Now just a less than a month away the talk about what the Cubs will do with their first pick, fourth overall, in the upcoming MLB draft is starting to heat up.
After taking position players the past two years, the Cubs will most likely be selecting a pitcher with their first pick this year. It’s one of the positions their farm system lacks depth in, so it makes sense if the Cubs go that route.
The Cubs draft plans may have taken a big hit this week when East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman under went Tommy John surgery. Hoffman, 21, was projected to go in the top five and many considered the Cubs to be a potential landing spot. But now his draft stock will certainly take a hit after the surgery. So what do the Cubs do now?
Well, the good news is that this draft is loading with arms. The top three prospects right now, Brady Aiken, Carlos Rondon and Tyler Kolek are all pitchers. Sitting at number four the Cubs might not be able to get any of those guys.
If that is the case, Aaron Nola and Tyler Beede would be two names to keep an eye on. Catching prospect Alex Jackson would be intriguing for the Cubs because they lack at the position throughout the organization.
Here is my list of the top 5 players for the Cubs to draft come June 5th:
LHP Carlos Rodon:
The junior out of North Carolina State would be a perfect player for the Cubs. With a lot of their prospects getting close to the major league level, the Cubs are getting closer to putting together a contending team. Being a college arm, Rodon is more developed than the two high school pitchers in the draft. He would fit very well into the Cubs plans and would be a big piece of the starting rotation by 2016. He’s been considered the top prospect coming in 2015 for quite some time now.
Although some scouts have Aiken ahead of Rodon right now, Rodon is still the more developed pitcher. He features three pitches with his slider being the best. His fastball is also an above average pitch for him but he needs to work on his change up.
LHP Brady Aiken:
Aiken is a 17-year-old left hander out of Cathedral Catholic High School in California. He has really increased his draft stock with a dominating performance for Team USA in the 18-and-under World Cup last September. Aiken has followed that up with a great senior season.
Although he is committed to UCLA, Aiken will likely be signing with whatever team drafts him. He features a fastball, curve and changeup that are all above average pitches. Aiken also has above average control that is better than any of the top three pitchers in the draft.
RHP Tyler Kolek:
Another high school arm at the top of the draft boards. The sky is the limit for this senior out of Shepard High School in Texas. MLB.com rates Kolek’s fastball as an 80 on the scouting scale, which is the highest rating there is. In his senior season, Kolek’s fastball was consistenly sitting around 96mph and he can reach 99mph when he really revs it up. He also features an above average slider and curveball while his changeup will need some work. The most important point of Kolek’s games that he will have to improve on his is below average command.
RHP Aaron Nola:
The ace of Lousiana State’s pitching staff has seen his draft stock increase with the injury to Hoffman. Many consider him to be the second best college arm behind Rodon. In 2013, Nola posted a 1.57 ERA with a very impressive strikeout to walk ratio and WHIP. He doesn’t have one outstanding pitch like Kolek or Rodon but all three of his pitches are above average. He is not an overpowering pitcher but knows how to work the strike zone. MLB.com have Nola as the pitcher most likely to reach the big leagues first. The would be a great situation for the Cubs to grab a pitcher that will be able to make an impact very soon.
RHP Tyler Beede:
Beede, a junior out of Vanderbilt University, was previously selected in the first round of the 2011 draft by Toronto but decided to attend college. The right hander has very impressive stuff led by his fastball that clocks in the mid to upper 90’s. The main question for Beede moving forward will be if he can improve his command. He certainly has to the stuff to be a top of the rotation starter but will need to improve his command. A few adjustments in his mechanics may help. Ultimately, I think the Cubs stay away from Beede but he is worth noting here because at times his stuff is almost impossible to hit.