MLB teams are headlong into sorting through reports while scouts and crosscheckers pound the table for “their guys”. It’s officially MLB Draft week, which is the time when we can jump into draft content overload.
What better way to start the week than to take a deep dive into board building with a Cubs mock covering every single selection the team has in the entire draft? We’re going 20 rounds deep.
This mock is mostly what I believe the Cubs could do and not how I would make the selection. There are players that I have heard connected to the organization who are included in Day 2 and 3 selections below. But also make sure to check out additional names that could be candidates for the picks.
Let’s talk strategy
I cast a wide net for players that might appeal to the Cubs based on traits they’ve previously targeted.
If you aren’t familiar with the MLB Draft make sure to check out our Chicago Cubs Draft Primer.
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 June 28th.
First round (13) – Colin Houck – SS – Parkview (HS), GA
13th pick slot value: $4,848,500
Projected bonus value: $4,848,500
How the Cubs draft: we saw the Cubs prioritize players who the organization viewed as falling to them in Howard and Wicks, but it was clear that unless something really crazy happened last year they were very into the profile of Horton. This is an organization that has been willing to target upside with their top few selections the past few years.
Colin Houck was a two sport star whose future has him destined for baseball. Despite Houck’s quarterbacking excellence, he only pursued baseball in college. Scouts are flocking to Georgia in droves. and he’s expected to be drafted in the first round. Houck has shown agility at SS and while he may move to 3B down the line, Houck both (a) deserves the chance to try it out as SS in pro ball and (b) has the arm to handle 3B. I like his chances of being a shortstop at the next level.
Other names to consider: Aidan Miller, Chase Dollander, Noble Meyer, Brayden Taylor, Colt Emerson, Kevin McGonigle. Arjun Nimmala
68 – Brock Vradenburg – 1B – Michigan State
“BV” is a huge, imposing player. He stands 6’7” and looks even bigger when he meets the pitcher on the mound. For such a huge profile, one would think that he swings and misses, but his ability to control the zone impressed me. He had a very good B1G tournament with a .455/.571/.545 slash line. He struck out once in 13 plate appearances. Vradenburg was an agile runner for his size and looked average at first base. Vradenburg is the ultimate throwback. He’ll launch to his pull side and shoot the ball the other way down the line. He’s not getting enough love in publications, but I hope changes come July. This. This is the profile of a player that succeeds. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him in a few seasons knocking on the door to the big leagues led by a patient approach, good contact, and developing power.
Selecting Brock Vradenburg raises the floor of the Cubs draft significantly, which would be important if they target prep players like Houck, Nimmala, Meyer, Miller, Emerson, or McGonigle with their first selection.
81 – Brandon Winokur – OF – Porter (HS), TX
81st pick slot value: $872,400
Projected bonus value: $1,200,000
Winokur had a huge showing at the MLB Draft combine, but he was known well before that event. It’s a toolsy package that looks like it’s all coalescing. The UCLA commit, Winokur, will require a significant bonus to buy him our of college.
Watch out for prep RHP Cameron Tilly or college LHP Sean Sullivan here as well.
113 – Adam Hachman – LHP – Timberland (HS), MO
113th pick slot value: $591,800
Projected bonus value: $1,200,000
Hachman was an emerging name earlier in the year until it was reported that he would need Tommy John surgery. It’s still a high ceiling arm and one that merits team strongly consider. We’ve seen the Cubs zero in on premier left-handed pitchers in the draft classes. Hachman absolutely fits that criteria.
Watch out for prep LHPs Zane Adams and Paul Wilson early on day 2.
149 – Tommy Hawke – CF – Wake Forest
149th pick slot value: $416,900
Projected bonus value: $416,900
Tommy Hawke is just a grinder, folks. And that feels like it doesn’t do him justice. He’s an excellent centerfielder and at the plate he shows excellent plate discipline. Hawke doesn’t chase pitches out of the zone and makes contact. The biggest question is surrounding his ability to make hard contact. He shows flashes and I’d take the bet on the profile at this stage in the draft.
Watch out for Carson Roccaforte, Tavian Josenberger, Garrett Forester
179 – Cade Denton – RHP – Oral Roberts
179th pick slot value: $325,600
Projected bonus value: $250,000
Cade Denton is a pure reliever, but at this stage of the draft, structuring your picks to bring in MLB contributors at affordable bonuses works well. Seeing Denton in person, it was pro-level stuff.
Watch out for Craig Yoho and Emmett Olson
209 – Julian Brock – C – Louisiana-Lafayette
209th pick slot value: $90,000
Projected bonus value: $350,000
The Cubs value soft-skills when it comes to catchers and Brock reportedly has those along with an intriguing bat. This would still be a money-saving selection to use earlier in the class for high upside prep players.
Other catchers to consider: Cooper Ingle
239 – Sebastian Gongora- LHP – Wright State
239th pick slot value: $203,600
Projected bonus value: $150,000
Gongora has a metrically appealing fastball, but his curveball and changeup lag behind. I believe he’s a prime candidate to address those, giving the Cubs a strong pro rotation caliber pitcher.
269 – Brett Wichrowski- RHP – Bryant
269th pick slot value: $179,400
Projected bonus value: $150,000
Wichrowski had a solid year for Bryant Baseball, but he’s succeeding on the Cape showcasing some swing and miss. The slider, in particular displays sweep and could play up in the bullpen.
299 – Josh Sanders – RHP – Texas Tech
299th pick slot value: $168,300
Projected bonus value: $150,000
Josh Sanders looked good at the Big 12 Tournament and quietly had some moments this season. He’s a later round pitcher who could pop in a pro development system, which will be a common thread amongst many of the pitchers in the 6-20 round area. 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 or two 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”. The following players are not listed in what order (Round 11, 12, 13…) they would be drafted.
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.
Rounds 11-20 – Matt Evans – OF – Great Lakes Canadians (HS)
Our $300k bullet!
Evans may not be a household name, but he is incredibly intriguing. The Husker commit is a toolsy player who displays explosiveness in-game. I can’t speak to the defense, but others note that he looks strong in centerfield. Would $300k buy him out form going to Nebraska? Hard to say, but it’s plausible.
Rounds 11-20 – Gabe Starks – RHP – University of Texas-Arlington
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.
Rounds 11-20 – Grant Rogers – RHP – McNeese
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.
Rounds 11-20 – William Sullivan – 1B – Troy
Sullivan was a proliffic hitter for Troy this year, ranking high in power-derived wOBA (sourced from analysts) and in BaGS. There is work to be done offensively, but it’s a late round swing on a powerful bat.
Rounds 11-20 – Chris Kean – RHP – Louisiana Monroe
Kean showed impressive stuff in a very brief set of appearances during the season before being felled by an injury. These are the type of gambles the Cubs have taken chances on during the Day 3 portion of the draft. The upside is a medium or higher leverage reliever once healthy.
Rounds 11-20 – Olin Johnson – RHP –
I have no idea about the signability of any player in this mock, so don’t read into this at all, but expect the Cubs to take at least one player who they won’t sign. This would be a hedge if something creeps up above and the Cubs aren’t able to sign an overslot selection earlier in the draft. Johnson is a UNC commit and has been flashing some impressive stuff touching 95-96 and getting good movement on his breaking ball. This selection is similar to Brock Blatter, last year’s 19th round selection who ended up at Alabama.
Rounds 11-20 – Josh Timmerman – RHP – Ohio State
Timmerman’s 2023 numbers aren’t pretty (8.75 ERA, 7.6 BB/9), but he’s been electric on the Cape Cod League generating Ks and limiting walks. The building blocks are there for a pro pitcher who can develop in the pitch lab.
Rounds 11-20 – Patrick Reilly – RHP – Vanderbilt
A strong Day 2 candidate, Reilly could go anywhere from round 5-20 based on his ask and whether teams want to see him as a starter. At the very least I’d put him in a piggyback role similar to Riley Martin among others.
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?