As the 2020 MLB Draft approaches this evening, the Cubs are in a position for the first time in a handful of years, to draft an impact talent in the middle of the first round. A number of quality players should be available at #16 for the Cubs, and we will examine those prospects here.
Ed Howard, SS – Mount Carmel HS
Ed Howard is a local product from Chicago, attending Mount Carmel High School and is the 15th ranked prospect according to MLB.com. He starred on the famous Jackie Robinson West little league team in 2014, and is committed to play his college ball at the University of Oklahoma.
According to the draft experts, Howard has all the tools to stay at SS at the major league level. He is a good base runner, and has a very smooth, right-handed swing. His power is still developing, but if he puts on more muscle, he could develop some decent power.
Although the Cubs have Javier Baez at SS, it doesn't hurt to draft a possible replacement. Howard is only 18 years old, so he would need a few years in the minor leagues to develop his game. He would be a nice heir to Baez at the position down the road, and everyone from Chicago loves a hometown product. Howard makes a lot of sense if he's available at #16.
Garrett Crochet, LHP – University of Tennessee
Crochet is something that the Cubs do not have enough of, a big, left-handed pitcher to develop into a big league starter. Brailyn Marquez is expected to become a solid starting rotation piece in the near future, but the Cubs have an aging pitching staff and not enough young talent to replace them. Crochet would help solidify that pipeline with a college arm who will be big league ready much sooner than a high school arm.
Crochet is 6'6" and tops out between 97-100mph with his fastball. Per MLB.com, Crochet has an above average slider and changeup, but his fastball is by far is best pitch, scoring a 65 on the 20-80 scale. Crochet was originally drafted by the NL Central rival Brewers in the 34th round in 2017, but has a great chance to become a first round pick for the Cubs Wednesday night.
Big lefties are hard to come by, so if Crochet is available at #16 (which is possible as he's the 18th ranked prospect) the Cubs should strongly consider the big lefty. His one knock is his command. If he can develop his command in the Cubs system, he could be a mid-rotation piece for the Cubs in the future.
Austin Hendrick, OF – West Allegheny HS (PA)
Hendrick is a bit of a polarizing prospect. On one hand, he may have the best raw power in the 2020 Draft class, on another hand, he may swing and miss like an Adam Dunn. Hendrick has great pop from the left side of the plate, has solid speed to play center field, but an arm to play right field. However, his one hang up is the uptick in strikeouts this past season.
The 13th ranked prospect and Mississippi State commit has the opportunity to become a heck of an MLB player. Per MLB.com, it seems that many scouts agree that he will reach his ceiling. With some work on his plate discipline, he could cut down the strikeouts and build himself into a complete power hitter.
Hendrick could become a nice heir apparent to Jason Heyward in right field. He has the arm, the athleticism, and the power to be a dominant right fielder at the big league level in a few years. The Cubs have also had success developing position players, so this feels like a decent bet.
Other Names to Watch
The Cubs have also been tied to players such as Robert Hassell, Mick Abel, Garrett Mitchell, and Tyler Soderstrom. The 16th, 11th, 6th, and 19th ranked prospects, respectively, have all been linked to the Cubs, along with the three players profiled above.
Its unlikely that Mitchell or Abel will be there at #16, but there is a solid chance that the others will be available. The real question for the Cubs becomes, pitcher or position player, and do they want a high school player or college player?
The fans will learn who the new Cubs top 10 prospect will be tonight. The 2020 MLB Draft begins at 6:00 p.m. CDT and the Cubs will likely pick around 7:30 p.m. CDT.