The MLB Draft is just about a month away and prospects have been flying all over mocks, boards, and rankings. The Cubs should get a very good player with the No. 27 pick this year, though their choice could go in one of several different directions. They’ve got $5,826,900 to spend — $6,118,245 with overages — in total, with a suggested value of $2,570,100 on that first pick.
When it comes to who that pick, I have my eyes on a few guys. Listed below are seven players to watch, with the candidates divided into “My Guys” and “Sleepers.”
My Guy – Logan Wyatt (1B, Louisville)
The 6-foot-4, 230 pound left-handed hitter smells like power and potential. After sitting behind first-round pick Brendan McKay, Wyatt has really come into his own this year and had hit 7 home runs with a .487 OBP as of post time. The only negative against him is that he plays first base.
The folks at MLB Pipeline believe he’s capable of playing left field, though, and there’s always room for a hitter with an advanced approach.
He has tremendous feel for hitting, manages the strike zone very well and could develop at least 20-homer power on an annual basis if he gets more aggressive and drives more balls in the air.
Sleeper – Kody Hoese (3B, Tulane)
Hoese (pronounced HOSE-ee) was not on anyone’s top 200 list heading into this year’s rankings. He probably wasn’t even in many top 300 lists. But cranking out 21 homers by the end of April will get everyone’s attention. He even hit 3 in one game. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, he’s got the perfect frame for a corner position in the infield or outfield.
— Tulane Green Wave (@TulaneAthletics) February 21, 2019
My Guy – Seth Johnson (RHP, Campbell University)
This is the only college arm I would feel comfortable taking at this point in the draft and have it not be a reach. For more on Johnson, check out our profile from early April.
High School Bats
My Guy – Rece Hinds (3B, IMG Academy)
Though he’s committed to LSU, he could be swayed to sign. At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, he’s a physical specimen and a freak athlete with immense power potential. He also tracks the ball well throughout the pitch, which is hard to develop at that age. Take a look at Exhibit A:
While he could stick at third, he’s a good enough athlete to move to the outfield. If he attends LSU as planned, he could be a top 5 pick in 2022. If he signs, he could possibly be in the majors by then.
Sleeper – Keoni Cavaco (3B, Eastlake HS)
The biggest riser this spring, Cavaco has a great arm for the position and his bat will need to catch up to his arm at some point. He’s working on it and has room to grow into his 6-foot-1, 185 pound frame.
High School Arms
My Guy – Jack Leiter (RHP, Delbarton HS)
The 6-foot-1, 190 pound righty has a lot more polish than most high school kids. It probably doesn’t hurt that his dad is former MLB pitcher Al Leiter, but the youngster is definitely his own player. MLB Pipeline loves him and once you watch him work, it’s hard not to see why.
Leiter has a solid four-pitch mix and knows what to do with all of his offerings. His fastball was in the 90-95 mph range all summer, touching those upper numbers in shorter stints and sitting around 92 mph more often than not. The fastball plays up because he throws it with some sink and commands it extremely well. Some feel his curveball is better than his slider, but both should be distinct and effective breaking balls for him, and he has a solid changeup as well.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 5, 2019
Sleeper – Hunter Barco (LHP, The Bolles HS)
I love Barco, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound — are you sensing a theme here? — lefty who is committed to Florida and could be a top 10 pick in three years if he goes there. He’s got great talent already and could smooth a few things out, but what high schooler doesn’t. Take a look:
Ranking the 7
I really dig Leiter right now. He’s so mature for his age and would not need much development at the lower levels as he already has a pretty good arsenal and solid mechanics. Johnson is the lottery pick. Blessed with a golden arm and low mileage, he comes across as a having the profile Jason McLeod’s scouting team looks for.
The issue with these two picks is that they are pitchers, which the Cubs have previously considered to be huge risks for the first round. Even though they’ve been vocal about being more aggressive when it comes to drafting and developing arms, I would be surprised if the Cubs went for either pitcher in round one.
Because so many of their position players are set to become free agents after 2021, though, a college bat makes sense. If that’s the case, Wyatt would be the guy and Hoese could be a close second. Personally, Hinds would be my first pick. He would take some time to develop, but he’s just such a good athlete the Cubs can be patient because they won’t need him until at least 2022.
If it came down to a true best-player-available scenario, I would go Hinds, followed by Leiter and then Johnson. There’s still a lot of time for things to move around, but I’m starting to get really excited about the options the Cubs should have with that No. 27 pick.