Chicago Cubs 2014 Draft Picks: Scouting Profiles and Analysis
As the rebuilding efforts continue in Chicago, the Cubs headed into MLB's First-Year Player Draft with two of the first 50 picks, including a top-five selection for the second year in a row.
The team's recent trend of taking position players continued with its first selection, adding Indiana University's Kyle Schwarber (C/1B) with the fourth overall pick. The team took third baseman Kris Bryant in 2013, outfielder Albert Almora in 2012 and shortstop Javier Baez in 2011.
By the time the 2014 draft came to an end, the Cubs had selected 14 high school players, five junior-college players and 21 players from four-year schools. Of the team's 40 selections, 21 were pitchers.
Read on for more detailed analysis of those who have been given the chance to join the Chicago Cubs organization.
Round 1, Pick 4 : C/1B Kyle Schwarber, Indiana University
While Indiana's Kyle Schwarber would have more value to the Cubs as a catcher, his chances of sticking behind the plate aren't great, with a shift to first base or left field likely in his future.
The good news is that Schwarber, a powerful, left-handed hitter, has a bat that profiles at either position, as Baseball America (subscription required) noted in its profile of him:
He’s a smart hitter who studies pitchers and has tremendous strength to punish pitches to all fields. He’s thick and could be quicker on pitches inside with a trimmer physique. He’s a better athlete than he looks and is even a fringy runner with the aggressiveness to have stolen eight bases this spring, second on Indiana’s team. His athleticism gives him a chance to shift to left field if catching doesn’t work out.
Ranked as the No. 18 prospect in the draft by B/R's Mike Rosenbaum and Baseball America, Schwarber's bat could potentially move him quickly through Chicago's minor-league system, though how quickly he picks up a new position will play a major role.
So, considering that he wasn't considered a Top 10 prospect, did the Cubs reach for Schwarber here?
Perhaps, but it should be noted that during MLB Network's live broadcast of the draft, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo said that some scouts told him that Schwarber was the best bat available in the draft. According to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, the Cubs felt the same way.
Additionally, he's likely to sign for less-than slot value, which would free up some money for the Cubs to use later in the draft.
Regardless, a future outfield combination of Schwarber, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler is something that Cubs fans should be very excited about.
Notable Cubs first round selections: Josh Donaldson (2007), Rafael Palmeiro (1985) and Mark Prior (2001)
Round 2, Pick 45: RHP Jake Stinnett, University of Maryland
The savings that the Cubs figure to get from their first-round selection of Kyle Schwarber don't come into play with the team's second-round pick, Maryland senior Jake Stinnett, ranked No. 67 by Baseball America.
A position player who found his greatest success on the mound, first as a reliever and then as a starter, Stinnett brings a solid mid-90s fastball and a high-70s/low-80s slider with good depth that gets batters from both sides of the plate to swing-and-miss routinely.
While he has a pitcher's frame (6'4", 215 pounds), Stinnett's lack of a quality third pitch and shaky command (though he doesn't walk a ton of batters) likely means his future as a professional is as a power reliever, perhaps back in the closer's role.
Notable Cubs second round selections: Larry Gura (1969), Greg Maddux (1984) and Lee Smith (1975)
Round 3, Pick 78: C Mark Zagunis, Virginia Tech University
While Chicago's first round pick, Kyle Schwarber, isn't likely to stick behind the plate, the team's third round selection, Mark Zagunis, is, though he's far from a finished product.
Ranked No. 111 by Baseball America, it wasn't until this season that Zagunis took over as Virginia Tech's full-time catcher, and his blocking and receiving skills need work.
A former high school quarterback, Zagunis has a strong, accurate throwing arm, but he's not been able to stop the opposition from running, throwing out less than 20 percent of would-be basestealers over his college career.
Zagunis is a line-drive hitter with a patient approach at the plate, which should allow him to hit for average moving forward, though whether his power will develop remains to be seen.
Should his skills behind the plate not develop as the Cubs hope, he's athletic enough (and has enough speed) to make the switch to a corner outfield spot.
Notable Cubs third round selections: Scott Downs (1997), Dennis Lamp (1971) and Rick Reuschel (1970)
Round 4, Pick 109: LHP Carson Sands, North Florida Christian HS
Chicago finally took a pitcher with their fourth round pick, and the money that we believe they've saved on their first three selections could come into play here.
Carson Sands, ranked as the No. 53 prospect in the draft by Baseball America, could have been a Day 1 selection, Jonathan Mayo remarked on MLB.com's live broadcast of Day 2, but notes that he fell due to signability concerns (he's committed to Florida State).
Per BA (subscription required):
Sands, who has a quick arm, has also reduced the effort in his delivery, quieting a head whack, and throwing more strikes. His delivery offers deception, downhill plane and at least average glove-side run to his fastball. Sands’ breaking ball has improved significantly, and has at least average potential, flashing above-average. Scouts also like the way he throws his breaking ball for strikes. The Florida State commit showed better feel for his changeup last summer, and the offering has at least average potential. The lean, 6-foot-2, 205-pound Sands has a good pitcher’s build with room to get stronger.
Sands will take some time to fully develop, and the Cubs will likely have to go above slot value to get him to pass on his college commitment, but he could become a solid mid-rotation arm for the Cubs down the line.
Notable Cubs fourth round selections: Darwin Barney (2007), Ken Holtzman (1965) and Ricky Nolasco (2001)
Round 5, Pick 139: LHP Justin Steele, George County (MS) HS
Ranked No. 121 on Baseball America's Top 500 draft prospects list, Mississippi high school southpaw Justin Steele is a bit undersized, standing only 6'1".
But many, including MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, as he remarked during the website's live broadcast of the draft, believe that Steele has a chance to stick in the starting rotation,
His fastball sits in the low-90s and has some life when Steele doesn't overthrow it, and both his curveball and changeup, which has some late movement, project to be at least average offerings down the road.
Notable Cubs fifth round selections: Joe Girardi (1986) and Jeff Samardzija (2006)
At this point in the draft, most of the most highly-touted and refined players have come off of the board, leaving us with more long-term projects than big-time prospects.
In an effort to keep you from having to click through 30-plus slides by the time the draft concludes, we'll switch from individual profiles of each pick to grouping some of them together on one slide.
That said, we'll still take a deeper look at any noteworthy players the Cubs select.
Round 6, Pick 169: RHP Dylan Cease, Milton (Ga.) HS
A preseason first team All-American, ranked No. 77 by Baseball America, Cease fell due to an elbow injury and a strong college commitment to Vanderbilt University, which has become a factory for producing quality major league arms (Sonny Gray, Mike Minor and David Price being some of the more recent Commodores to find success in the big leagues). The Cubs may have to go significantly over slot to get Cease signed.
Notable Cubs sixth round picks: Sean Marshall (2003) and Jamie Moyer (1984)
Round 7, Pick 199: RHP James Norwood, Saint Louis University
Ranked No. 79 by Baseball America, Norwood has a plus mid-90s fastball but lacks the secondary stuff and arm strength to determine if his future lies in the rotation as a No. 3/No. 4 starter or out of the bullpen.
Notable Cubs seventh round picks: Steve Clevenger (2006) and Matt Franco (1987)
Round 8, Pick 229: LHP Tommy Thorpe, University of Oregon
Not ranked by Baseball America, Thorpe's best pitch is a mid-80s changeup, MLB.com's Jim Callis noted on the website's draft broadcast. Has a chance to develop into a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Notable Cubs eighth round picks: Mike Krukow (1973), Steve Trachsel (1991) and Dontrelle Willis (2000)
Round 9, Pick 259: RHP James Farris, University of Arizona
Another unranked college pitcher, Farris was originally a 15th round selection by Houston in the 2013 draft but did not sign. A senior, he throws strikes and has shown the ability to keep batters off-balance.
Notable Cubs ninth round picks: Craig Lefferts (1980), Jon Lieber (1991) and Kevin Tapani (1985)
Round 10, Pick 289: RHP Ryan Williams, East Carolina University
Chicago's third consecutive unranked college senior, Ryan Williams is yet another potential back-end starter who could prove to be nothing more than organizational depth.
Notable Cubs 10th round picks: Sam Fuld (2004) and Casey McGehee (2003)
Round 11, Pick 319: RHP Jordan Brink, Fresno State University
BA Rank 164; Converted OF showed first-day talent when on, undersized (5'11"), could wind up in bullpen
Round 12, Pick 349: RHP Tanner Griggs, Angelina College (TX)
BA Rank 425; Has a four-pitch mix and could stick in rotation, committed to Texas A&M Corpus-Christi
Round 13, Pick 379: 3B Kevonte Mitchell, Kennett (MO) HS
Round 14, Pick 409: 2B Chesny Young, Mercer University (GA)
Round 15, Pick 439: RHP Jeremy Null, Western Carolina University (NC)
BA Rank 441: Tall (6'8"), athletic strike-thrower with solid delivery, likely headed to the bullpen
Round 16, Pick 469: SS Jason Vosler, Northeastern University
Round 17, Pick 499: RHP Michael Knighton, Central Alabama CC
Round 18, Pick 529: RHP Austyn Willis, Barstow (CA) HS
Round 19, Pick 559: RHP Brad Markey, Virginia Tech University
Round 20, Pick 589: SS John Tomasovich, Charleston Southern University (SC)
Round 21, Pick 619: OF Charles White, University of Maryland
Round 22, Pick 649: 3B Joey Martarano, Boise State University
Round 23, Pick 679: OF Isiah Gilliam, Parkview (GA) HS
BA Rank 151: Only recently became draft-eligible, switch-hitter has drawn comparisons to Bobby Bonilla
Round 24, Pick 709: CF Daniel Spingola, Georgia Tech University
Round 25, Pick 739: C Tyler Pearson, Texas State University
Round 26, Pick 769: RHP Zach Hedges, Azusa Pacific University (CA)
Round 27, Pick 799: CF Calvin Graves, Franklin Pierce University
Round 28, Pick 829: RHP Jacob Niggemeyer, Olentangy Liberty HS (OH)
Round 29, Pick 859: RHP Gianni Zayas, Seminole State College (FL)
Round 30, Pick 889: C Michael Cantu, Foy H. Moody HS (TX)
BA Rank 161: Has exciting raw power that doesn't always translate to at-bats, committed to Texas
Round 31, Pick 919: RHP Brad Deppermann, East Lake HS (FL)
BA Rank 192: Undersized (6'0") strike-thrower with multiple breaking balls and a low-to-mid 90s fastball
Round 32, Pick 949: 2B Andrew Ely, University of Washington
Round 33, Pick 979: RHP Brad Bass, Lincoln-Way Central HS (IL)
N/R: Projectable, was a possible top-three-round pick in preseason, funky delivery, Notre Dame commit
Round 34, Pick 1,009: RHP Steven Kane, Cypress College (CA)
Round 35, Pick 1,039: LHP Jordan Minch, Perdue University
Round 36, Pick 1,069: OF D.J. Peters, Glendora HS (CA)
BA Rank 196; Big (6'5") with even bigger raw power, hit tool needs work, committed to Cal State Fullerton
Round 37, Pick 1,099: C Riley Adams, Canyon Crest Academy (CA)
Round 38, Pick 1,129: C Daniel Wasinger, Eastlake HS (TX)
Round 39, Pick 1,159: C David Petrino, Central Arizona College
Round 40, Pick 1,189: CF Diamond Johnson, Hillsborough HS (FL)