 75% of slot.
- And let’s have some fun with this, so just taking all the same players the Cubs made is pretty disingenuous.
Let’s get to the picks.
Round 1: Zach Neto, SS, Campbell University (Los Angeles Angels)
Signing bonus: $4,300,000
If you’ve been reading my 2022 MLB Draft content, this selection may not come as too much of a surprise as I’ve been high on Neto for awhile now. From Mock Draft 3.0, “Anyone doubting Zach Neto should take a look at his excellent production (in college and on the Cape in limited sample), batted ball data, defensive projection, and his makeup. He checks a number of boxes on all those fronts. For this reason he’s the selection in this mock, though I don’t believe the Cubs are locked into any players entering Sunday. The relative slot savings from this selection would allow the Cubs to aggressively add surrounding talent in subsequent rounds. Though he may come as an underslot, Neto is well worth the selection independently.” Neto did come in underslot, receiving a bonus of approximately 80% of slot where he was taken at pick 13 by Los Angeles. Since he signed, all Neto has done is make his way up to AA where he’s slashing .321/.365/.509 (.385 wOBA) in limited time. We’ll have to see how he looks over a full season in 2023. According to the rules of our shadow draft he was eligible for a minimum of 75% of the Cubs slot of $5,711,000. North Side Bound selected Zach Neto with our first selection and he signed for a similar percentage underslot.
Other players considered: Brooks Lee, Kevin Parada, Gavin Cross, Cam Collier
Round 2: Jacob Misiorowski, RHP, Crowder College (Milwaukee Brewers)
Signing bonus: $2,350,000
Misiorowski is an ultra-upside pitcher I was hoping might be an overslot option at pick 47 (originally when I was thinking bat at 1.7). In this shadow draft we can make both happen. According to Prospects Live’s Joe Doyle, Industry consensus already labels him as a Top 100 prospect. He’s a large, projectable pitcher with a huge fastball/slider combination, that presents an opportunity for the pitching development team to build out his repertoire.
Baseball America: “He’s pitched heavily off a mid-90s fastball that sits 94-96 and has been up into the 100-101 mph range at peak, with impressive spin and carry. He gets a tremendous amount of swing and miss on the pitch at the top of the zone and has used it to overwhelm juco hitters. Misiorowski also throws a hard, mid-80s slider that has gotten up to 90-91 mph, with impressive sweep and hard break when he snaps off a good one. The pitch flashes plus and has improved in power throughout the spring. Misiorowski gets good extension off the mound and has a lower release height, which should allow his stuff to play up even more. He’ll need to continue improving his command within the zone and develop a third pitch to profile as a starter, but he has back-of-the-bullpen upside and stuff.”
Round 3: Silas Ardoin, C, Texas (Baltimore Orioles)
Signing bonus: $571,400
I’m a huge believer in Silas Ardoin. He showed off great contact (~90%) and hard hit rates (~50%) while showing off fantastic defense and is lauded for incredible makeup. He’s a future starting MLB catcher in my opinion and that’s just incredibly valuable.
Prospects Live: Ardoin, a 36th round selection by the Rockies in 2019, has one of the better throwing arms in the Big 12 and has a tantalizing bat that has evaluators intrigued. Ardoin is an extremely patient hitter who really does a nice job staying inside the zone and using the whole field. He limits his strikeouts and draws a ton of walks with his approach. Ardoin probably won’t ever hit for a ton of power, but he does have remarkable barrel consistency, even if the raw juice isn’t in the tank. His skillset of a mature hitter and a catch-and-throw defender is sure to translate to the next level.
Round 4: Nazier Mule, RHP/SS(?), Passaic County Technical Institute (Chicago Cubs)
Signing bonus: $1,000,000
We won’t spend too much time diving into Mule. The goal of this exercise was to largely stay away from players the Cubs selections, but come on, this pick is too much fun. Mule is a dynamic talent and I’m excited to see what he does in the Cubs system.
Round 5: Jackson Humphries, LHP, Fuquay-Varina HS (Cleveland Guardians)
Signing bonus: $600,000
Speaking of overslots, Jackson Humphries had day 1 buzz heading into spring before falling a bit more to the pack, but this is still a prep lefthander who showed four pitches with two (slider and curveball) that flashed plus. He had a huge breakout at February’s Super 60 showcase, but the stuff backed up a bit. The largest questions revolve around his ability to maintain stuff as a starter. After discussing Humphries as a potential $1 million overslot option in the NSB dueling ten-round mocks, this pick is incredible value right here.
MLB Pipeline: At the Super 60, Humphries worked at 93-95 mph with arm-side run on his fastball and generated high spin rates on a low-80s slider and an upper-70s curveball. This spring, he has sat at 90-93 mph with his heater on his best days and had trouble landing his breaking pitches for strikes. He also has a low-80s changeup with fade that has the potential to become a solid offering.
Round 6: Javier Santos Tejada, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy (Cleveland Guardians)
Signing bonus: $125,000
Javier Santos is one of my favorte arms in the class. On a good day you see the fastball and think “this is Daniel Espino”. That feels farfetched, but the two players even attended the same Academy (Georgia Premier). Clearly teams didn’t think he’s the second coming of Espino, but the ceiling is incredibly high. His fastball will show upper-tier metrics and he needs to refine the breaking balls. If I’m drafting for the Cubs I’m taking that chance all day.
Round 7: Caleb Ricketts, C, San Diego, (Philadelphia Phillies)
Signing bonus: $218,000
Don’t let the last name scare you, Cubs fans, Caleb Ricketts is a fantastic prospect at this stage of the draft. Like the rest of the college bat prospects in this shadow draft, Ricketts shows good contact and the ability to hit the ball hard. His play at catcher is mixed if you ask scouts, but during game 1 of the NCAA Regionals in Corvallis, the fastest man in college baseball Vanderbilt’s Enrique Bradfield Jr. led off the ninth inning with a walk as the tying run. Everyone in the stadium thought Bradfield would try to steal, but he didn’t. There was at least enough respect for Ricketts’ acumen behind the plate not to test his arm in crunch time.
Round 8: Dylan Rock, OF, Texas A&M (Toronto Blue Jays)
Signing bonus: $50,000
With this draft balancing upside and floor, Dylan Rock became a real option. Rock was a 5th year senior and already 24 years old, but he’s an experienced hitter who walked more than struck out. Rock boasted slightly above average contact and well above-average hard hit data this year (HH%+ of 133, meaning it’s 33% better than the average college hitter)
Round 9: Josh Hatcher, OF, Kennesaw State University (Texas Rangers)
Signing bonus: $5,000
Similar to Dylan Rock, but a shade lighter, Josh Hatcher had average contact and above-average hard-hit percentage (HH%+ of 119). At this stage in the draft, the focus turns to balancing value with bonus pool money and trying to find MLB contributors. Here we take two shots with Rock and Hatcher saving considerable money that can be used for overslot players. If the $5k bonus makes you squeamish with how little that is, I completely understand. Hatcher actually signed with Texas for $1k. I just couldn’t go that low personally.
Round 10: Nicolas Perez, SS/2B, B-You Prospects Academy (LA Dodgers)
Signing bonus: $150,000
This is more of just a fun selection since Perez was one of the top Puerto Rican prospects this year, but seemed to fall under the radar. Even his signing bonus is minimal compared to similar HS middle infield prospects. He looks like he’ll outgrow SS, but that’s not a huge knock against him.
Baseball America: One of the top Puerto Rican prospects in the 2022 class, Perez blew up during Jupiter with one of the best offensive performances of any player at the event. The 6-foot, 175-pound shortstop went 8-for-18 (.444) with one home run, three doubles and four stolen bases. He’s a small infielder who is likely not as tall as his listed 6 feet, but he showed a fluid and consistent righthanded swing with much more thump than you’d expect given his smaller frame. Scouts who have seen Perez as an underclassman have praised his history as a pure hitter and were impressed with the physical gains and additional power he added to his game last fall. He has aggressive swing decisions at times and expands the zone, but also shows a knack for barreling the ball and driving doubles into the gaps. Perez also shows solid actions defensively, with good hands and footwork around the bag, but his arm might be more questionable, and some scouts prefer him at second base long term. Perez is committed to Florida State.
Day 3: Let’s be aggressive
If you’re doing the math as we’ve gone along you may notice that we’ve left ourselves with over a million dollars to play with. We won’t explore every single selection, but in this scenario we use the opportunity to float an aggressive offer to premier high school bats on the board and one bites.
Round 11: Ryan Clifford, OF, Pro5 Academy (Houston Astros
Signing bonus: $1,300,000
Clifford signed with Houston for $1,256,530, but in this scenario, the Cubs can offer him more and he’s sold on the organization’s commitment to hitting development and performance science. Clifford’s hitting metrics like average exit velocity and his whiff/chase rate combined data compares favorably with first round players like Jett Williams and Druw Jones. Just watch that swing. It’s a beauty.
MLB Pipeline: With a picturesque left-handed swing and a good bat path, Clifford is equipped to hit for average and power. He has an advanced approach at the plate, focusing on driving balls from gap to gap while rarely chasing pitches out of the strike zone. With his bat speed and the strength in his 6-foot-3 frame, he could provide 20 or more homers per year once he starts driving the ball in the air more regularly.
All told this meant we selected players from the following areas:
- 5 NCAA
- 5 High school
- 1 Junior college
And the player breakdown was:
- 1 college SS
- 1 college pitcher (JC)
- 2 college catchers
- 2 college OF
- 3 HS pitchers (2 RHP, 1 LHP)
- 1 HS SS
- 1 HS OF
What do we think everyone? The final total leaves just over $80k left needed for Luis Rujano just like the Cubs 2022 draft. I went bat-heavy rather than pitcher heavy to provide a nice contrast with the Cubs actual strategy. You can’t deny the weird benefit of hindsight of seeing the whole draft to cherry pick the selections while also contrasting the difficulty in making the selections when only a handful of players have logged meaningful time. This is meant as just a fun thought exercise.