It was a very interesting first day of picks for the Chicago Cubs on Monday for Day 1 of the Amateur Draft. Overall, the team had four picks on the first day, a day that featured rounds 1 and 2. It was the perfect opportunity for the organization to reload their farm system with some potential impact talent.
The front office followed a familiar trend of selecting a college bat with their first pick and continued with three more picks that meshed well with the type of players they like to feature in the Minor League system. Get to know a little bit about each of the four selections below!
Round 1, Pick 24: Nico Hoerner
School: Stanford University
Of course this front office took a college bat with their first round pick. In a bit of a surprising move, especially considering the names that were still on the board, the Cubs selected the starting shortstop from the Pac-12 champion Stanford Cardinal. There are many clear indicators as to why the Cubs liked Hoerner, none of which are more important that his ability to flat out rake at the plate.
Hoener put up a very impressive .349/.396/.498/.894 slash line during his Junior season at Stanford, and his hit tool is probably his most impressive. His ability to put bat on ball translated well to his strikeout rate, which sat at just 8.8%, and walked nearly as many times as he struck out (20 compared to 22).
He tends to lack in the power department as it stands now, but actually put up impressive power numbers in the Cape Cod League last summer. He was able to hit 6 bombs in just 40 games during that season. According to top front office man Jason McLeod, he seems to think that there is some untapped power in Hoerner’s bat.
On the defensive side, he has the ability to play both short and second base. The three year starter in college played his first two seasons at the keystone before moving over to short for his Junior season. With this front office highly valuing premium defense at positions up the middle at centerfield, shortstop, and catcher, they clearly think Hoerner has the ability to play at short at a high level. But Nico also shows a quality that the Cubs value in their minor league system: playing all over the diamond.
An easy comparison to make with Nico Hoerner is David Bote. Impressive hit tool, power potential with a buy-in to the fly ball revolution, and high defensive skills and flexibility.
Round 2, Pick 62: Brennen Davis
School: Basha High School (AZ)
The front office has not really been high on many high school bats over the years, but were high enough on Brennen Davis to select him in the second round this year. A two-sport athlete during his time in high school, Davis was an all-state basketball player before moving full-time to the diamond.
Because of his lack of focus on only baseball, Davis is a very raw prospect and will be a project for the Cubs minor league system to take on. He dealt with a hamstring issue over this school year, but a healthy Brennen Davis means very good speed. That speed will translate into both stolen bases and terrific field coverage where he will start in centerfield.
Experts seem to think that the bat has potential to be decent in both the contact and power categories, but his swing will need some adjusting in pro ball. My initial thoughts on Davis is a comparison to current South Bend centerfielder DJ Wilson. Be patient, it will take some time to reach his full potential.
Compensation Round 2, Pick 77: Cole Roederer
School: Hart High School (CA)
Remember three years ago when the Cubs were just so close to taking Andrew Benintendi with their first round selection? Well they may have just gotten a little bit of their Benintendi fix satisfied with their selection of Cole Roederer. The high school outfielder has been compared to the Red Sox left fielder on several occasions during the draft process and sports a good combination of speed and pop.
Hart High School has produced several Major League players over the years, including Trevor Bauer (boo) and during his time there Roederer showcased his skills with a .353 batting average with 4 bombs and 26 stolen bases in a very impressive area for high school baseball. Roederer dealt with some injury issues and will look to perform at a high level when fully healthy if the Cubs can sign him away from his UCLA commitment.
Compensation Round 2, Pick 78: Paul Richan
School: University of San Diego
The Cubs have had some pretty good luck drafting guys out of the University of San Diego, haven’t they? Paul Richan hails from Kris Bryant’s alma mater and will immediately bring a starter arsenal with him to the Chicago Cubs. Richan has a four pitch mix, with a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. His heater hits up to 94 on the gun and the slider is a plus offering with it being his best offspeed delivery. Both of his other offspeed offerings profile with potential to be average.
He has the build of a starter at 6’3”, 200 lbs. and will be used as one during his time in the minor leagues. While the stats were not entirely flashy during his Junior campaign in San Diego with a 4.62 ERA and .280 opponent batting average against, he was able to rack up the strikeouts (101) and keep the walks down (13) in his 89.2 innings of work over 18 appearances and 11 starts.