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. Thank you for all your incredible questions.

Mock Draft Preview

I’m looking forward to debuting my first Mock Draft soon so this will serve as a preview. This class has been so fun to follow the past few months and while fans wished the Cubs would have landed a Top 6 pick in the Draft Lottery, 13th is still a very fun place to find intriguing talents. I want to highlight two players up top that are in the running for my Mock Draft 1.0 Cubs selections.

First, Bryce Eldridge, 1B/RHP out of James Madison HS in VA. If that high school sounds familiar it’s not just because it’s the 4th president of the United States. It’s the Alma Mater of James Triantos. Eldridge was a sophomore in 2021 when he teamed with Triantos and the rest of the Madison squad to win state. There may not be a player in the entire draft like Bryce Eldridge. Having dug into him I’m still not sure if he’s better as a hitter or a pitcher. I lean pitcher since his stuff and projectability suggests he has frontline upside, but then he does things like this (see below tweet) and I question if he isn’t better as a hitter. I’m not the only one, chatter is that organizations aren’t sure either. This spring I’ll be diving headlong into Bryce Eldridge.

Similarly I love the potential of high school shortstop Arjun Nimmala. There is something about Nimmala where every time I watch him I become more fascinated with the profile. He has good actions in the infield and a projectable frame that suggests he can get bigger. Naturally that comes with questions about how the 17-year-old will project when he’s 23/24 years old, but starting out at SS give him plenty of opportunities to provide defensive value even if he’s a 3B. I also buy the bat and watching him in showcases only intrigues me more. I’m buying in in Nimmala.

Infield Targets

I touched on Nimmala earlier, but let’s discuss the college route. I am a huge fan of TCU third baseman Brayden Taylor. He combines a lot of what I look for in a hitting prospect. It’s not easy to find a player who hits for both contact (above-average contact-rate over 85%), doesn’t chase the ball out of the zone (chase rate less than 15%), and hits the ball hard (above-average hard hit % and barrel%). He handles velocity and breaking pitches. He’s shown power in wood bat leagues and is an extremely patient hitter. You add all those skills in with a player who should play on the dirt and it’s an upper-level talent.

Continuing the trend of college shortstop the Cubs should cue in on this spring, Maryland’s Matt Shaw is one of my favorites. Like Taylor, Shaw combines contact (slightly above average at 79%) with the ability to hit the ball hard (40% hard hit rate; 11% barrel rate). The more I ask around about him, the more positive feedback I receive. He’s a guy that I think is taken right around where the Cubs select.

Position Preference

Catcher and SS/3B would be great positions to tackle, especially if they were quick-moving college players. Unfortunately college catching corps don’t look as strong this season as last year. We also know the Cubs highly value the “soft-skills” at the catching position. My guess is that a college infielder at SS that has a chance to stay there or move to 3B would be a position that if all things were equal, would make sense to add to this farm system. You should never draft for need with an upper-tier draft pick, but if he strength of the draft matches up with internal rankings? Well, that’s just a win-win. I think this is a draft that looks like it could work out to the Cubs strengths.

Noble Myers and His Evil Slider

Noble Meyer has some hellacious movement in his arsenal. Effectively nothing he throws is straight with even his fastball featuring heavy arm-side run (moves into righties). That fastball movement will be something to watch this spring. The extra-arm side run adds horizontal movement and based on his arm action can add whiffs, but if his vertical movement isn’t up to snuff teams may feel he’s too risky to take high. So far he’s been able to get ride on his fastball (good low vertical movement meaning the pitch looks like it’s riding up in the zone). Teams want a strong fastball early in the draft and there may be some division in evaluating Meyer. But you asked about the slider and yes it’s a banger. It features strong sweeping action.

Nobel Meyer is a stud. He’s not at the same level of Dylan Lesko, but fellow Oregonian (and Jesuit High School alumnus!) Mick Abel offers a solid comp range. Abel was the top prep high school righty in 2020 and went 15th overall to Philadelphia

Thanks for the questions!

As the spring college seasons get rolling soon we’ll have more clarity on players. I’ll have my rankings out this winter, but please keep sending more questions and posts about the draft. I take one more question in Part 2.