Today we will be taking a look at the Cubs second and third round picks from last Thursday’s MLB draft, Jake Stinnett and Mark Zagunis. According to Bleacher Report, players drafted in the second round have a 49% chance of making it to the big leagues, and for those drafted between the third and fifth rounds, their chance is 32%.
*The following are my own personal assessments and in no way represent the opinions of the Chicago Cubs organization
Mark Zagunis (3rd round, 78 overall) – C, 6’0”, 205 lbs – Virginia Tech (VT)
By the numbers Mark Zagunis, a junior out of Virginia Tech, was a solid selection by the Cubs in the third round. Zagunis can do it all. He led VT in batting (.330) and was second in doubles (10) and steals (16) and can play multiple positions. Zagunis was also a two-time all-ACC second team selection (2012, 2014), a Johnny Bench Award finalist (2014), and made the all-ACC academic team twice (2012, 2013). At the professional level, Zagunis does not project to be a stud, but I believe his versatility will make him into a very good backup catcher. Zagunis can do everything asked of a backup catcher; he is very solid defensively (although he does lack arm strength), he has a very accurate arm, and is an incredibly smart ball player. But what may add most to his value is the fact that he can play the outfield as well. This past season alone, Zagunis racked up a least one start at all three outfield spots for the Hokies. In addition, Zagunis puts the ball in play a lot. He struck out just 20 times in 209 plate appearances.
Drafting Zagunis in the third round may have been a reach for the Cubs because he doesn’t dominate in any particular facet of the game but he is as close to a sure thing as you can get, from a projectability standpoint. And for a team that lacks depth at catcher, Zagunis was a good pick up for the Cubs.
Projection: Zagunis will be a solid major league backup catcher. He will always intrigue general managers because of his intelligence and maturity combined with his ability to put the ball in play and field multiple positions. Expect him to hit between .240 and .260 with about five homeruns off the bench year in and year out.
Jake Stinnett, a senior out of Maryland, was a good pick for the Cubs in the second round of last Thursday’s draft. Stinnett, the first pitcher taken by the Cubs, features a mid-90’s sinking fastball and a plus slider, as well as a developing change up. Originally a two-way player for the Terps, Stinnett only started pitching full time as a junior. The fact that he was able to dominate with such little experience as a full-time pitcher is one of the reasons the Cubs selected him so high in the draft. This past season, Stinnett posted a 2.67 ERA in 17 appearances (16 starts) and led his team in ERA, complete games (4), innings pitched (118), strikeouts (132) and opponent batting average (.195). These results, combined with his lack of experience as a pitcher (relatively speaking) means that he has a much higher ceiling than most senior pitchers. Having spent a majority of his innings in the field during his first two years of college (and in high school) have kept Stinnett from racking up dangerous inning totals that cause significant damage to young pitcher’s arms down the road.
I think Stinnett was a great pick for the Cubs because of his high ceiling and because they will probably be able to save some money on his signing bonus; graduating seniors tend to have lower bonuses because they don’t have the much leverage in negotiations (i.e. going back to school). Also, Stinnett’s pitching style plays well in any ballpark, particularly Wrigley Field. His sinking fastball will dominate hitters in the brutally cold early-spring and late-fall months and keep hitters in side the park during the homerun-friendly summer months.
Projection: If Stinnett can develop his changeup into a plus pitch he could turn out to be a number 2 or 3 starter at the big league level. Without the change up he looks to be a back end starter or a bullpen piece. But either way, I like his potential as a pitcher, I like that he’s a smart kid (college grad & ACC all-academic team) and I expect him to be in the Cubs rotation by the end of 2016 sporting an ERA in the neighborhood of 3.80-4.20 for his career.Tags: 2nd round, 3rd round, Baseball, catcher, Chicago, Chicago Cubs, Jake Stinnett, Mark Zagunis, MLB, mlb draft, pitcher, RHP, University of Maryland, Virginia Tech