Well this is really coming down to two players for the top two picks. There are reasons to like Mark Appel and there are reasons to like Jonathan Gray, but it's getting harder and harder to imagine you wouldn't be happy with either one of them.
- Keith Law drew up his top 50 and in it he says that Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray are the clear #1 and #2 in this draft -- and in that order. Some interesting rankings include Texas high school fireballer Kohl Stewart at #5. He has Austin Meadows (3) ahead of Clint Frazier (8) but thinks Frazier will get picked first. Sean Manaea is #4. Top college hitter Colin Moran is on the rise again (.396/.510/.644 with 9 HRs) and Law has him 12th, but think he could go top 5 if a team thinks he can stick at 3B, which he should. In case you're wondering, Kris Bryant is Law's 6th ranked player. Bryant hit his 18th HR of the year last night. Coming into that game, he had a slash line of .341/.517/.849.
- Depending on where you pick and what you want, there are quite a few tough decisions to make in this draft: Appel or Gray? Meadows or Frazier? Moran or Bryant? There may also be a race to be the 3rd pitcher taken: Manaea, Stanek, or fast rising Braden Shipley...or maybe prep arm Kohl Stewart? It looks like the Cubs will probably have their choice made for them, though they still could consider a few players. They are said to be looking at 5 to 6 guys right now.
- Mark Appel faced Arizona and had a bit of a bumpy start, giving up 3 runs in the 3rd, though only 2 were earned. He gave up 7 hits, including 2 doubles and a triple, then tired at the end and walked 2 batters with 2 outs in the 7th. In all his line read 6.2 IP, 7H, 3R, 2 ER, 2 W, 6 Ks.
- Jonathan Gray has outpitched Appel the last two outings and had another dominant performance last night, going 6 scoreless innings and allowing just 2 hits, no walks, and 10 strikeouts. Oklahoma had a big lead and I'm assuming that's one of the reasons Gray was pulled early. It seems that Gray is really building some momentum and is getting national media attention now. There were two articles on him, this profile by ESPN and this piece by Jon Heyman. Heyman said that the Astros, Cubs, and Rockies have all been scouting Gray heavily.
Last week we looked at some college hitters that could be there for their 2nd pick, but the real prize may be getting a high ceiling high school arm who could slip because of the college arm depth in this draft.
Will try and look at different guys in the coming weeks but here are a few to keep an eye on for now...
- If the Cubs don't pick Sean Manaea (whose Indiana State team did not play last nigh) in the first round, an interesting lefty who may be available for their 2nd pick is California high schooler Jonah Wesely. Wesely pitched an 18 strikeout no-hitter on Wednesday. He pitched an 11 strikeout 2 hitter in his previous start. The 6'2" sturdily built Wesely works with low 90s fastball that can reach the mid 90s and a curveball that has plus potential.
- Some of you may remember former MLB closer Brian Harvey and his intimidating fastball. He was on hand at the UA game to catch his son pitch and he pretty much looks the same as he did back then. His son Hunter Harvey has seen his stock rise a lot since that day and now could sneak into the supplemental first round. He works with a 92-93 mph fastball and hard curve -- but at 6'2", 175 lbs, there's plenty of projection left for him to throw harder in time.
- LHP Rob Kaminsky doesn't have great size (6'0", 190) but he has a good 92 mph fastball and a big curve, which may be the best in the draft. He has struck out 38 batters in his last 19 innings and like Wesely, has thrown a no-hitter this season.
- He's not a prep pitcher but one of the faster rising pitchers of late is Northwest Mississippi Community College LHP Cody Reed. He has great size at 6'4", 220 and the mid 90s fastball to match. He also throws a good curve.
- LHP (noticing a trend here) Jacob Brentz has touched 97 and some say he's reached 100, but he more often pitches in the 92-94 range. He has a projectable, athletic body at 6'2", 185 lbs so he's a player who is still a work in progress -- but there's obviously a lot to work with.
- California LHP Matt Krook had a lot of helium 2 weeks ago but a couple of rough performances and he has dropped a bit again, perhaps enough to fall to the Cubs. Scouts like his big frame that projects well, a low 90s fastball and a curveball with plus potential.
- Another guy I saw at the UA game, RHP Connor Jones, probably shouldn't fall to the Cubs on talent but he may be a tough sign. If the Cubs are able to save a few bucks with their first pick, then maybe they'll see if they can sign Jones to an overslot bonus. Jones can already reach 94 and has advanced command for a kid his age. I can see the Cubs liking this guy if he's available.
- High school numbers don't mean much but these are kind of fun anyway. Hard throwing RHP Carlos Salazar, who can reach the upper 90s, struck out 14 batters in 6 innings and has a 0.00 ERA in 41.2 IP with 80Ks and 19 walks. He is still raw even for a high school product, so he doesn't figure to be the Cubs 2nd round pick, but if he slips into the 3rd round...who knows?
Filed under: MLB Draft