Cubs draft: Who will be next big star on the North Side in MLB Draft?

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Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber have already made their names known to Cubs fans.

The former first-round picks will have new company soon. The Cubs have the ninth overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft, which begins at 6 p.m. Monday.

Three of the four most recent mock drafts point to the Cubs taking a college pitcher with their pick, much like the White Sox are projected to do.

The Cubs have taken position players with their first pick in each of the last four drafts. Will this be the year the Cubs add a top-of-the-line pitcher?

ESPN’s Keith Law says he’s primarily heard the Cubs linked to hitters, but if Illinois left-hander Tyler Jay is on the board at No. 9, Chicago will bite.

I’ve mostly heard them being interested in hitters, including Benintendi, Ian Happ and Trenton Clark, but Jay may be the one exception if he makes it to this pick, as he could probably help their major league club this year, yet still project as a starter in the long run.

Jay is projected to go somewhere in the top 10. Baseball America has him as high as No. 3, and Law’s placement of him at No. 9 represents his floor.

Baseball America pegs the Cubs to take right-hander Jon Harris out of Missouri State at No. 9. Unlike Law, the website believes the Cubs to be interested in pitchers. Perhaps some misdirection by the front office?

The Cubs have surprised the last couple of drafts, taking hitters over pitchers, but industry chatter is that they will go for an arm this year. The latest chatter is for Jon Harris of Missouri State, but they have checked in on Tate late and could be in on him here as well. Harris, though, is a better bet to start.

Sports Illustrated likes Carson Fulmer for the Cubs at No. 9, which would appear to be about as low as the prospect will go. Law and BA have Fulmer going eighth to the Sox, and MLB.com has him seventh to the Red Sox. He’s also in the discussion for teams in the top five.

As proof of the adage that you don’t draft for need in baseball, the Cubs are widely thought to be looking hard at position players here, and players like Kyle Tucker, Benintendi (if available) and Cincinnati’s Ian Happ could well be in play. But the hard-throwing Fulmer might prove too tempting for Chicago, despite mechanics that many feel will eventually land him in the bullpen.

MLB.com’s Jim Callis was the only draft analyst to back up the rumblings of a position player to the Cubs with his pick. He projects Andrew Benintendi, an outfielder out of Arkansas, to go to the Cubs.

Though the Cubs have a more obvious need for pitching, they’re linked to more bats than arms. Unless one of the top college arms gets to No. 9, Chicago appears to be targeting Benintendi and Cincinnati outfielder Ian Happ over Harris. They also have spent a lot of time evaluating high school outfielders such as Cameron, Tucker and Richland High’s (North Richland Hills, Texas) Trenton Clark.

Here’s a more in-depth scouting report from MLB.com on Benintendi:

Teams who like college hitters who perform, especially in competitive conferences, will undoubtedly be giving Benintendi a long look at Arkansas. The Razorbacks’ Draft-eligible sophomore has certainly raised his stock with his performance at the plate this spring. The outfielder has a smooth swing from the left side of the plate, showing the ability to consistently barrel up balls and make consistently hard contact. Not known for his power previously, the Cincinnati native has added some strength and was among the nation’s leaders in home runs this season. Benintendi has plus speed, which should allow him to be a basestealing threat and stick in center field. Benintendi does have some leverage as a sophomore, but most around Little Rock feel he’s going to be drafted early enough to forego his junior season at Arkansas.

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