Obviously none of the players drafted this week (especially since the Chicago Cubs pick so late in every round) will be called up to play for the big league team this year, but when the front office said they wanted to address a need, they weren’t kidding. On the first night, the Cubs drafted three college pitchers. On day two, they kept piling up the arms, with each pick at least seeming logical and also intriguing. Let’s go through the picks…
Third round, 105th overall: Keegan Thompson, RHP from Auburn University
Thompson had Tommy John surgery and sat out all of 2016, but as a senior with a history of success despite the setback, he sounds like the type who will move quickly up the ladder. Again, as a senior, the Cubs may be able to depress his signing bonus some to save money for other picks, but we will see.
Fourth round, 135th overall: Erich Uelmen, RHP from Cal Poly SLO
Uelmen has a funky last name and also apparently a funky two-seamer. The consensus seems to be that he will at least be a solid relief option, but as with all pitchers in the Cubs system, I believe he will be given the chance to start until he shows he can’t do it anymore.
Fifth round, 165th overall: Nelson Velazquez, OF from a high school I’ve never heard of
The first non-pitcher of this draft taken by the Cubs, it sounds like they went with a toolsy outfielder who needs some nurturing. I haven’t been able to find out much about him but we’ll find out more later. Velazquez isn’t on the top 200 list, so this might be an underslot signing as well.
Sixth round, 195th overall: Jeremy Estrada, RHP from Palm Desert HS
Estrada sounds like he’s very committed to UCLA, and is ranked as a top 100 talent. Some of the potential underslot guys from the earlier rounds may save money to lure him away from his college commitment, but even if the Cubs can’t sign him, the slot is only for $222.6K, so they won’t take too much of a hit. My guess is that the Cubs know they have the money to land Estrada, and it remains to be seen whether he will take the money or decide to go to college to raise his stock in a few years.
Seventh round, 225th overall: Ricky Tyler Thomas, LHP from Fresno State
I know nothing about this guy, but trust the Cubs implicitly. Here’s a writeup:
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) June 13, 2017
Eighth round, 255th overall: Austin Filiere, 3B from MIT (!)
Looks like another brainiac to join Kyle Hendricks on the Cubs MENSA squad. Although MIT is Division III, Filiere raked at the Cape Cod League and sounds very athletic. Could be a fun pick, and another potential money-saver even though he’s only a junior.
Ninth round, 285th overall: Chris Carrier, OF from the University of Memphis
We’ve gotten to the part of the draft where the Cubs try to save even more money by signing seniors. I’m going to assume this guy can hit and field adequately, and you always need guys like that to fill out minor league rosters anyway. Sounds like he might have some power…
In the 9th Round (pick 285 overall), the Cubs take OF Chris Carrier, Memphis. Senior with power.
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) June 13, 2017
Tenth round, 315th overall: Brian Glowicki, RHP from Minnesota
Another senior. Yup, saving money.
My guess is that most of these picks are underslot types, with the overage mostly going to Estrada and maybe Lange. The later pitchers are obvious savings types, but in previous drafts, picks like Ryan Williams have shown that lottery tickets can come out of the 10th round. The Cubs selected eight pitchers and three position players over the first two days, and I expect the rest of the draft to be pretty pitching heavy. Sometimes teams just find little gold nuggets in all the muck, which is why they call it prospecting.
I did find out that the picks in the 11th through 40th rounds can max out at $125K before the money counts against the Cubs’ slot pool, but I doubt that affects the calculus much unless the savings from the first ten rounds go to a sleep on day three. Since there is no penalty for not signing a player on day three, they might as well go for it and see what happens.