The Chicago Cubs‘ biggest organizational need entering the 2014 MLB Draft was catching, and they have now selected two catchers in the first three rounds after taking Virginia Tech catcher Mark Zagunis in Round Three.
Zagunis has a line-drive swing that should allow him to hit for average in the pros, and he also possesses plus speed which has allowed him to play both catcher and in the outfield for Virginia Tech. He led the Hokies in hitting in 2014 with a .330 average while also leading his team with the lowest strikeout rate at just 9.5 percent and was second on the team in steals and walks, although there have been questions as to whether he can stay at catcher long-term.
For the Cubs to take Zagunis in Round 3, the assumption is that they believe he can stay at catcher. The Cubs have now selected three straight college prospects, and their draft so far seems to be oriented on safer picks capable of moving quickly through the system.
It’s difficult to scout high school players as their competition level is often indistinguishable, leading to more guesswork when evaluating talent. By drafting college players in C/OF Kyle Schwarber out of Indiana, RHP Jake Stinnett out of Maryland and now Zagunis, the Cubs have a long track record with each player and have seen them play against top college competition.
While the Cubs clearly have an organizational need for pitching, a lack of quality catchers in the minor leagues was an even more pressing need. After selecting position players with two of their first three picks, though, it will be surprising if the Cubs do not use the vast majority of their upcoming picks on pitchers.