With the 56th pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Chicago Cubs selected James Triantos, 3B, Madison HS.
Ivy Futures Report: James Triantos (SS, Madison HS) sported impressive batted-ball data. His contact rate of 94% contact rate topped prep players in the showcase circuit last year with a similar max EV as Will Taylor, Harry Ford, and Colson Montgomery. Traintos has quite an arm and has good run times. He hails from Cubs area scout (and 2020 Stan Zielinski Scout of the Year) Billy Swoope’s territory. I also don’t think it would surprise me to hear the Cubs very interested in Triantos with an early selection. From my latest mock: “If there’s one player who could be this year’s Nick Yorke (who was a surprise mid-first round selection), I’ll say it is James Triantos.”
Triantos reclassified to the 2021 ranks from 2022, where he was one of the better two-way prospects in that class. As a pitcher, he has a solid four pitch mix, primarily led by a FB in the low-90’s and an advanced CB in the high-70’s with great shape. He has a SL and a CH to boot in the low-80’s. Low-effort delivery, as well. As a bat, where most expect him to end up, he has a good feel for the barrel and shows off some sneaky pop for a guy who is 6’0″, 185. Hit 2 bombs at WWBA, including the longest of the tournament at 424 feet.
Originally part of the Class of 2022, Triantos reclassified to join the 2021 Draft class, leading to scouts flocking to Virginia to check him out as he gained traction as a serious pop-up prospect. A two-way standout at James Madison High School, his future as a professional lies in his ability in the batter’s box, and he had so much helium that it looked possible he’d be the first player at Madison to get taken in the first few rounds since Jay Franklin was a first-round pick in 1971.
There are some polarizing opinions about Triantos and his upside, with scouts who like him really believing in the bat. Some see a future plus hitter with a feel for the barrel and good bat speed. There’s some surprising power given he’s not the biggest guy in the world, though he’s very physical. Detractors feel he can get stuck with a predetermined approach from the right side of the plate and can guess wrong.
Even fans of Triantos feel he won’t be a shortstop at the next level. He has the arm for the left side of the infield, with those who dream seeing a little Alex Bregman or fellow Virginia high school product David Wright, albeit a bit less athletic. The University of North Carolina recruit gets high marks for his baseball IQ and work ethic, another reason why he could hear his name called in the top five rounds.
Report: A late addition to my board has been James Triantos, a SS (and RHP) out of Madison HS in Virginia. Triantos (SS, Madison HS) deserves some more publicity. His contact rate of 94% contact rate topped prep players in the showcase circuit last year with a similar max EV as Will Taylor, Harry Ford, and Colson Montgomery. Traintos has quite an arm and has good run times. He hails from Cubs area scout (and 2020 Stan Zielinski Scout of the Year) Billy Swoope’s territory. I also don’t think it would surprise me to hear the Cubs very interested in Triantos with an early selection. From my latest mock: “If there’s one player who could be this year’s Nick Yorke (who was a surprise mid-first round selection), I’ll say it is James Triantos.”
Report: Gray was announced by the Cubs as a pitcher, but on the MLB tracker as an OF. He is likely a LHP at the next level where he’s showcased elite spin metrics on his fastball. As a recent convert to pitching there isn’t a lot of wear and tear on the arm.
Christian Franklin, OF, Arkansas
Report: Franklin will show plus raw power. He has the ability to stick in CF at least early in his career. The bar for an above average CF in the majors is low. If Franklin is drafted by an organization with a strong hitting infrastructure, he could be a stud. However, his biggest risk is the significant swing and miss (28.4 K% for the season). Some scouts see a fourth-OF profile. He’s a dynamic athlete and a fan-favorite for Arkansas.
Liam Spence, SS, Tennessee
Report: A senior sign and a contact bat. Spence is already 23 years old so he should offer some savings since the Cubs have gone aggressive in this draft with impact talent in earlier rounds. Don’t let that discourage you on Spence. He’s a very talented player who had over 50 games in a row of getting on base for Tennessee this past season (fact courtesy of Nathanael Rutherford @Mr_Rutherford on Twitter).
Riley Martin, LHP, Quincy University
Report: The senior signs continue for the Cubs with Martin who carved up Division II hitters to the tune of a 3.55 ERA with 17.39 K/9 (!). On May 7th he threw a 7 inning, 3 hit, 1 run, 4 walk, 19 K outing.
Parker Chavers, OF, Coastal Carolina
Report: Another senior sign, but a high upside selection. Chavers could have gone in the 2020 draft, but clearly indicated a number teams weren’t willing to reach. His 2021, was a small step back in terms of productions, but he represents strong value in his upside.
Casey Opitz, C, Arkansas
Report: The senior signs continue with @PitchingNinja favorite, Casey Opitz. Optiz is believed to be one of the few college catchers to call his own games and he has a strong arm behind the plate. I wouldn’t count on the bat producing big numbers, but he’s a steady and reliable back-up catcher which is immensely valuable to develop.
Chase Watkins, LHP, Oregon State
Report: If you throw left-handed, the Cubs appear to have you on a list. Watkins is a “deep cut” and likely a pure scouting move. He is a 6’4″ lefty who only pitched in relief (4.88 ERA, 38 Ks in 31 innings) sporting an upper 80s/low 90s fastball. His primary secondary appears to be a curveball. The big question is starter vs reliever. His high in innings this season was three.
Peter Matt, OF, Duke
Report: Peter Matt, owner of two first names, stealer of hearts (possibly but I can’t verify) is another senior sign (23 years old) out of Duke. His power exploded this past season easily setting his career high at 15 in 2021.
The second day of the draft built upon the first perfectly. Today had everything, upside high school talent, toolsy players, small school selections, and shocking picks (Christian Franklin). I’ll have a wrap up of Day three of the Draft (likely won’t be live-blogging) and follow me on Twitter @IvyFutures.
With the 21st pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Chicago Cubs selected Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State University. Wildly regarded as the top college lefty, Chicago Cubs VP of Scouting, Dan Kantrovitz said Wicks ranked “within the top 10 of their internal draft board”. Fans of fast-moving players would also be excited to know that the Cubs feel he is an advanced arm. “Next year it’ll be sort of up to him to determine where he’s placed out of spring training. But with a repertoire as advanced as his, he’ll probably have some options.” Kantrovitz said.
Ivy Futures Report: Lefthander who pounds the strike zone. Top college lefty in the class with a low 90s fastball (has a fourseam and 2-seam with 2400 rpm spin) and a plus-plus changeup. There’s solid separation in velocity between the two pitches (~8-10 mph difference) and he “kills spin” by throwing the changeup at less than 1600 rpm. His feel for spin with a breaking ball lags behind with a spin rate close to 2400 rpm. Looks the part of a quick mover in the minors. A team with a good pitch development team should be able to get at least an average breaking ball from Wicks.
Metrically, Wicks stands out for his low-spin changeup and 2400 rpm sinker (a pitch the Cubs prioritize). From a biomechanical standpoint, ProPlayAI gives an incredible breakdown.
Kansas State has never had a first-round pick or a pitcher selected in the top three rounds, but that’s on the verge of changing. Wicks is clearly the top left-hander available in the 2021 Draft and has a longer track record of success than most of this year’s college pitchers. He won the Big 12 Conference freshman of the year award in 2019, allowed one run in four starts during the truncated 2020 season before posting a 0.52 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings between two summer leagues, then set school records for single-season (118) and career (230) strikeouts this spring.
Wicks has the best changeup in the Draft, a low-80s weapon with tumble and depth that he sells with deceptive arm speed, earning plus-plus grades from some evaluators. He sets it up with a fastball that has added about 5 mph since high school, now sitting at 90-93 mph and hitting 95 with high spin rates that give it riding action. He has improved his low-80s slider to the point where it’s now a solid offering, and he also can morph it into a harder cutter and mix in an upper-70s curveball.
Wicks works with little effort, easily repeating his delivery and pounding the strike zone while working both sides of the plate. In addition to his stuff and command, he earns praise for his competitiveness and inventiveness on the mound. One scout likened him to Reid Detmers, the No. 10 overall choice in 2020 by the Angels, with a changeup rather than a curveball as his dominant pitch.
Jordan Wicks may just be the 2021 version of Bryce Jarvis. It might just be the best changeup in the class. Coming from the left side, Wicks has a 3/4 arm slot that pumps 89-92, touching 94. The changeup seems to hit a brick wall in front of the plate, tumbling heavy arm-side. He flashes a cutter-ish slider and curveball that have both shown good spin rates, though still developing consistent shape. There’s a good bit of deception in Wicks’ stuff and guys really struggle to square him up. Most believe he’s the best lefty in the class, and he’s just about as polished as they come. He may not have top of the rotation upside, but with Wicks you’re selecting the floor of a Low-3/High-4 rotation arm that should move quickly to the big leagues. He’s almost certainly going to be a first round pick in July
After some recent draft rumors suggested that popular Cubs draft targets, Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State and Colson Montgomery, SS, Southridge (HS) may not be available when the Cubs pick at 21st overall, it begged the question, “Who would you take?”
Notes: College Hitter Trey Sweeney led the pack here, but all four of the possible draft options had significant support.
Report: Sweeney is a rising prospect who sports top-of-the-line hitting data. Sweeney both hits the ball hard and also does not whiff often (87% contact rate). He is a likely 3B at the next level. Sweeney has a chance for an above-average hit and power tool.
Notes: Gavin Williams and James Triantos paced the way in this vote. Ultimately the upside of a frontline arm like Gavin Williams was too much to pass up.
Report: Williams shows off a top-of-rotation profile on the mound led by a plus fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s. Williams also showcases a dynamic curveball thrown in the upper 70s to low 80s. His slider and changeup add in average third and fourth pitches that scouts feel should each be better with professional instruction. There has been chatter of concern over prior injuries, but a broken finger is hardly a long-term concern after 81+ dominant innings in 2021. His age of 22 may hold some teams back.
Notes: In a poll packed with a mix of high floors and high ceilings, the voters decided to side with the metrically amazing college bat of Aaron Zavala.
Report: Standing just 6’0″, the Oregon rightfielder put on a bit of a show in the NCAA Regionals when he drove a double deep into the damp Oregon night. Zavala has a solid, accurate arm that plays well in right field. Zavala has solid weight transfer and stays balanced through the hitting zone. There could be some improvements in hip rotation to minimize wasted energy (which should be cleaned up with professional), but it’s a short, compact swing. His batting metrics are exceptional.
The Final Selection!
With the 21st selection in the 2021 MLB Draft, you selected (for the Chicago Cubs), Gavin Williams, RHP, out of East Carolina University. As you can see, it was a very close decision with all three possible options garnering significant vote totals.
It’s been a blast to have the opportunity to analyze this Draft class as I’ve started Ivy Futures, and while it’s been successful, I’ve also learned a lot along the way to improve when I start next year’s rankings. Thanks for joining me on this journey.
Here it is, the Final Mock! Yes, there will be decisions that organizations made over the next few hours, but this is the mock I’m riding with as we head into draft day.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates
Henry Davis, C, Louisville
The ultimate choice could be down to which player offers the best deal from among the Davis, Marcelo Mayer, Jordan Lawler, and Jack Leiter quartet. While everyone is going for Marcelo Mayer (and I think that’s a solid choice), I’ll project that Davis offers the best value with the safety and security of being the best college bat.
2. Texas Rangers
Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Rangers appear to be picking amongst Watson, Leiter, Davis, and Mayer. Timeline be damned, Leiter is the most talented player for many (though Mayer is as well). Here the Rangers get the most advanced college arm and one that could make his big league appearance in 2022.
3. Detroit Tigers
Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake (HS)
The Tigers have had tremendous success targeting college talent and their board could skew so that Rocker, Davis, or a college outfielder could interest the organization. I believe the Tigers love Mayer. The young shortstop also offers a future plus hit tool along with a solid average or better defensive grade at a premium position.
4. Boston Red Sox
Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest (HS)
With Leiter and Davis off the board, the Red Sox opt for Kahlil Watson who showcases impressive bat paths. His power is emerging and scouts feel he’s a great bet to hit at the next level. Brady House would make sense here too for many of the same reasons.
5. Baltimore Orioles
Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
Baltimore rocked many 2020 mocks when they took Heston Kjerstad with the 2nd overall pick in a money-saving gambit. Orioles GM, Mike Elias, spent his time in the Astros front office where Houston consistently employed that strategy (most notably in 2012 when they paired up Carlos Correa and used the savings for Lance McCullers). I expect the Orioles to do the same this season and have heard them connected with Cowser and Harry Ford. Cowser offers average or better tools across the board.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks
Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS
I have it down to Jobe or Lawler and I personally think it could go either way based on this mock. According to Kiley McDaniel, the Diamondbacks lean Jobe in that scenario and I haven’t heard otherwise. The Diamondbacks land the top prep pitcher in the class.
7. Kansas City Royals
Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep (HS)
The Royals have had the most success with high school hitters and college arms. The Royals also have shown success taking talented players that “fall” to them in the draft. Rocker, Lawler, House, Watson, all make sense and so could Jackson Jobe. They drafted and developed Bobby Witt Jr. into a budding star. Lawler has a similar profile and upside.
8. Colorado Rockies
Brady House, 3B, Winder-Barrow (HS)
Colorado has been willing to take a high school talent if the option presented itself, but is generally focused on going the college route in the first round. They have been most often associated with college players so far, but Brady House being available could change things for Colorado. This mock has Brady House who sports some hitting metrics related to bat path and max exit velocity that are very impressive.
9. Los Angeles Angels
Will Taylor, OF, Dutch Fork (HS)
The Angels are a wild card and could go in any number of ways. And the Angels have been in see Jackson Jobe (RHP; Heritage Hall, HS), Bubba Chandler (RHP/SS; North Oconee HS), and Frank Mozzicato (LHP; East Catholic HS). The point is that the Angels are very willing to take a prep talent here. I forecast the multisport South Carolina prep outfielder, Will Taylor, to be the pick. Taylor combines an athletic profile with excellent hitting data from the showcase circuits. The thought is that Taylor will require a higher price to buy him out his Clemson commitment to play baseball and line up as the slot receiver on the football team, however at this pick, the Angels would be in a good position to sign him.
10. New York Mets
Colson Montgomery, SS, Southridge (HS)
New York has leaned prep talent in recent years building out a solid group in the lower levels of the minors. They also don’t factor age heavily into their draft model so Colson Montgomery who is already 19. Still, his above-average hit and power projections offer the upside of an above-average third baseman at the next level.
11. Washington Nationals
Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
Kumar Rocker entered the year as a consensus top five prospect, but inconsistent results and waxing and waning velocity scared off some teams. The Nationals are very willing to take a risk in the hopes of landing an upside talent.
12. Seattle Mariners
Harry Ford, C, North Cobb (HS)
Seattle has been linked with college bats so far this draft cycle, but Harry Ford appears to be on the Mariners radar as well. Ford offers supreme athleticism, which mitigates the risk of taking a high school catcher early. By all accounts, Ford is a high character individual and would be a boon to any club house.
Ty Madden may be an option here as well. The Mariners had success with Emerson Hancock who entered 2020 in the 1-1 discussion before slipping to 6 with similar complaints about his fastball. Hancock has since soared up prospect rankings with a few pitching development modifications.
13. Philadelphia Phillies
Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
Frelick may not have elite upside, but he looks like a fairly sure bet to make it to the majors where could succeed as a high contact centerfielder (or second baseman). His run tool is about a 65. I do wonder if he is moved around at the next level. He has logged time at 2B and SS in the FCBL summer league in 2020. The fact that he is more of a “sure-thing” and the lack of college bats makes it likely he ends up somewhere in the top 10, but sometimes the board falls a certain way.
14. San Francisco Giants
Matt McLain, SS/OF, UCLA
San Francisco has been connected to all of the college hitters (Frelick, Cowser, and McLain) along with Jordan Wicks this draft cycle. I still lean to them taking one of the college bats if they have that option. McLain gets overshadowed, but he really shouldn’t. While he doesn’t have standout tools, McLain is a very successful college hitter form a strong program. He combines on-base skills with some emerging power in a profile that should succeed at 2B (some scouts feel a team should run him out at SS).
15. Milwaukee Brewers
Trey Sweeney, SS, EIU
Sweeney is a big-time pop-up prospect who sports top-of-the-line hitting data. Sweeney both hits the ball hard and also does not whiff often (87% contact rate). Some organizations may shy away from Sweeney due to his program strength or just because they couldn’t get enough evaluators to see him to draft Sweeney high enough. Sweeney has a chance for above-average hit and power despite a swing that has a lot of moving parts. Milwaukee could also snag Jordan Wicks, who many regard as the top lefthander in the draft class.
Where is Benny Montgomery going? Keeping with the same plan from Mock 3.0: “With three picks in the first two rounds, Milwaukee has a lot of money to work with to handle tough signs. The team also had no problem taking a hitter with a challenging swing. Garrett Mitchell (Milwaukee’s first round pick in 2020) was one of the most talented players in last year’s draft, but he slid due to a choppy swing. It’s rumored that Benny Montgomery (OF; Red Land, HS) could be a tough sign and he has a significant hitch in his swing that comes and goes. In this mock, the Brewers are in a position to save a significant amount of pool money with this pick (and take a affordable player in the comp round) before splurging on Montgomery with a later pick. Benny Montgomery has the potential to compete with Mitchell to determine who should man centerfield in a few years with top the charts athleticism.”
16. Miami Marlins
Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State
Will Bednar showcases top of the rotation stuff and Miami has shown the willingness to take premier pitchers who would still benefit from pitch development. Bednar’s fastball and slider both are plus pitches, but he could use some more refinement on his changeup, which is a pitch Miami is known for successfully developing.
17. Cincinnati Reds
Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Ole Miss
Cincinnati has three picks in the first 35 selections and a value play here early could allow the Reds to do big things in this draft. While Hoglund likely doesn’t sign for much less than slot, he offers a solid floor once he returns from TJS rehab without breaking the bank. Cincinnati is in a good position to float offers to some of the upside high school talent to see if any slide to 30 and 35. I strongly considered Matt Mikulski here and may be kicking myself on draft day for changing the selection.
18. St. Louis Cardinals
Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami OH
Bachman’s fastball, slider, and bourgeoning changeup combo can be electric. However there are whispers that teams are scared off by his medicals, namely a hip issue. It’s hard to tell how much of that is negotiating leverage or real medical concerns. The Cardinals have been more closely linked with upside prep talent, but it’s hard to argue with Bachmann if a team feels comfortable with his health forecast.
19. Toronto Blue Jays
Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
Williams only threw three innings in 2020 due to a broken finger and COVID-19, however he was dominant this past season including a dominant 7 1/3 innings, 7 hits, 2 unearned runs, with a 13/2 K/BB line in the Super Regionals against Vanderbilt. Williams showcases an exceptional fastball with elite velocity (95-99 mph) and movement patterns. His breaking pitches (curveball and slider are both plus and above-average respectively). His fourth pitch is his changeup and that is more inconsistent, but has been coming on of late. It flashes plus as well. Simply, Gavin Williams is coming and should be flying up draft boards. Recent communication suggested teams are wary of his injury history, but that is hard to track when teams were clamoring to draft Garret Crochet in 2020 after he threw 4 1/3 innings. The Blue Jays are also associated with a host of higher-upside players like Anthony Solometo, Jay Allen, Jud Fabian, and Joe Mack.
20. New York Yankees
Ethan Wilson, OF, South Alabama
Wilson is a solid, if unspectacular college bat offering a very high floor. Don’t let that dissuade any Yankees fans, Wilson’s lefthanded swing would fit in exceptionally well at Yankee Stadium. Greg Huss gives a great breakdown on Wilson.
Andrew Painter has been associated with the Yankees for awhile now as well. Painter trained at Cressey Sports Performance with Eric Cressey (Yankees Director of Player Health and Performance) as well. It’s possible that the Yankees try to find some slot savings here to try to sign Jaden Hill in the second or third round.
21. Chicago Cubs
Mike McGreevy, RHP, UCSB
I featured Michael McGreevy as a potential Cubs target since April. High school hitters are the most common demographic linked to the Cubs and I do think the organization is open to high upside selections, but I don’t think it’s a guarantee that it happens in the first. McGreevy profiles as a “command+” pitcher and he pounds the zone with a sinker that sits 92-95 mph. McGreevy also features a slider, curveball, and changeup as average or better pitches. McGreevy is a projectable guy at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds who carries a high floor with optimism to hit a mid-rotation starter ceiling.
Other players linked to the Cubs include Trey Sweeney (mentioned above), Jud Fabian (OF, Florida), Will Taylor (above), Tyler Whitaker (OF, Bishop Gorman), Sam Bachman (above), Anthony Solometo (LHP, Bishop Eustace HS), and Jackson Linn (OF, Cambridge Ringe HS). James Triantos (SS, Madison HS) has also been linked to the team and is finally getting some national publicity. Triantos sported a 94% contact rate in the showcase circuit last year (tops in the class) with a similar max EV as Will Taylor, Harry Ford, and the aforementioned Colson Montgomery. He hails from Cubs area scout (and 2020 Stan Zielinski Scout of the Year) Billy Swoope’s territory. From Mock Draft 3.0, “If there’s one player who could be this year’s Nick Yorke (who was a surprise mid-first round selection), I’ll say it is James Triantos“.
22. Chicago White Sox
Max Muncy, SS, Thousand Oaks (HS)
The White Sox have been all over high school players recently. Most notably the Sox have been heavy on Colson Montgomery and fellow prep SS, Max Muncy (no relation to the big-leaguer). With Montgomery off the board well before this pick, Max Muncy is the selection. Wes Kath (3B, Desert Mountain HS) is another name mentioned in association with the White Sox.
23. Cleveland Baseball Team
Chase Petty, RHP, Mainland Regional (HS)
I do buy the Cleveland-Petty rumors that have been circulating for several weeks now. Once, Cleveland prioritized the “command+” profile pitchers like Plesac, Civale, and Bieber, but in recent years Cleveland focused on hard throwing prep righthanders. Petty may just be the riskiest player in the draft, but his stuff is lethal. Scouts question whether he is a starter long-term. Other options appear to be high school shortstops, Carson Williams and Edwin Arroyo (although possibly for a later pick).
24. Atlanta Braves
Ty Madden, RHP, Texas
Madden is frequently linked to teams higher in the first round. On the surface that makes sense as he’s been very successful this season, including his recent College World Series performance. But there has been significant questions related to Madden’s fastball shape. His fastball has a movement pattern that some teams view as a ding on his resume. It’s a fairly similar profile to Cade Cavalli, who went 23rd overall, but was frequently linked to teams in the early teens. Cavalli ultimately went to a team who perceives things through more of a traditional scouting lens in Washington (which is one of the reasons they’ve been linked to Madden at 11). But that is all to put into context that Madden is a very good pitcher. He could provide great value to Atlanta here.
25. Oakland Athletics
Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State
Jordan Wicks has been firmly listed as the top college lefty in the class during the draft cycle largely on the success of an above-average fastball (plays up due to deception) and a supremely impressive changeup. While his pitching metrics won’t blow you away, they’re solid and he’s polished. A team in contention, like Oakland, should expect him up relatively soon. The A’s could look at McGreevy as a similar profile. Additionally, Oakland has been tied to a number of prep bats like Whitaker and Kath.
26. Minnesota Twins
Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
Jud Fabian has otherworldly talent, but the Ks just kept piling up this season. Even after he made a mid-season adjustment, the Ks crept back. He settled in around 29% K% for the year, which is way too high for most teams. But Fabian is still a premier athlete and defender in centerfield with above-average to plus power. Minnesota has shown a willingness to deal with strikeouts at the expense of power before.
27. San Diego Padres
Lonnie White Jr., OF, Malvern Prep (HS)
Look for the Padres to take a player with impressive metrics (pitching or hitting). Lonnie White gets the nod here after he demonstrated some of the best batted ball data in the showcases last year. He reigned supreme in max exit velocity with a solid contact rate. His chase rate was 23% (a tad high, but not outrageous), which was similar to Jordan Lawler. Peyton Stovall out of Haughton HS in Louisiana could be another name to watch here.
28. Tampa Bay Rays
Conner Norby, 2B, East Carolina
Middle infielders with plus hit tools are right up Tampa Bay’s alley and Norby fits that to a tee. The Rays’ first two picks are in close proximity to one another so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them flip profiles at 28/34. If Trey Sweeney made it down to 28, I believe he’d be the pick.
29. Los Angeles Dodgers
Wes Kath, 3B, Desert Mountain (HS)
For years the Dodgers snagged talents that fell to them in the draft and let their player development infrastructure build them up into elite prospects and MLB contributors. The Dodgers love to take “hit over power” infielders and work their PD magic. Kath is an amazing example of this (along with Peyton Stovall) and could be a dynamo in the LA system. Gage Jump, Conner Norby, Alex Mooney, Tommy Mace, Ryan Cusick, and Ky Bush could all be names to watch here.
30. Cincinnati Reds
Jay Allen, OF, John Carroll Catholic (HS)
Jay Allen could go way higher than this and is in play starting in the middle of the first round, but Cincinnati is in a great position to move money around to offer him significantly more than he could get with a higher pick. The Reds have been rumored to be all over the high school outfielder group for weeks now.
31. Miami Marlins
Spencer Schwellenbach, SS/RHP, Nebraska
Schwellenbach is one of the dynamic two-way players in this class. Unlike the majority of the big names (Montgomery, Jobe, Chandler), Schwellenbach is already in college where he served as SS and closer for Nebraska. Miami has been linked to higher upside players in this class and their pitching infrastructure puts the Marlins in a great position to build out Schwellenbach’s repertoire.
32. Detroit Tigers
Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian (HS)
Detroit should still have considerable funds to take another big swing after picking third overall. They’ve been tied to prep SS Alex Mooney, who could be available here as well. Here the Tigers pick up Painter to add to their future pitching options.
33. Milwaukee Brewers
Aaron Zavala, OF, Oregon
Brewer scouts were all over Aaron Zavala at the NCAA regionals in Eugene and he showed off a solid swing at the dish. His name has been creeping up boards in recent weeks. He dealt with a shoulder injury earlier in the season, but looked impressive in his return. His swing is geared towards teams that place a heavy emphasis on hitting models.
34. Tampa Bay Rays
Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace (HS)
I’ve had Tampa Bay linked to Solometo since the first mock draft so there’s no sense in deviating now. Solometo is a LHP with a funky arm action from the Northeast. The Rays haven’t shied away from any component of that profile before. Tampa Bay places added value on incorporating different looks from their pitching staff. Solometo is primarily a two-pitch guy and could stand to improve his changeup, but that’s hardly an unusual statement about cold-weather arms. The Rays brass has been spotted at several games for fellow northeast prep, Joshua Baez, and he could be in play for TB.
35. Cincinnati Reds
Malakhi Knight, OF, Marysville-Getchell (HS)
The Reds have been all over prep high school outfielders and there are rumors that James Wood may not be reasonably signable. Cincinnati had a surprisingly big scouting presence in to see Knight recently so this is a shot in the dark. He could certainly be a second or third round target.
36. Minnesota Twins
Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East (HS)
Mack could easily be an earlier selection in the first round, but if he makes it down to here, Minnesota should consider themselves lucky. The Twins are often associated with college bats, but having taken one earlier they can take the prep catcher with the best likelihood of staying at the position in the class.
“What is the optimal strategy in this year’s draft for the Cubs?”
There are countless different “ideal options” in the current landscape of the MLB Draft. Since the first year of the 10-round bonus pool draft format in 2012, we’ve seen teams be creative in how they stretch their imposed financial constraints to get the most talent out of the draft. For a breakdown in how the 2021 draft operates, check out the Chicago Cubs Draft Primer, but here’s a quick summary.
Since these bonus allotments aren’t fixed (only a guideline), the draft is really separated into two drafts. The first 10 rounds becomes its own beast with teams strategically drafting certain players to “save money” for higher priced picks. Often, this involves drafting players in the latter half of the first 10 rounds who are seniors in college and lack leverage in negotiations.”
Ivy Futures Draft Primer
A special thanks to David Elliott (@Davidrelliott) for the suggestion for the article
Disclaimer: I reference the signability of players casually, but these conjectures are based entirely on speculation and reports by draft analysts. No financial figure should be interpreted as a specific figure or information gathered from a player or advisor.
Round 1, Pick 21: James Triantos, SS, Madison HS
Slot figure $3,132,300; approximate signing $2.7 million Savings $432,300 Report: I previously wrote that if any player in this draft provided a profile similar to last year’s surprise first-round pick, Nick Yorke, that it was Triantos. Additionally, I believe James Triantos ranks high on the Cubs board. This is far from the consensus, but in this scenario, Triantos offers an a slot savings deal while bringing in a player that had some of the strongest batted-ball data on last year’s showcase circuit. Triantos is from Cubs area scout Billy Swoop’s territory and he’s rising on draft boards. Ultimately, more scouts view him as a SS/3B long-term. He may be the best high school hitter to come out of Virginia in the past five years, according to Prospects Live’s Draft Director, Joe Doyle.
Round 2, Pick 56: Jackson Linn, OF, Cambridge Rindge and Latin
Slot figure $1,276,400; approximate signing $1.8 million Savings -$523,600 Report: With the money saved from the pick at 21, the Chicago Cubs take a chance at another rising high school bat, Jackson Linn. The outfielder produced big time exit velocities at the MLB Draft Combine. He is a power bat that also shows off a plus-plus arm (hit 98 mph off the mound). He has a smooth easy stroke with a consistent hitting pattern. The Cambridge Rindge and Latin player has teams interested in the second and third rounds, with Baltimore at 41 offering a high water mark for him. This mock sends Linn to the Cubs for the 41st pick’s value.
Round 3, Pick 93: Grant Holman, RHP, California
Slot Figure $627,900; approximate signing $500k Savings $127,900 Report: California’s Grant Holman is an upside prospect in this year’s draft. He is a recent convert to pitching and utilizing a long extension (over 7′), which boosts the perceived velocity (the ball looks faster to the hitter because the ball is released closer to the plate) on the pitch. His secondaries don’t play as well as his 92-95 fastball, but his split-change and slider show flashes of being better than average. The fastball incorporates heavy sink on the pitch, which is a fastball characteristic the Cubs have historically liked. This is another selection where the Cubs invest in a large, athletic player who boasts characteristics they like and features an impressive ceiling.
Round 4, Pick 123: Denzel Clarke, OF, Cal State Northridge
Report: Clarke is a name on the rise after his stellar performance at the MLB Draft Combine. He is a big power/speed threat at the next level. And he uses that speed to be a strong centerfielder (Big West’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2021). Clarke’s power is still raw, but it appears after his performance in the MLB Draft Combine, that he’s starting to realize that power. Clarke is a mammoth of a man, standing 6’5″ and 220 pounds. He’s gaining a lot of buzz and should go on day two of this year’s draft.
Round 5, Pick 153: Rohan Handa, LHP, Yale
Slot Figure $343,400; approximate signing $343,400 Savings $0 Report: The Hartford Courant put out an incredible article on Handa who is a big-time pop-up arm. The Yale pitcher remade himself this past season and is intriguing teams with upper 90s velocity and plus slider. No one knows where to place him in the draft, but with the interest in Handa, a team is likely going to need to take him relatively early even if it is just a bullpen profile. The Cubs invested in power lefty arms in last year’s draft (Carraway and Luke Little) and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them do it again this season.
Round 6, Pick 184: Garrett Horn, LHP, Glenn HS
Slot Figure $263,700; approximate signing $563,700 Savings -$300,000 Report: In the past several year’s the Cubs have leaned heavily on prep pitching in North Carolina. Horn may not be a familiar name but he’s a 6’2″, projectable lefthander who throws five pitches with his four seam (90-95 mph), curveball (77-81 mph), circle changeup (low to mid 80s), and cutter (87-91 mph) his primary pitches. He will mix in a two-seam fastball. Horn recently had a successful showcase at the MLB Draft Combine and I believe he’ll be on teams’ radars, including the Cubs.
Round 7, Pick 214: Wyatt Hendrie, C, San Diego State
Slot Figure $206,500; approximate signing $56,500 Savings $150,000 Report: Hendrie was the lone pick in the first ten-rounds of the draft to not sign with the Cubs during Theo Epstein’s tenure. Some believe that Hendrie’s failed signing was the sole reason for Theo Epstein to leave the club over a year later. Those aren’t people you should associate with without witnesses. Hendrie looks like a future back-up catcher with more upside. He’s a rare hitter who has almost as many walks as strikeouts and his defense looks above-average behind the plate. He may never hit for much power, but Hendrie should have success at the next level.
Round 8, Pick 244: Michael Kirian, LHP, Louisville
Slot Figure $168,500; approximate signing $168,500 Savings $0 Report: It was almost a rite of passage for a Louisville pitcher to be selected by the Chicago Cubs in the draft. Here the Cubs select a giant lefty (6’6″, 230 pounds) who still needs considerable mechanical refinement and pitch development. The Cubs have invested heavily in their high performance and performance science infrastructure and have the foundation to develop Kirian either as a starter or in the pen.
Round 9, Pick 274: Brett Harris, 3B, Gonzaga
Slot Figure $152,300; approximate signing $52,300 Savings $100,000 Report: Brett Harris is a classic “senior sign” player from a solid program. He performed well this past season and, per scouts, showed good makeup with his teammates. At the NCAA Regionals, multiple scouts from the Oakland A’s were impressed with Harris. The defense wasn’t spectacular in that outing, but he’s a steady bat.
Slot Figure $143,900; approximate signing $43,900 Savings $100,000 Report: The Cubs were heavily linked to East Carolina’s Alec Burleson (1B) in last year’s draft before the Cardinals nabbed him in the third round. They then landed Matt Mervis in the post-draft free agency period. After year’s of avoiding the profile, I believe the Cubs see value in college first basemen. Griffin Doersching’s 20 home runs and his improving performance warrant a serious look.
Spending: $6,728,300 Savings: $51,100 Savings plus 5% overage: $390,070
Savings can be used to offer above the $125,000 threshold for players in rounds 11-20. Effectively the Cubs could bring in several $250,000 players in the later rounds since only the funds above $125,000 are counted against the pool. The Cubs did this in 2018 to great success.
Ten-round mock drafts are not built to be accurate exercises, but they are fun. It will be fascinating to see who the Cubs target early in this draft. This mock incorporates a few player demographics and qualities that I hope the Cubs target: high school talent, upside college players, premier athletes, and an emphasis on high performance/performance science.