There is no Cubs baseball today and was just talking to Tom about how unfair that MLB makes us wait 5 months for real baseball, gives us one game and then the next day off.
We can't get enough baseball right now. We don't need a day off.
At least it allows us some time for a quick draft update before we head into this weekend's games.
Baseball America published the MLB Draft signing bonus pools today and the Cubs will get $10, 556,500, as teams received an 8.2% increase in their allotment. The Cubs have the second highest amount behind the Houston Astros, who have $11,698,800.
As to whom the Cubs will use the bulk of the money on, that is still up in the air. Stanford RHP Mark Appel has been the consensus top player since the end of last season. However, he now has company. Through no fault of his own, Appel now has company in fellow RHP Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma. Appel has been lights out in terms of both stuff and statistics, but Gray has been matching him nearly pitch for pitch.
One AL Scout now has Gray at the top of his list,
"I like Appel, but at this point, Gray would be (first) on my board," an AL scout said. "I'll take the triple-digit fastball and the wipeout slider any day of the week. There have been times that I've heard Mark was just a little too fastball heavy without elite command. I don't hear that about Gray very often, I think he's going to be a star."
Despite being just a junior, Gray may be an easier sign than Appel, who held out last year and wound up returning for his senior season. It'll be interesting to see what Houston does, since they tried and failed to strike a pre-draft deal with Appel and agent Scott Boras last June. They could try again but it seems they have a pretty good alternative in Gray. The Cubs look to be in good position either way if they decide they want a power college arm.
Keith Law scouted Frazier and has mixed reviews. On one hand he calls his bat speed elite and projects him to have plus power. On the other hand he's not too keen on his overall hit tool, as Frazier struggles with breaking pitches and is frequently looking dead red. Like many others, Law also doubts his ability to stay in CF, thus relegating him to a corner and putting increased burden on that bat.
Law will scout Meadows in a few days and compare the two. From what I've heard and read, Meadows may have the more polished approach and the better chance to stick in CF, though he may not hit for quite as much power. But that may change. Meadows has good bat speed in his own right and he is the bigger player. He's about 4 inches taller than Frazier and offers much more room for physical projection. Personally, I prefer Meadows based on the info I have but I'm not sure I'd pick either player at the 2nd pick right now.
It seems that LHP Sean Manaea has fallen behind Gray and Appel and now seems a long shot to go to the Cubs at #2. His velocity has risen a tick or two as the weather begins to warm, but he has yet to match the stuff he displayed in the Cape Cod League last offseason. The numbers are pretty impressive but they have not been as good as the other 2 top college arms and he has not faced the same level of competition.
Kris Bryant has established himself as the best collegiate hitter in this draft. Maybe the best hitter, period. He's hitting .370/.533/.900 with 14 HRs and our man Kevin believes he has a legit shot to stick at 3B. If the Cubs scouts agree on that front, then they could go with Bryant. As a college bat, he could be the safest pick in the draft, so the Cubs may make sure they get the first pick right and look to address pitching later in the draft.
Jonathan Denney and Reese McGuire are the two best catchers in the draft but, in my opinion, neither are worthy of a top 2 pick. They are talented but the risk is just too high with prep catchers. An alternative may be available, however, if the Cub go pitching with their top pick. Nick Ciuffo's stock continues to rise and may now even sneak into the supplemental first round. If he lasts to the Cubs at 41, they may just snatch him up. You may recall that Dan would have picked him for the Cub in our mock draft and I was torn between Ciuffo and college arm Ryan Eades. Eades was higher on my board, so I went in that direction, but you won't see me complain if the Cubs pick Ciuffo with that pick. Ciuffo is a rare left-handed hitting catcher with some power potential and solid defensive skills.
Mock Draft Preview: My top 10
This is a sneak preview for when I do my own mock draft next month, but here's how the top of my draft board looks so far...
1. Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
2. Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma
3. Kris Bryant, 3B-OF, U. of San Diego
4. Austin Meadows, OF, H.S. (GA)
5. Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State
6. Clint Frazier, OF, H.S. (GA)
7. Ryan Stanek, RHP, Arkansas
8. Braden Shipley, RHP, Nevada
9. Jon Denney, C, H.S. (OK)
10. Kohl Stewart, RHP, (TX)/Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville
I've pretty much narrowed my Cubs pick down to the top 4 on this board. Though I know some of you are still big fans of Manaea, I'm at the point where he needs to work his way back into the picture right now. Frazier and Stanek have top of the draft ability but there are too many questions for me right now on both players to put the in the top 5.
Filed under: MLB Draft