Cubs Insider Draft Primer: Prep Bats Are a Bit of a Risk This Year

In the first of these early draft previews, I took a few brief looks at some pitchers who might be available and pointed out one in particular to hone in on. This week’s post will examine several high school position players who could be available for the Cubs to take with the 24th pick.

The Cubs have only drafted one prep bat in the first round the past six summers, and that was Albert Almora Jr. in 2012. There can be a very high risk in taking a high school hitting prospect, since they tend to take a little bit longer to develop. And with an organizational shift to pitchers, there might not be much impetus to look for offense early.

Nothing is set in stone, though, and there will be a few prep possibilities for the Cubs to consider. Here are a few to keep an eye on the next few months.

Triston Casas

The big first baseman probably has the most power potential of anyone in the second tier of high school position players. That first tier tends to empty out starting in the early teens and the second tier will pick up in the mid 20’s. I’ve seen Casas projected in mock drafts anywhere from the low 20’s to the high 30’s.

While he does not fit the mold of the type of athlete the Cubs have picked in recent years, Casas can has played at a high level in multiple forums. He is limited defensively, so the Cubs are going to have to believe the bat is really special to take him at 24.

In the following video, you get a pretty good look at his size and swing.

Xavier Edwards

I could see the Cubs gambling on Edwards as he is already a four-tool prospect, with power standing out as the only real weakness in his game. He is 5-foot-10, but he has excellent speed and an strong arm and could stick at shortstop. Though it could be hard to talk him out of his commitment to Vanderbilt, the switch hitter has the kind of talent many pro teams would love to get their hands on.

Joe Gray, Jr.

He might be a reach, but he has the potential to be a five-tool player. Right now, however, he is not. I will let MLB Pipeline give you the tale of his tape:

Gray has two loud tools in his raw power and arm strength. With his lightning-fast bat and his strength, he can hammer balls out of the park to all fields from the right side of the plate. The Mississippi recruit might have the best arm among 2018 high school position players, having been clocked at 98 mph from the outfield at the Perfect Game National showcase last June, though his accuracy sometimes leaves something to be desired.

Mike Siani

A left-handed outfielder/pitcher from Pennsylvania whose idol is Mike Trout, Siani is sitting in the mid 30’s to upper 40’s on most draft boards. He might be one of those kids who rises as it gets warmer in May and early June. He’s an outstanding defender who is currently committed to the University of Virginia, so it may a bit to land him.

What makes Siani stand out above other prospects is his incredible athleticism. He can really go get the ball and has a strong arm as well. The more I watch him play, the more I like him. The main issue at this point is that his bat needs more work and he has struggled a bit against elite competition, but that could all change quickly with a couple of adjustments at the pro level.

Siani also appears to have great makeup, which is evident in this short interview:

A of right now, I am not really sold on any these kids being worthy of the No. 24 pick. Casas and Edwards stick out from other position players in this tier, but even they need a little more polish to sneak into the first round.

When it comes to what the Cubs are trying to do, the best value for them is a college bat, followed by a college arm or a high school pitcher. Then come the prep bats, though things could always change.

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