Cubs Draft Update: Pitching Injuries Muddle Cubs Draft Picture

The recent elbow injuries to RHP Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina) and RHP Erick Fedde (UNLV) that resulted in Tommy John surgery for both college right handers have taken two pitching options off the board the Cubs could have selected with the fourth pick in the upcoming draft. It is very likely a team will take a chance on both pitchers next month, but it is not likely that either pitcher will be picked as high as they were once projected to be drafted.

As has been reported, the Cubs were very high on Jeff Hoffman, but reportedly “can’t take him at No. 4 now.”

Many thought the Cubs would select a starting pitcher with the fourth pick in the first round, but with Carlos Rodon, Tyler Kolek and Brady Aiken likely going in the first three picks, the Cubs could take a position player (Alex Jackson, Nick Gordon, Bradley Zimmer) instead. Patrick Mooney reported the “Cubs aren’t really sold on Louisiana State University right-hander Aaron Nola.” And Derek Johnson’s relationship with Vanderbilt RHP Tyler Beede “has been overstated” according to Mooney’s report.

Jed Hoyer reiterated last week that the Cubs would select the best player available with their first round pick.

The Tribune reported “the Cubs have collected medical and background information on all of their candidates” but the team has “yet to conduct final meetings with serious contenders and their parents.” Multiple reports last week indicated the Cubs met with Tyler Kolek and his parents. And the Tribune reported LHP Kyle Freeland (Evansville), LHP Brandon Finnegan (Texas Christian) and Alex Jackson rate high on the Cubs board. Finnegan missed two weeks with shoulder inflammation. Finnegan returned Friday and put together a strong outing.

John Manuel released his first mock draft last Friday and he has LHP Brandon Finnegan going to the Cubs with the fourth pick but he thinks the Cubs “will consider Alex Jackson and Nick Gordon.” Jackson is high school catcher/outfielder from San Diego and Gordon is the high school shortstop from Florida, son of Tom ‘Flash’ Gordon and younger brother of Dee Gordon.

Jed Hoyer on the Draft

Jed Hoyer discussed the upcoming draft during his weekly spot on The Kap and Haugh Show (87.7 The Game) last Friday. Hoyer thinks it would benefit teams if the MLB Draft was structured like the NFL Draft in which teams could trade the picks in order to move up or down in the draft. Hoyer talked about how the players are evaluated and that a team is not drafting a player to fit a need but based on the career they think he will have.

Print“We have a little more of an interesting dynamic,” Hoyer explained compared to the NFL, “Because our players aren’t coming right to the big leagues. It underscores that much more you want to take the guy, the person whose career you feel best about in the end. We are not buying seasons or fits, we are buying careers. Given the fact that in the two, three, four years it takes for a player to develop so much can change as far as your needs. You could be on draft day and your starting pitching can be poor in the big leagues and you’re supposed to take a starting pitcher. You can look up and by the time that player gets there you could need offense. I do think you take the best player available. I think you do always factor in, though, at the same time, you might not always take the player with the absolute highest ceiling, because that player may have more risk. I think sometimes it is important to, not only factor in the player’s ceiling, but also the player’s probability. Those are probably the biggest discussions we have and try to balance those things out. Shooting the moon on a player with a high upside and low probability versus sometimes the player that has a higher floor. Those are the fascinating decisions we have to make.”

David Kaplan asked about Jeff Hoffman and if a team would still spend a high draft pick on him now that he’s had Tommy John surgery. Hoyer said he did not want to talk about Hoffman specifically because “he feels terrible for the kid.” Hoyer did not rule out a team selecting Hoffman high in the draft.

“In general we have a very thorough medical process in the draft. We have many people working on that, really all spring,” Hoyer said. “It’s really hard. I wish we had a combine like the NFL where we could go and get measurements and do MRIs and stuff like that. But, unfortunately we don’t. A lot of these players are still playing and still in season, so it is a little bit less exact. We try to do as much as we can to dig on the medical, to make sure we have a feel for it. I think there is plenty of examples of guys who have been taken high in the draft that were injured or recovering from injury. Sometimes that’s a good educated risk.”

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