With the holiday weekend upon us, many schools opened play a day early this week,, but Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray didn't miss a beat. Meanwhile, in the high ranks, catcher Jonathan Denney continues to terrorize high school pitchers.
- LHP Sean Manaea lost his duel with another solid prospect Nick Petree, going 7.1 innings, allowing 6 hits and 2 runs. He walked 3 and struck out 5.
- Kris Bryant hit his 14th HR.
Some quick draft links...
- In case you missed it, Cubs Den contributor Kevin Gallo wrote a scouting report on another fast-rising high schooler, Austin Meadows, here yesterday.
- You may have seen some of Dan Kirby's work here, including our mock draft. Here's his own latest mock and it's a good one. He has Meadows going first and Appel going to the Cubs.
- Echoing what we wrote here, Jason Churchill of ESPN writes that there is no consensus that Mark Appel will go first overall but scouts seem to believe that he is almost certain to go in the first two picks.
- You may remember Patrick Mooney's piece from yesterday, in which Jason McLeod says, “If we go (the college pitching) route, hopefully our guy turns into that kind of guy (Justin Verlander). But if you look back at the draft, you’ll also see a lot of guys that went 1, 2, 3 that were pitchers and kind of just had mediocre careers. So pitching comes from everywhere. Typically, (with) your position players, the star guys come at the top of the draft.” It's hard to gauge what McLeod is saying here since draft time in any sport is a time for some disinformation. It could mean the Cubs have their eye on a college pitcher and are trying not to show their hand, but I think there is some truth here as well. It could be that if the Cubs don't get the arm they want, they'll go the safer route and take a hitter. We talked about Meadows yesterday and we'll talk about a few more hitters in the update as well. The Cubs say they have their eye on 4 different players for that 2nd pick.
- Mark Appel was dominant once again going 9 shutout innings and allowing just 4 hits. He walked one and struck out 10 in only 110 pitches and it was the 5th straight game where he has struck out double digit batters. He sustained 97 mph velocity from start to finish and also showed a plus slider and change, according to Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers. Appel has pitched 47 innings this year and has walked 8 and struck out 64. He has 4-2 record with a 0.96 ERA. For those that were worried he's been too easy to hit, he's allowed batters to hit just .161 this season.
- Jonathan Gray continues to match him start for start and his numbers overall this season are also very close. Gray once again hit 100 mph on multiple occasions. He went 9 innings and gave up one run on just two hits. He didn't walk a batter and struck out twelve. His improved command and physical fitness this year has been the difference. He has walked just 2 batters in his last 34 innings and has been able to sustain velocity deep into games. Overall on the season he is 5-1 with a 1.34 ERA. In 53.2 innings, Gray has walked just 9 while striking out 63.
- Kris Bryant continues to crush the baseball, going 3-5 with another HR. He's hit 13 HRs this season, just one less than he hit all of last year and we're only about halfway through the season. Overall Bryant is hitting .376/.540/1.204. That's a 1.744 OPS.
- Colin Moran was once considered a potential top 5 pick and a rival to Bryant for the best college bat in this draft, but a slow start had him falling out of the top 10. He's starting to heat up a little bit and is hitting .488 with 4 doubles with 4 HRs in his last 10 games. Even with his increased production, his draft status will depend on whether he can stay at 3B.
High school spotlight
- Jonathan Denney, C, has been slugging his way into what now seems like a sure top 10 selection, perhaps even top 5. He has 7 doubles, 4 triples, and 6 HRs over 13 games.