Chicago Cubs 2020 MLB Draft Primer

While baseball still hasn’t arrived and we all play the waiting game, the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft is upon us this week, starting Wednesday evening. The 2020 Draft begins at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT) with live coverage on MLB Network and ESPN. The Draft will also stream live on

The first night of the Draft spans picks 1-37 — the first round and Competitive Balance Round A.

The Draft resumes with the start of the second round at 5 p.m. ET (4 p.m. CT) on MLB Network and ESPN2, plus live streaming online at

The five round draft is a direct result of Major League Baseball front offices looking to save money where they can during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and will save teams $29.58 million in bonuses.

The five-round draft will have 160 picks, which will be an 87-percent reduction in the number of picks from the 2019 draft, where 1,217 players were selected.

Here’s every pick for the Cubs in this year’s shortened five-round draft, with the bonus assigned for each slot. Teams can also sign an unlimited amount of undrafted free agents for up to $20,000 (previously, undrafted signees were able to sign for bonuses of up to $125,000 without the signing team incurring pool penalties), beginning on June 13.

  1. Round 1, Pick 16 – $3,745,500
  2. Round 2, Pick 51 – $1,436,900
  3. Round 3, Pick 88 – $678,600
  4. Round 4, Pick 117 – $492,700
  5. Round 5, Pick 147 – $367,900

The Cubs are in an interesting position heading into this year’s version of the MLB Draft, with the bulk of their core up for either extensions or free-agency in the next two years, their window to try to add another World Series is rapidly closing.

Their weakness at the major-league level — and down on the farm — is pitching, so one would be inclined to believe that those two factors would have the Cubs going pitching-heavy in this week’s 2020 MLB Draft.

As The Dugout contributor Daniel Shepard highlighted in detail in his early draft preview, new Cubs’ draft lead Dan Kantrovitz has a history of targeting collegiate arms in the first round. Some of those include  Michael WachaLuke WeaverMarco Gonzales and Jack Flaherty, and more recently A.J. Puk with the A’s in 2016.

Shepard pointed to Oklahoma right-hander Cade Cavalli as a likely fit for the Cubs at No. 16.

As an Oklahoma product and native, Cavalli shares a relationship with the Cubs’ 2018 sixth round draft selection Kohl Franklin. Franklin, who was committed to Oklahoma before the Cubs took him out of Broken Arrow High School, now calls himself a neighbor of Cavalli’s.

Standing six-foot-four, Baseball America’s scouting report gives Cavalli’s fastball 70-grade velocity as he often runs it up into the mid- to upper-90s. He pairs that with a slider that might be his best offering as well as a changeup and curveball that are average to slightly above average.

At No. 16, Chicago may miss out on Cavalli who is slowly but surely ascending up draft boards, but a slew of collegiate arms exists for the Cubs to find their man.

You can read Daniel Shepard’s full profile on Cade Cavalli, here.

Another possibility for the Cubs if they choose to go the route of the college arm is Auburn’ right-hander, Tanner Burns.

Tanner Burns might not have an imposing physical frame, but don’t let that fool you. Standing 6’0″ tall, Burns clocks in consistently with a low-to-mid 90’s fastball, a pitch that plays up because he can locate it with ease — and also rev it up when he needs it.

Burns displays neither the physical stature nor the electric stuff that scouts rave about, so while he doesn’t project as a top-of-rotation starter, he is an established arm with a high pedigree. Burns, therefore, is a safe pick: a high floor starting prospect that could quickly elevate through the minors.

Photo credit: Wade Rackley, Auburn Athletics

You can read Austin Bloomberg’s full profile on Tanner Burns, here.

If the Cubs are inclined to take a risk on a high school pitcher, Jared Kelley is a perfect fit.

Jared Kelley is a classic power righty out of the prep ranks, with one significant deviation: he’s incredibly polished for an 18 year old flame thrower. An easy, fluid delivery with a fastball already sitting in the upper-90’s, Kelley’s repeatable mechanics flash the ability to have plus-command in his career.

That heater is complimented with a plus change, a rarity for such a young, power arm to already have mastered. His change generates plenty of whiffs, and sits in the low-80’s with good arm action. An outstanding student, Kelley also demonstrates poise and humility, character traits that align with how the front office assesses players.

The biggest caveat here is that in addition to impact, the Cubs need a pitcher that can rise quickly through the minors. While that’s typically a trajectory reserved for established college arms, Kelley’s demeanor, easy mechanics, and solid frame grant him the chance to fly through the lower levels of the minors.

His status as a prep arm shouldn’t impact the Cubs interest in selecting him.

Photo: Courtney Sacco, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

You can read Austin Bloomberg’s full profile on Jared Kelley, here.

Regardless of which arm is there for the Cubs at No. 16, it seems like a safe bet that the Cubs will look to invest heavily in pitching during the 2020 MLB Draft this week.

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