MLB Draft 2022: Why Cubs' focus for No. 7 pick is fluid

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MLB Draft preview: Why Cubs' focus for No. 7 pick fluid originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

When perusing different evaluators’ 2022 MLB Mock Drafts, you’ll find varying opinions on whom the Cubs could select with the No. 7 overall pick on Sunday.

Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada? Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee? How about a high school player?

Sunday is an opportunity for the Cubs to add another premier prospect to their up-and-coming farm system, a process that remains fluid. They’re keeping an open mind on who they could pick, whether that player can be part of the “next great Cubs team” sooner or later.

“It's too imprecise to try to time the selection of a draft pick with a team’s competitive window,” Cubs VP of scouting Dan Kantrovitz said.

“If it ends up being a toolsier high school player that we draft that requires a little bit more time, then we have the infrastructure to handle it.

“If it ends up being a college player that is projected to get [to the majors] a little quicker, then I think we’ll be equally happy.”

The Cubs have experienced both sides of that coin over the last decade, drafting in the top 10 in five straight seasons — four during the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer front office era.

After drafting Albert Almora Jr. sixth overall out of high school in 2012, the Epstein-Hoyer regime selected college hitters the next three years: Kris Bryant (No. 2), Kyle Schwarber (No. 4) and Ian Happ (No. 9) — all of whom debuted within two years of their selections.

“I think it's been widely publicized that the ‘strength’ of the draft class is a lot of high school hitters that are projected to go high,” said Kantrovitz, who played it coy when asked for his read on specific prospects. “Whether that comes to fruition or not, time will tell.

“But I think as it’s unfolded, there's probably been more pitchers that have percolated to the top of teams’ draft boards. I think it probably ends up reverting back to where we started this spring, which was there's a lot of high school hitters that are projected to go pretty high.”

One unique difference between this draft and those during the last Cubs rebuild is its timing. The 2021 draft was the first ever held in July.

It means teams are getting data and evaluations before the draft they previously did not. Kantrovitz cited the summer college leagues and high school showcases currently taking place.

“I think it underscores the fact that you just have to remain open minded up until the very point where you have to make a decision,” Kantrovitz said.

The Cubs cast a wide net in their player evaluations earlier this spring to thoroughly evaluate the player field.

But one attribute Kantrovitz said they put “a lot” of emphasis on is player makeup — whether through interviewing players or conducting at-home visits to meet with their parents or calling their coaches.

“It takes a special person to succeed out here at Wrigley Field,” Kantrovitz said.

“We put a lot of weight on that, because we have to really make sure that we understand the person and what motivates them and how they think," Kantrovitz added. "That’s also an inexact science.

"But I think the more that we can put into it, the more that we can be sure that it's something that we're confident we know who we're drafting."

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