It’s officially June and time for a brand new Cubs-specific mock draft. This time we’re diving twelve picks deep. The goal of this mock will be to outline the entire 10 round bonus pool selections and identify two later (rounds 11-20) players to watch.
Make sure to check out Todd Johnson’s 10-round mock also debuting today.
Let’s talk strategy
This is a mock draft in early June and there’s a good chance it ends up as complete fantasy come July. But I wanted this to feel grounded in reality. So I continued it from my Collaborative mock draft with Willie Hood. You can find the write-ups for both my first two picks at the links below.
After the second pick, I cast a wide net for players that might appeal to the Cubs based on traits they’ve previously targeted.
While I discuss signing bonus figures, I want to be clear that this is what I personally would guess that player could be seeking. I have no inside information from team or player/advisor sources about the signability of any single player mentioned below.
For a timestamp on this I finalized my player decisions on May 28th.
First round (13) – Arjun Nimmala- SS – Strawberry Crest (HS), FL
13th pick slot value: $4,848,500
Projected bonus value: $4,848,500
68 – Sean Sullivan – LHP – Wake Forest
68th pick slot value: $1,101,000
Projected bonus value: $810,050
81 – Zane Adams – LHP – Porter (HS), TX
81st pick slot value: $872,400
Projected bonus value: $1,200,000
I’m digging Zane Adams this season. He throws from an over-the-top delivery and will flash some impressive offspeed offerings with the curveball and changeup. Adams is an Alabama signee and traditionally those commits are difficult signings, but added into the complexity here is that Alabama is in the midst of a head coaching turnover. Could that make commits like Adams more likely to consider professional offers? It’s hard to say, but something that teams explore these scenarios every year. Regardless, Zane Adams is the type of arm that I’d take a chance on developing in pro ball.
113 – Trenton Lyons – C/SS – Christian Brothers (HS), TN
113th pick slot value: $591,800
Projected bonus value: $1,000,000
I haven’t heard as much chatter about Trenton Lyons as other prep players projected for the early day 2 rounds, and I’m not sure why. Lyons looks capable of playing SS, 3B, or C, is switch-hitter with feel from both sides of the plate, is committed to an SEC school, and appears projectable for physical development. In this draft the Cubs are investing in upside and hedging against that risk with safer players. Lyons offers qualities of both. Investing in a high school catcher is a risky proposition, but the selections that appear the best in recent memory are those where the profile is led by athleticism and a bat that can succeed at other positions. Lyons has those attributes.
149 – Tavian Josenberger – CF – Arkansas
149th pick slot value: $416,900
Projected bonus value: $416,900
It’s fortunate that Mason McRae provided an exceptional data dive that featured Josenberger so I can reference more data in this section. Josenberger looks like he can play CF in the pros and features good batted ball data with a” barrel rate above 20%… and pretty average EVs [exit velocity readings] across the board” per McRae. It should be noted that McRae had Josenberger as a 7-8th rounder so perhaps I’m higher on him. The player that McRae noted immediately after is similar in Carson Roccaforte and could fit around this range as well.
179 – Craig Yoho – RHP – Indiana
179th pick slot value: $325,600
Projected bonus value: $250,000
Upside play here. Yoho missed the last two seasons due to injury including Tommy John, but he’s shown some impressive stuff in relief. This is a player development opportunity with late-inning potential in the profile.
209 – Cooper Ingle – C – Clemson
209th pick slot value: $254,500
Projected bonus value: $350,000
There’s a decent bet that an ACC-tested bat at a position of professional need like catcher isn’t available at this stage of the draft. I was particularly a fan of San Diego’s Caleb Ricketts last summer and while he didn’t play in the ACC, he processed many of same qualities that Ingle has. He went in the 7th round to the Phillies. Ingle is a dependable backstop and shows a little pop. More may be in there but this looks like an MLB second catcher or better. I’m paying up for the potential here and sending Ingle late 5th round money.
239 – Grant Rogers – RHP – McNeese
239th pick slot value: $203,600
Projected bonus value: $203,600
Standing 6’8″, Grant Rogers out of McNeese is fascinating. He doesn’t walk batters, he generates ground balls, and there’s probably more velocity in the frame (sits 89-93 mph). It’s a unique arm-angle with a nearly side-arm slot. Weird can work in baseball. I’d give him a real chance to start in professional ball.
269 – Ben Ferrer – RHP – Oregon State
269th pick slot value: $179,400
Projected bonus value: $25,000
Ferrer served as Oregon State’s fireman. He was frequently deployed into crisis situations during games over the past several seasons. And by and large, Ferrer responded. Don’t worry about the 4.80 ERA this season. The peripherals are right in line with his work from 2022 when he logged a 1.72 ERA in the same role. He’ll be nearly 24 years old when the draft begins in July. This would be a classic senior sign where you’re taking a chance on a player with a combination of intangible and tangible qualities that you feel would mesh well with your development system.
299 – Gabe Starks – RHP – University of Texas-Arlington
299th pick slot value: $168,300
Projected bonus value: $155,000
Perhaps this pick is off the wall, but sometimes these late round selections are about chasing one particular quality a player has. In this case it’s fastball movement profile. Gabe Starks has a live arm and throws a true cut-ride fastball. It’s a profile the Cubs succeed with and taking a swing on a pitcher like this makes sense late on Day 2 or on Day 3. Last season the Cubs identified Brody McCullough as a 10th round selection and paid him the exact Round 11-20 selection bonus ($125k at the time) to take him off the board before another team took him to start Day 3. I could envision a similar scenario where the Cubs zero in on a player they would normally take in Rounds 11-20 and pop them a day earlier to make sure they get their player.
This leaves the Cubs with $150,000 in overage money to add to the $150,000 that they have to spend on any pick in the 11-20th round, meaning that they could sign one player for $300,000. The Cubs have employed a similar strategy in 2021 to sign Dominic Hambley and in 2022 to sign Luis Rujano. Both players received around a “$200k bullet” as Cubs VP, Dan Kantrovitz described it. For the purposes of this mock, we’ll say that they fire off a “$300k bullet”.
Rounds 11-20 – Connor Crisp – RHP – Locust Grove (HS), GA
Similar to Mason McGwire, last season, Crisp has a smooth delivery, three-four pitch mix, and a good candidate to continue to add velocity in professional ball. He is one of my favorite targets for the Cubs to take a swing at signing. Crisp is committed to Georgia and I can’t speak to signability, but he is intriguing.
Rounds 11-20 – Luke Napleton – C – Quincy University
In the same vein as Haydn McGeary, the Cubs dive back into DII baseball and take a masher of a player in Luke Napleton. The Quincy backstop had a huge year, setting QU records. He’s now playing the MLB Draft League. A good showing in the Draft League could propel him to likely draft pick.
What would your strategy be?
I mixed upside and safer profiles while trying my best to guess about signability. That can be a fools errand, but it attempts to mirror the complexity that teams face when they build their boards. How would you build your ideal Cubs draft? Is there a player you’d “pound the table” in the draft room for?