Cubs 2020 MLB Draft Preview: Chicago Prepares To Continue System Rebuild
Unlike the NBA or NFL drafts, MLB teams do not draft for immediate need. There’s good reason for that, as even the most MLB-ready draft prospects usually take two seasons to get fully established in the majors. But as we ready for the 2020 MLB draft, it is useful to look at where teams are deep and where they are thin at the MLB and minor league level.
Also of note:
2019 MLB RECORD: 84-78
STATE OF THE SYSTEM: The Cubs graduated a tremendous collection of prospects (Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Willson Contreras, Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora) during the decade and traded others (Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez) to add key veterans. The result was four straight postseason appearances and the end of a 108-year World Series drought, well worth the cost of emptying out a farm system that is only now just starting to rebuild.
BEST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: Kris Bryant, 2013 (first round). The second overall pick in 2013, Bryant went from Minor League Player of the Year in 2014 to National League Rookie of the Year in 2015 to National League MVP in 2016. Though he has yet to add to his award collection since, he remains one of baseball’s brightest stars as an MVP, World Series champion and three-time all-star by 28.
WORST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: Hayden Simpson, 2010 (first round). One of the most shocking draft picks of the decade, the Cubs selected Simpson 16th overall in 2010 out of Division II Southern Arkansas when the rest of the industry considered him a fourth-to-sixth round talent. He battled mononucleosis and an elbow injury after signing and went 5-17, 6.42 in two minor league seasons before being released.
DEEPEST POSITION(S): Second base. The Cubs may not have a true second baseman in the traditional sense because of how often they move players around, but it’s the position where they have the most capable, high-quality players. Javier Baez spent most of his early career at second base, David Bote and Ian Happ are both natural second basemen and top position player prospect Nico Hoerner projects to end up at second as well. Recent draft pick Chase Strumpf and 2019 surprise Robel Garcia further add to the Cubs’ second base depth.
WEAKEST POSITION(S): Outfield. Again, it’s not a perfect measure because of how often the Cubs shuffle players in and out, but the main outfield core of Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora and Jason Heyward has generally underperformed relative to expectations for three straight years, and help isn’t coming anytime soon. Top outfield prospects Brennen Davis and Cole Roederer ended last season at low Class A South Bend, and the best outfield prospects beyond them are largely in short-season ball.
DRAFT TRENDS: The Cubs have drafted a college player with their last seven first-round picks since 2013. They’ve also drafted heavily from the west in recent years. Seven of their last nine first-day picks came from either California or Arizona.