Over the next two weeks, we're going to be providing you with profiles of 10 players the Cubs could take with the 13th overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft.
Who is He?
Nolan Ryan Schanuel is an aptly-named baseball player, but this Nolan stands out because of the damage he can do with a bat in his hands. Currently sitting at 29th on the Consensus Board, Schanuel will have his name called for the first time after spending three years raking for Florida Atlantic. He went undrafted out of high school.
Why the Cubs Will Draft Him
Schanuel's bat is special and that's why he will be in the conversation for those teams drafting outside of the top ten (or in some recent mock drafts, as early as #10). In three college seasons, Schanuel has drawn 138 walks while only striking out 57 times (including 71 walks and 14 strikeouts in 2023). Guys with that kind of handle on the strike zone don't often produce significant power when they do hit; Schanuel does. Of his 46 career long balls, 19 came in 2023 which helped support a .868 slugging percentage. Beyond that, he's put up excellent exit velocities. Stat-, eye- and analytic-driven teams should all come to the same conclusion: Dude can rake.
On the most recent Consensus Big Board, Jamie Cameron says the following:
We'll get this out the way, Schanuel is one of my favorite prospects in the entire draft class. A starter all three years at Florida Atlantic, he's raked since day one. In '23, Schanuel was the only hitter in college baseball, preventing Dylan Crews from the top of every statistical leaderboard. Schanuel's greatest strength is probably his elite approach at the plate. In '23, his average exit velocity exceeded 95 mph, his 90th percentile exit velocity exceeded 106 mph, and he rarely whiffs in the zone. Oh, not to mention 19 home runs, walking 36% of the time and striking out just 7%. You can ding him for being a first baseman and playing slightly weaker competition than some of his peers, but Schanuel is an elite hitter. I think he's a first round talent. You can worry about defensive positioning later.
Why the Cubs Won’t Draft Him
Almost every player projected to be a first baseman is going to get pushed toward the back half of the first round. On the whole, most first basemen get knocked down team's boards because all of their value is tied up in their bat, as they're already on the bottom rung of the defensive spectrum.
Teams normally just look past first baseman in the first round. And when they don't, they should. The last handful of first basemen drafted in the first round: Aaron Sabato (2020), Michael Toglia and Andrew Vaughn (2019) and Pavin Smith and Evan White (2016) have been disappointing at best, and relatively gross if we're being honest.
That's no knock on Schanuel, who could certainly buck the trend. But it is a trend, and teams have learned to allocate their assets better when it comes to making their first pick of the draft.
In 155 plate appearances in the wood-bat Cape Cod League last summer, Schanuel batted .200, struck out and walked 24 times each, and provided very little power (one home run, .272 SLG). So it's happened before - albeit in a 36-game sample. But if it happens again, there's no defensive value to speak of. That's quite a gamble at 13.
What do you think of Nolan Schanuel as a prospect? How would you feel about him being the Cubs pick at 13 overall? Join the discussion in the comments.
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