This week is the MLB Rule 4 Amateur Draft, and as you are very much aware, because the Chicago Cubs signed Jason Heyward and John Lackey, and didn’t grab a compensation pick for Dexter Fowler (but who cares, he’s awesome for Chicago), Jason McLeod and friends don’t get to pick until the third round, so the first day of the Draft won’t involve the Cubs at all. That doesn’t mean we’re not excited, but it does put a damper on the weekend’s marquee event for us, and it also belies what we thought about a couple seasons back when it looked like the Cubs were on the verge of getting good.
Having a later round pick doesn’t sap our confidence in the Cubs brain trust, though, as you’ve probably heard of underslots and other later signees doing well in the lower minors. Ryan Williams, for example, was picked in the 10th round of the same draft that got Kyle Schwarber to Chicago, and he looks like he knows what he’s doing. Speaking of Schwarber and his fellow draftees…
— dabynsky (@dabynsky) June 8, 2016
Now we don’t want to put any undue pressure on Jason McLeod and the scouting team, but that’s pretty impressive. Even McLeod himself has stayed humble, letting us know that they missed on some impact pitchers in the previous drafts, something that I know many Cubs fans have complained about and that the front office continues to address because they don’t just sit around watching Rome burn down. Think about it…from 2011 to 2014, the Cubs drafted, in order:
- Javier Baez
- Albert Almora, who made his debut on Tuesday night in place of Jorge Soler
- Kris Bryant
- Kyle Schwarber
All of these guys made it to the Show, within 4 seasons of being drafted, and in the case of Baez, Bryant, and Schwarber, we’ve already blogged enough about their awesomeness that you don’t need it rehashed, unless you do, in which case do a search in our blog and check out all the awesomeness.
We can start with Schwarber, a defensively-challenged but very hard-working guy who accumulated 1.2 bWAR over just 69 contests last season before he blew out his knee early this season. So even with bad defense (psst: it’s not THAT bad), his bat was supreme. He struck out in his debut plate appearance, but had a great second game on the way to some postseason highlights. Hopefully he can come back and catch some because Cubs catchers are getting a bit old.
Before him, in the same season, Bryant came up conveniently after his cutoff date, and struck out 3 times in his debut game. He ended up being alright from the second game on, winning the Rookie of the Year award. Not too shabby, right?
Before those two, we had Javier Baez, who struck out like a billion times in his debut season, but still flashed plenty of power and has been responsible for some of the most memorable hits and homers in recent memory. His versatility on defense and power potential make him an extremely valuable player.
I know Almora simply grounded out in his debut, but if the track record of the Cubs front office is any indication, we might expect some great things from him eventually. We just have to be patient, as we’ve been since Theo Epstein was hired. The rewards have come, and will continue to come.