The Rundown: Kantrovitz Building Elite Farm System, Cubs Draft 16 Total Pitchers, AL Wins 9th Straight ASG

“He sees the things that he knows are his. He sees the bright and hollow sky. He sees the city asleep at night. He sees the stars are out tonight.” – Iggy Pop, The Passenger

The Cubs drafted 20 players over the past three days, 16 of whom were pitchers. That’s telling because clearly there aren’t enough minor league at-bats available to handle more position players. In other words, Chicago’s system is so stacked with good offensive players at every position that VP of scouting Dan Kantrovitz just didn’t have many openings for non-pitchers.

“You want to be careful when you’re drafting a player, especially on Day 3, that there’s going to be somewhere for him to play and get at-bats,” Kantrovitz said.

“We’ve got a lot of young position players coming up that are going to need those [reps] the rest of the summer. And unless we felt like we were drafting somebody that was better than one of them, we didn’t want to take away at-bats from an existing prospect.”

If you needed a jolt of excitement about the future of the Cubs, there you go. Not all prospects pan out, but it’s rare to have the type of system-wide depth we’re seeing from Chicago’s farm right now. That is exactly what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were hoping for when they brought Kantrovitz into the organization to orchestrate their draft strategy. Granted, a lot of the players the Cubs acquired came when they started dismantling their core, but I’m sure Kantrovitz was consulted on every deal.

He also mentioned that he expects the team to sign 18-19 of the 20 players they drafted. If I had to guess, I’d say Mason McGwire will be the toughest of those, though things could get a little dicey if first-round pick Cade Horton wants to be paid a bonus commensurate with the No. 7 overall pick. Most view his selection as an under-slot attempt to funnel close to $2 million down the chain to sign second-round pick Jackson Ferris.

Beat writer Meghan Montemurro of The Chicago Tribune indicated Monday via Twitter that the Cubs do not expect any signability issues with Horton or Ferris. In fact, Kantrovitz gamed his first two selections with the idea that “we’d have a bit of (bonus pool) money to potentially spread around and it ended up coming to fruition.” He also mentioned that Horton was his prime first-round target.

The two pitchers should immediately jump into the 10-15 range of the team’s top 20 prospects with Brailyn Márquez and Miguel Amaya the likeliest candidates to regress a little. Adding Horton and Ferris gives the Cubs a top 15 that should be the envy of most of the league, and the organization still has tradeable assets in Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, David Robertson, and Mychal Givens.

In fact, the system is so good that Matt Mervis and Jake Slaughter could make Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel expendable. The corner prospects are having breakout seasons but aren’t among the team’s top 30 minor leaguers. It’s safe to say Kantrovitz deserves a big round of applause for his role in Chicago’s (it’s not a) rebuild. The Cubs have a top-five system right now, and one could even make the argument that it’s the best in baseball.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Rob Manfred is bad for baseball, but he certainly plays the role of ownership stooge to perfection.

Climbing the Ladder

“Could you kindly tell me, friend, what time the show begins?” – Bob Dylan, Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts

Now that the draft has concluded, here’s how I’d rank Chicago’s top 15 prospects.

  1. Pete Crow-Armstrong
  2. Brennen Davis
  3. Cristian Hernández 
  4. James Triantos
  5. Owen Caissie
  6. Kevin Alcántara 
  7. Jordan Wicks
  8. Ferris
  9. Caleb Kilian
  10. Horton
  11. DJ Herz
  12. Reginald Preciado
  13. Kevin Made
  14. Kohl Franklin
  15. Ed Howard

How About That!

The American League won last night’s All-Star Game, extending their winning streak in the Mid-Summer Classic to nine straight. Giancarlo Stanton and Byron Buxton were the AL heroes, and Stanton earned MVP honors.

In a last-minute update, the league added a Home Run Derby as a way to settle a potential tie game after nine innings.

Mic’d-up players provided some of the best moments in last night’s game.

A star was born this week in Los Angels, and it is Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez.

Reliever Ryan Helsey hit 103 mph on the radar gun twice last night.

I wasn’t much of a Bryce Harper fan until Jonathan Papelbon attacked him in the Nationals dugout back in 2015. Apparently, Harper is still living rent-free in Papelbon’s head.

The league is moving ahead with plans to put sponsorship logos on players’ uniforms next season.

Extra Innings

Seven feet tall with a 95 mph fastball and a lot of projection left? That’s a scary thought.

Wednesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Bears GM Ryan Poles is “all in” on second-year quarterback Justin Fields, in case you forgot.
  2. If anyone deserves the title “Steely-Eyed Missile Man” it’s astronaut Neil Armstrong. Today is the 53rd anniversary of Armstrong’s walk on the moon.
  3. Elon Musk and Twitter had their first day in court and the judge ordered the two sides to trial.
  4. After losing 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of this year, Netflix said in its earnings report yesterday that 970,000 more left the platform in the last three months. Talk about running up that hill.
  5. The Republican Party is doing its best to push Donald Trump out of this election cycle and the next. Despite that, I’d say tabloid elections are the new norm in this country.
  6. It’s a 27-minute listen that’s worth your undivided attention, but NPR devoted their most recent Pop Culture Happy Hour to the best movie soundtracks of all time. If I had to make a desert island choice for my favorite it would be Garden State, though Beautiful Girls is a very close second.

They Said It

  • “You have to put different plans in place for various scenarios that may unfold during the signing process.” – Kantrovitz
  • “[The All-Star Game] was really great. Something about this was very special. I was just talking to my family about it. Having that great group of guys in the National League makes it even better.” – Contreras
  • “That was cool, to play the outfield [with Schwarber] at that stage in that game. We played I can’t tell you how many games in center and left together, so to do it again is really cool.” – Happ

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

“Motionless wheel. Nothing is real.”

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