MLB Draft Preview: Baseball America's top 100 college list shows change in top 3

MLB Draft Preview: Baseball America's top 100 college list shows change in top 3

A couple of weeks ago, we covered BA's top 100 H.S. list, but when it comes to the Cubs first pick, the #2 pick overall, BA's top 100 college list may be more relevant.  Well, at least the top 3 players on it.

And there's a change in that top 3.

LHP Sean Manaea of Indiana State has vaulted past Ryan Stanek and is now the #2 prospect behind Mark Appel.  A 4th pitcher, Jonathan Crawford, ranks #5 on the list and is considered a fast riser, though right now he's expected to be picked after 3 or 4 position players:  Georgia high schoolers Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier, North Carolina 3B Colin Moran, considered the best pure hitter in the draft, and perhaps 1B-OF Kris Bryant, who may have the best power.

It seems certain that when the draft rolls around the Cubs will have their pick of two of these pitchers, perhaps all 4 if the Astros opt for one of the two star Georgia high school outfielders instead.

Mark Appel

Though Appel has maintained his position as the top college player, and likely the best player overall, it's unlikely Houston will take him with the first pick.  Houston had the opportunity last year and passed when Appel reportedly would not accept a pre-arranged deal.  As often happens in that case, Appel dropped as teams feared they wouldn't be able to sign the big RHP.  He was eventually picked at #8 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but did not sign.

Sean Manaea

As for Manaea, Aaron Fitt said in his chat that he reminds him of a young Chris Sale.  Manaea pitches with a mid to upper 90s fastball and,a pretty good change-up.  If the slider comes around, he looks like a 3 pitch guy with at least two plus pitches.  Jonathan Mayo of thinks Manaea's slider, which may be more of a hard slurve, is an effective pitch, but he does have concerns with Manaea's pitchability.  I think that's interesting because that is high on former amateur scouting director Tim Wilken's list.  It remains to be seen if Jason McLeod feels the same way or how much influence Wilken has if either or both agree with Mayo's assessment on pitchability.

Ryan Stanek

Not everyone thinks Manaea is the #2 guy.  Mayo has Ryan Stanek in the 2nd spot and Manaea down at #5.  Mayo believes Stanek to be the more polished pitcher and great stuff, includinga mid 90s fastball and a plus slider.  However, our man at the scene Kevin Gallo said that Manaea made huge strides at the Cape Cod League and that he has already looked a lot more polished. There are also some concerns with Stanek, including his command and delivery, enough so that some scouts believe he could end up being a reliever.

Beyond the first round

If you want to see who might be available in the 2nd round, that's a little hard to gauge, but there are a slew of college pitchers who may be available by the time the Cubs pick, which should come earlier than last year's pick because their figures to be less comp picks.  One interesting name that might be available is former McLeod first round pick, RHP Karsten Whitson. Whitson was the #9 pick overall in 2010 but did not sign.  His stock has since dropped because of arm troubles and a loss of velocity.

If they've soured on Whitson or he isn't available, there should be plenty of college pitching to choose from.  After Whitson, 20 of the next 23 best college players are pitchers.  That group includes a trio of LHPs, an area the Cubs could be looking to shore up in their system.  The first is Trevor Williams, a big pitcher with a mid 90s fastball and full repertoire, yet doesn't miss enough bats for scouts' taste.  Another LHP in that range, Kevin Ziomek, impressed at the Cape Cod League with a good change and solid command to go with an average fastball.  My favorite LHP, however, may be Tom Windle (Minnesota).  He's the complete package, 93-94 mph fastball, slider, change, good control and good pitchability.

You've heard me say that this is a weak draft, and it is, but it is not weak in college pitching and though there are no elite high school pitchers like Dylan Bundy or Lucas Giolito, there is some depth in the high school ranks as well.  High school catchers are also a deep crop.  Those are three big areas of need for the Cubs and the areas where the draft is weak: 2B, SS, and CF, are positions of strength in the Cubs organization.  So while this draft may not be a particularly strong one, it could play right into Jason McLeod's hands.

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  • What's the chances of the Cubs getting Appel under the max amount since he can't use going back to school as leverage?

  • In reply to irish0625:

    I think he's going to want something over $6M to make up for turning that down last June. He has Boras and he's the best player out there, so they have some leverage too. Boras isn't above taking a guy to an Indy League rather than sign for an amount he thinks is too low for his client. The good news is Theo seems to have a good relationship with him.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Hasn't Appel lost some leverage though? Last year, he could decline the offer and go back to Stanford. This year, the only option is Independent Ball...and won't teams be scared to take him? If they signal a hard line, it will mean he slips again, which in turn means teams have less money available to sign him. So it goes.

    There is a bit of game theory going on with the new CBA rules

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Always a bit of game theory when it comes to negotiations and the new CBA has made it even more interesting.

    He has lost leverage, but he still has some leverage in that he's the consensus best player in the draft. He still has the option of going to an independent league. It may not be as much as he had before, but I expect Boras to take this leverage and stretch to it's absolute limit. If he doesn't get right around the max, I'll be surprised, though pleasantly so.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I wonder if Boras negotiations would change if a club drafted 2 or more of his clients to play one against the other? Would he still look at maxing out a contract if it meant the others wouldn't be able to sign and lose a year?

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    In reply to John Arguello:


    Other than JD Drew what players that have turned down a contract out of the draft and gone to indy league have done anything of value at the ML level? (Matt Harrington & Bobby Hill come to mind) Not sure if that's causal but it sure doesn't bode well.

    If I was advising Appel I'd advise against that.

  • john, is there any fear of the miles on Mark Appel arm or does every thing check out. If there is fear do the cubs go with Manaea .

  • In reply to seankl:

    No fears as of now. As far as Manaea goes, I think they'd take him if Houston didn't take him #1.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I do have a fear about miles on Appel's arm. Last year when I saw him he threw over 140 thru the 8th and came back out for the 9th. So I have some concerns.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    Manaea also had some high pitch counts. Nature of the business in college sometimes.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think understand my concern. It is another year of that type of mileage on his arm that worries me.

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    How ironic is that after all the sound and fury of last year the Astros get another bit at Appel -- when he has substantially less leverage.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Boras can make a little leverage go a long way. If he's not a tough sign again, I'll be surprised.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Does Appel have to be drafted? Or is he fair game when he turns 23 like the Cuban players?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ha! That would be a Scott Boras dream!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    This is tangentially related, but the more I look at Clint Frazier, the more I think the Cubs shouldn't dismiss the idea out of hand. I'm not completely sold on any of the college pitchers, and the Cubs are lacking impact bats in the corners almost as much as they're lacking impact pitching. (Soler and then you almost have to put Shoulders second.)

    I love that Frazier generates his power with bat speed, and may have the tools for center, which would make him one of the better defensive left fielders in the game.

    Obviously, he'd be part of the 3rd or 4th wave -- probably 2018 arrival date -- but he could be a big addition to the core down the road.

    On the other hand, we still have one more season for all of these guys to audition.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Whereas I agree with you, Mike, that the Cubs shouldn't dismiss the idea of taking someone like Frazier or Meadows out of hand, I do disagree that the Cubs are lacking impact bats at the corners. One of them is already manning first base in the bigs. Rizzo, to me, counts as an impact bat and no three players have more impactful bats in the Cubs system than Baez, Soler and Vogelbach, all of whom (considering Baez's ability to play third) profile at corner positions.

    None of them are guaranteed to star in the bigs, and it would always be nice to have more impact bats at any position. But, from where I sit, the only impact bats I see in the Cubs organization are in the corners.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    I meant corner outfielders. That was unclear. You're right, they are in very good shape for corner infielders. But if Soler fails, Baez is the only reasonable choice in the minors to play right or left.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think Frazier is a heck of a ballplayer. Very impressed with his bat speed and power at the UA game. Not a huge guy but hit one out to LF with the wind howling in from that direction.

    Just a hunch but I think if Wilken was in charge, he'd make a big push for him.

    Still, hard to imagine the Cubs passing up a pitcher when they're also rated as the top 3 players in the draft. Frazier rates high in this draft, but according to Aaron Fitt he would have went behind Almora if both were eligible at the same time.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    True that. I guess what I'm saying is that I hope the Cubs pick the best player available. If they feel that's Frazier, I don't want them to pass on him just because there are well thought of arms there. If they think one of the pitchers (or, perhaps more likely, someone we aren't even talking about yet because they haven't had their breakout senior season) is BPA, then definitely take him.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No doubt. If the Cubs think Frazier is better than whatever college pitchers are left to him, then they should take him. I think there are some intriguing pitchers that will be available in rounds 2 and 3.

  • So, million dollar question - if Appel's there at #2, will we take him?

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Unless he is far and away better than the remaining options, I look for it to boil to money. I fully expect (he strong possibility that) the top option will be offered an amount below slot, but marginally above third slot money. If declined, the next similar candidate will be offered a similar amount.

  • In reply to tim815:

    I wouldn't assume the Cubs will take Houston's strategy.

    The Cubs went with a Boras client and the player they felt was the BPA last year in Almora. They knew it would take most of the bonus to sign him.

    This is the MLB draft, where you are lucky if you get just one impact player. If you think there's a guy there at #2 that's that kind of player, you have to take him. The only scenario where the Cubs take this strategy is if they feel there is little difference between 2-3 players and frankly, that scenario doesn't excite me. I'd rather it be one guy who they absolutely love and think will be an impact player. If they hit on just that one, then that will make it a great draft by itself.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    It's all about BPA. If they think that's the case with Appel, I think they'll take him.

  • Since they may never draft his high again, they have to draft a
    can't miss player. In my mind it is not a pitcher.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    There is no such player.

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    There is no such thing as a can't miss player.

    I think when a team is drafting at the top of the draft and have such a glaring need for pitching, they need to take a pitcher (unless the top pitchers are graded so much lower than the top hitters it becomes a massive reach). A top college pitcher would be perfect, they could slide into the rotation hopefully in 2014 at some point and already be in place in 2015 as we start our climb back to contender. Drafting a hitter just leaves a gaping hole at SP.

    Most years/picks teams shouldn't draft for need and instead take the best player, but if the scouts feel the players are similar grades, can contribute quickly in the majors, still have a high ceiling, and we have a major need right now, drafting for that position makes a lot more sense than taking a hitter.

    So in my mind, Appel or Manaea are the most logical choices, and picking 2nd, we're guaranteed to get one.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I'm assuming what you mean here is the player with the highest floor/ceiling combination in the draft. You don't want to miss, so a high floor is important. I also know you favor position players. So I think the player that is one of the more likely to make it to the majors in that regard is UNC 3B Colin Moran. You'd get as close to sure a MLB'er as you can get in the draft, but you'd have to sacrifice some ceiling with a pick like that.

    Even though he's a pitcher, that's why I think Appel has to be strongly considered. Pitchers are always riskier, but there's more ceiling with Appel than with Moran right now.

  • I still think Manaea is the way to go. Leftys with his tools are rare. I wouldn't mind one of the two Georgia HS outfielders either if they are the BPA. Taking another lefty with the 2nd pick could be good. Last year all but one of the early pitchers taken were RHs. But I am not too worried because we have Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod/Bush doing our picking.

  • In reply to John57:

    LHP is a rarity and Manaea is rising fast. I think there's a chance he goes #1 to Houston. I think the interesting scenario for the Cubs pops up if Houston takes Stanek or one of the HS OF'ers. We'll find out a lot about what the Cubs think at that point.

  • Boreas didn't do Appel a service with his extortion approech. What organization would want to deal with that.

  • Happy Non-Tender Day! Should be eventful.

  • Really waiting to see what happens with Ian Stewart.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    When do you anticipate names becoming public John, thanks!

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    I think they'll trickle in throughout the day but my guess is late afternoon. Cubs in no hurry to make Stewart decision, exploring all options.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree, John. There will be some interesting FAs out there after today. I believe the deadline is 11 p.m. Chicago Standard Time. Also, MLBTR is keeping track with their Non-Tender Tracker.

  • The thing to remember with Manaea is that he didn't just do well in the Cape this past summer, he DOMINATED! Throwing mostly his FB & Change-up, his slider was very inconsistent. When that pitch is on, he's practically un-hittable.

    Still lots of time before draft day.... if he continues to develop and show some improvement/consistency with that Slider, I don't see how he's not #1 on most draft boards.

    While we won't actually know the scorecard for this draft until 2018. It's nice to finally have some confidence in our FO to select & develop the right players.....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think that's possible, too, but unless the Astros are going to try to play two-for-one again (possible), it means we likely don't get a chance to draft him.

  • I voted for Manaea the 1st time around because he was a top rated lhp and may be easier to sign. Could he project as a no. 1 or 2 rotation starter?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Absolutely. It's all about consistency with the breaking pitch, command, and developing that feel for pitching. Some feel he's more of a thrower right now and doesn't have a feel for how to approach hitters. Some, not all. The only opinion that matters on that is the Cubs front office.

  • Tom Windle's brother Sam played hockey for the Chicago Steel in Bensenville during the first half of the 2010/11 season.

    If he's anything like his brother on and off the field, trust me, you want him in the organization. I've got one of Sam's jerseys sitting in storage right now.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Very cool. Nice tidbit.

  • I think Manaea's lack of pitch ability is grossly over stated. I almost never agree with Mayo on his amateur scouting. Considering as such a hard break on his slurve (which is a slider most often then not) that it would only take a minor adjustment to make it more consistent. I also see his change up becoming a plus pitch. I see him becoming stepping up once the season starts. I will have a scouting report for him once the season starts.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    He did say some scouts, not all of them, have questions about his pitchability. So it's definitely not a clear cut thing. There appears to be a mixed opinion where some scouts think he's more of a thrower right now.

  • id like to see the cubs pick manaea, stud lefties are rare and if the cubs believe that this kid is a top of the rotation caliber pitcher than they should take him. i dont like the idea of picking appel, hes overused so theres a real good chance that he throws his arm out early in his career and i find it extremely hard to believe that whoever signs him wont be going overslot. i think hes a very talented pitcher, but the way he handled himself during last years draft just really didnt make me think that he has the makeup the cubs like. if he was a viewed as a once in a generation strasburg/harper type of prospect i wouldnt really care, but hes really not anything close.

    as for draft strategy id love for the cubs to take a pitcher with the #2 pick, but im all for the bpa.
    id also like them to take a pitcher in the second round, but id be okay if they reached for one of those highly touted high school catchers. im just really hoping they take a catcher in the first 3 rounds because itd be really nice to have someone pushing castillo for his spot and it doesnt seem like the cubs have someone like that right now.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Manaea is very intriguing and I think he's got a real shot to pass up Appel next spring. Want to point out that he's had some pretty high pitch counts too, similar to Appel if memory serves. Will have to go back and check.

  • Pitchers get overuse injuries similar to distance runners. Stress + rest = a conditioned arm or legs. Cheating on that always leads to a breakdown. It's physiology and should be factored into the draft. The breaking point varies individually, but if one keeps pushing it will be found.

  • John, I'm guessing that we'll take a catcher in the second round. Who do you think might be available?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    There are quite a few good HS catchers. If you click on the high school link at the beginning of the article, there is list of about 10-12 who could be available from the 2nd - 5th round.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I was looking at that but I don't have a BA subscription, so I don't know if there are as many in the college ranks than in high school.

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    Angels acquired Tommy Hanson from the braves for Jordan Walden. Thoughts? I cannot fathom why the braves would make this deal, unless something big was on the horizon.

    Hanson was once a top pitching prospect and I've heard he's lost velo but this still seems like too much given up for a reliever, which is already a strength for them.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Injuries, declining velocity and arbitration eligibility.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Braves have deep starting pitching prospects coming up.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I was surprised. Ray summed it up pretty well, but I still think that's a pretty nice haul by the Angels. The Braves grow pitchers like Iowa grows corn, so i'm sure they'll recover.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hoping you say something similar about Cubs and pitchers in a couple years.

  • In reply to John57:

    Hoping that Iowa/corn analogy works for the Cubs too....but without the drought. We've had enough drought, both of pitchers and of wins !

  • The Kansas City guy who won part of the large Powerball lottery, used Royals baseball uniform numbers.

    5 (George Brett), 6 (Willie Wilson), 16 (Bo Jackson), 22 (Dennis Leonard), 23 (Mark Gubizca) and 29 (Dan Quisenberry).

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Cub fans could try that. Were there numbers on uniforms the last time the team won the World Series?

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    No, they didn't have numbers on their uni's in 1906.

    The Yankees were the first team to have numbers and that was in 1929.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    I will say a few other teams experimented with uniform numbers on various areas of the jersey going as far back as 1907, but didn't make them permanent until the '29 Yankees.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    I also read that the AL mandated jersey numbers on away uniforms in 1931, but the A's were the last team to finally put numbers on their home jerseys as well, in 1937. NL teams were all in compliance by sometime in late 1932.

  • It has been so long since the Cubs won a World Series, that numbers did not exist on uniforms....ha ha ha

    Just try a 6 number combination of last two digits of years of world series the Cubs were in.

    06 - 07 - 08 - 29 - 32 -35 - 38 - 45

    Or play the last five Cubs uniform numbers of who went into the HOF


  • Don't be surprise if Garza gets traded......

    whoever picks him up, can get a draft pick if they offer him a deal after 2013 and Garza refuses........

    Tigers might throw the dice on a deal for Garza, Soriano, Barney & Marmol, with lots of $$$ to pay off Soriano's contract , and Cubs get back Peralta, Porcello, Castellanos, Garcia.

    Or the Tigers can watch other A.L. Playoff bound teams get these Cubs players by next July.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    I doubt anyone will trade for Garza until he proves he's healthy. The Cubs have until opening day to trade him and teams can still get draft pick compensation. Once opening day starts they can't get compensation and his value declines. Best case scenario he looks healthy in spring training and some team bites, but that's probably not very likely.

  • Cubs will be under roster limit by the end of the day. There could be two guys NT'd, which would mean both Ian Stewart AND Luis Valbuena. Either they're going to re-sign one or they're confident they can get an everyday 3B.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Aren't we at 40 now, or did we pick someone else up after Feldman?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I hope they hold onto Valbuena. I'm afraid that his performance in the winter leagues will make him a lot more attractive.

  • does anyone know when hoyer spoke today, and for what website ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    Was following it on Twitter. The information from Miles is from that. Also said no untouchables on the team, but a few guys they'd have a really difficult time trading. Guess is Castro, Shark, Castro and the big 3 prospects.

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