Even though the draft is still 6 and 1/2 months away, one of the biggest days in North Side Bound’s draft cycle is coming up and that is when Greg Zumach releases his first mock draft. Mr. Zumach is our resident draft expert (who basically called the James Triantos pick in 2021 a few weeks before the draft) and will drop his first Mock of round 1 sometime in the next few weeks. He will discuss and analyze the top pick for every team with an emphasis on who the Cubs will take at #13.
Today, I thought it would be fun to try and predict who Greg is going to take just based on his tweets this year. I’m not going to try and predict every single selection, I’m only going to try and guess who he thinks should be the number one pick and who he thinks the Cubs are going to take at 13. Those are two very different animals. There’s a lot of different thoughts and analysis that goes into each selection as well as a lot of different sources that Greg relies upon. I am excited to see who he picks so let’s try and guess who is going where.
If it were me, and it’s not, I would go with Max Clark for my own first. Most publications have LSU outfielder Dylan Crews at number one and he will probably be on most major publications all year. Crews has a high floor and a high ceiling as he has demonstrated power each of his two years playing for the Tigers. However, he does not have the highest ceiling in the draft
That honor probably belongs to outfielder Max Clark, a 6-foot-1 lefty hitting outfield beast from Franklin, Indiana and that’s who Mr. Zumach is going to take.
Why do I think that?
The upside for Clark is huge, like Bryce Harper huge. Even though Clark is well built now, the possibility to add to his frame is there. MLB Pipeline stated that Clark’s hit tool is a double-plus along with his speed. That is just a superfluous amount of talent in one body for Mr. Zumach to turn down.
Who will Zumach Take for the Cubs?
When Greg sits down to write his mock draft here over the next couple weeks, there are a ton of guys that are in play at the spot. The fact that we are closer to the last draft than we are to the next draft makes me wonder if Zumach is going to lean towards a pitcher, a hitter, or possibly a two-way guy?
One guy who could be sitting at 13 is Wake Forest’s righty Rhett Lowder who already has a plus changeup, which is something that Greg focuses on. Greg also is honed in on guys who throw sliders as well. For Lowder, he should be there at 13.
As for me, I love Tanner Witt of Texas! There is a small problem for Zumach as he would be extremely hesitant to even consider Tanner who is coming off of Tommy John surgery. Witt is very reminiscent of a young kid out of Texas that the Cubs took in the late 1990s. Still, Witt has a lot to prove this spring before he moves into the top half of the first round. He could be a fast riser if he comes back healthy and flashes his plus-plus curve early and often.
There is also the fact that the Cubs have taken starting pitchers the last two years and that might move the needle to a bat.
There are plenty of guys here who’ll fit Zumach‘s choice. There is SS Jacob Wilson out of Grand Canyon, who has a little bit more pop than his father Jack. There’s Sam Shaw out of Maryland, who is also a shortstop, and 3B Brock Wilken, who is a power hitting third baseman from Wake Forest, is another choice. Meanwhile, TCU infielder Brayden Taylor could be a name that Greg likes at the spot a lot. However, most of the aforementioned prospects should end up in the top 10 very easily and may not be around for Zumach to take for the Cubs.
There are a couple prep bats that are in play here. Catcher Blake Mitchell is a plus defender already and shows a lot of pop in his bat. It would be hard to take a prep catcher at 13 as the position does take a while to develop. However, infielder Kevin McGonigle will not. The prepster from Pennsylvania already has a penchant for driving the ball at a young age.
Then There’s the Two-Way Guy.
This player that I am about to mention is who Greg Zumach will probably take for the Cubs in his first mock draft for 2023. Then again, just because I put him down here, Zumach may not take them just to spite me. But just based on the verbs that Greg has used the last couple weeks, Bryce Eldridge is that guy.
Zumach has an affinity for players from this region scouted by Cubs legend Billy Swope. It was two years ago that Swope singled out James Triantos. And one player that played with Triantos on that state championship team was Eldridge. He’s a big kid at 6-foot-7 and 219 pounds and he’s pretty polished right now. In terms of hitting over pitching, most scouts tend to see him as a top of the rotation pitcher. But the dude can hit as well.
What I like about Eldridge is that this kid has gone out and competed at the highest levels of high school baseball, including being a member of USA Baseball last summer, where he was one of the stars of the team.
As a result, that’s who Greg Zumach should take in his first Mock draft for the Cubs. While the two-way thing is interesting, Zumach is taking him because he’s an outstanding baseball player not because he plays two ways. The potential for either side is very good and who knows where professional coaching might take him.