MLB Draft Update: Scouting report/video on Gray; Appel so-so; Frazier heats up even more

Lots of news today with the Cubs and since I'm still not sure how I want to manage the usual Saturday morning draft update during the regular season, we also have a big update on the MLB Draft...

MLB Draft

The Cubs draft has come down to just a few names.  We can assume college RHPs Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray are both at or near the top  of that short list.  Statistically, Gray has caught and even surpassed Appel, though we know the draft isn't really about college stats.  Gray may have already closed the gap, however, in terms of stuff.  He throws harder than Appel and his slider can be just as good, and his command has been on par as well.  Appel still has the edge in terms of a change-up and experience/track record.

Today, we have a scouting report and a video, to share from Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus.

Here is an excerpt of the report,

Gray flashed three quality pitches on Friday night against the University of Texas, working with a present 7 fastball, 6 slider, and 4+ changeup that should be 5+ with further refinement. He produced easy velocity, sitting comfortably between 93-97 mph and reaching 98 a handful of times. There shouldn’t be any questions about his strength; he still worked at 93-95 mph, even after surpassing the 100-pitch mark in the seventh inning.

However, Cole has some concerns about his delivery,

There are some concerns regarding his already-large body and the stiff front side/landing leg in his delivery. He showed a tendency to fall over his front leg and off to the first-base side on occasion, causing his command to suffer.

Despite the flaw, Gray is still considered a top 5 candidate and a serious candidate to go #1 overall in the upcoming draft.

Here are the updates from the past week:

Candidates for the 2nd overall pick:

  • Jonathan Gray went 8 innings and allowed 4 hits and 1 run against Baylor.  He walked 2 and struck out 10.  For the season, Gray has pitched 68.1 innings allowed 34 hits, walked 13 and struck out 81.  He is 6-1 with a 1.19 ERA overall.
  • Mark Appel struggled a bit and went 8 innings, allowing 7 hits and 4 runs, though only 3 of them were earned.  He walked 2 and struck out 7.  On the year, Appel has thrown 71.2 innings, allowed 48 hits, walked 13 and struck out 85.  He is 6-2 with a 1.41 ERA on the season.
  • If you want to follow along what top players are doing and you are on Twitter, @DanMKirby.  He does a good job of keeping track of college and high school players. Clint Frazier hit his 12th HR this week and in his last 5 games, Frazier is 10-for-16 with a triple, 5 HRs, 4 BBs, 2 SBs, and a 2.388 OPS.
  • Of LH hitting Austin Meadows' 13 extra base hits this year, 8 have gone to CF (4 2B, 4 HR), 4 to LF (4 2B) and 1 to RF (2B).  Interesting that he has an all-fields approach and you wonder what he can do with that size, strength, and bat speed once he learns to really turn on the ball.  For the season, Meadows is hitting .680 (17-for-25) in 9 league games with 6 doubles, 4 HRs, a .733 OBP, and a 1.400 slugging pct.  That's a 2.133 OPS.
  • Sean Manaea did not pitch last night.

The college hitters

I don't believe the Cubs will take a college hitter at this point.  Partly because Kris Bryant has cooled off and Colin Moran is just starting to hit the ball as hoped - especially in regards to power.  There is also the issue of position value as neither is a lock to stay at 3B and in Moran's case, that would mean a move to 1B.  Bryant is athletic enough with a strong arm and should be able to handle RF.  Here is the latest on both hitters.  Moran may be the better pure hitter, however, and it looks like he's closing the gap.

  • Colin Moran is beginning to hit the ball extremely well.  After not hitting a HR in his first 13 games, he has now put hit .464 with 7 doubles and 8 HRs in the last 21 games.  He has an excellent ey and has walked 17 times in that time frame.  His slash line is .464/.567/.833.   Last night Moran went 3-4 with a double and overall on the season he is hitting .396/.518/.634 with the 8 HRs.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Kris Bryant has cooled off from his ridiculous start.  He went 0-3 with 2 walks last night.  On the season he is .342/.514/.812 with 14 HRs

Since it's looking less likely the Cubs will take a college hitter with the #2 pick, we can also take a look at a few college hitters that could be available with the Cubs second round pick.

  • Austin Wilson a 6'5, 245 lbs outfielder from Stanford likely won't last until the Cubs pick and will probably shoot his way back up the list if he's healthy and produces.  For right now, it looks like he'll go at the bottom of the first round. He is finally playing and is 5-14 with 3 doubles and 3 walks on the season.  Had Wilson been healthy and productive all season, he would have probably have been a top 10 pick.
  • Aaron Judge is huge at 6'7", 255 lbs but is athletic enough to play the OF for now.  He is hitting  .339/.420/.565 with 5 HRs for Fresno State.
  • The Cubs drafted 6'3", 215 lb.,  3B Eric Jagielo out of high school but he chose to attend Notre Dame, where he is hitting .392/.515/.667 and 7 HRs. He's likely to go in the first 50 picks.
  • 3B Chad Pinder of Virginia Tech doesn't have the same kind of size as Jagielo at 6'2", 192 lbs, but as a former SS, maybe the better athlete with the better chance to stay at 3B. He is hitting .366/448/.507 with 4 HRs.
  • DJ Peterson is one of the better college hitters in the draft.  He plays 3B for New Mexico but defense is not his forte and he may wind up at 1B, which hurts his draft value.  The 6'1", 205 lbs. Peterson is hitting a robust .410/.517/.869 with 12HRs.
  • Hunter Dozier is a shortstop but he's a pretty big guy, so perhaps 3B is in his future as well.  He has put up great numbers playing against lesser competition with Stephen F Austin but he's a top 50 prospect.  He's hitting .412/.511/.772 with 9 HRs.

Cubs News and Notes:

  • The big news is that Kyuji Fujikawa, who many noted looked off yesterday, may have been pitching hurt.  Today he went on the 15 day DL and was replaced on the roster by Rafael Dolis.  Fujikawa has a strained right forearm.
  • Carrie Muskat tweets that the Cubs will tweak their rotation vs. the Rangers because Scott Feldman is dealing with tightness in his back. It'll be Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva, and Jeff Samardzija for the series which begins on Tuesday.
  • Ian Stewart is ready to begin is rehab assignment at AAA Iowa.  It appears 1/2 of the Cubs projected starting infield will be playing there this weekend. Darwin Barney is also going to Iowa.
  • Good news for Cubs OF'er Nate Schierholtz. He got his World Series ring today from the Giants' manager Bruce Bochy.


Jeff Samardzija takes on lefty Madison Bumgarner.  The righty dominated lineup is in place.  They have not been all that productive yet and face a tough challenge today.  The game is on Fox today at noon CT.

  1. Dave Sappelt, CF
  2. Starlin Castro, SS
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Alfonso Soriano, LF
  5. Scott Hairston, RF
  6. Welington Castillo, C
  7. Brent Lillibridge, 3B
  8. Anthony Gonzalez, 2B
  9. Jeff Samardzija, SP

What to watch For:

Felzz: Alfonso Soriano.   He's been hitting the ball hard foul but hasn't translated into a lot of hits. Always a notorious slow starter, let's see (hope) he breaks out today.

John: Assuming the Cubs will be leading late in the game (and why wouldn't we?), I just want to see who's closing.  Is it back to Carlos Marmol?  Is it James Russell? Shawn Camp? Hector Rondon? Rafael Dolis?  Is it going to be a bullpen by committee that will use all of them depending on matchups?

Tom: The save situation, of course.




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  • Awesome article John! compliments to what Cubs Den has become, only place I need to get my Cubs fix...

    with the Draft inching closer, what would be your top 4 ranking? Do you feel Meadows has a big advantage over Frazier being lefty? bc we all know Theo loves lefties.

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    Thanks Nik!

    My ranking goes:
    1. Appel
    2. Gray
    3. Meadows
    4. Frazier -- although I'm starting to lean toward Frazier again. We'll call it a tie at 3 and 4.

  • John, time to check your math.....there are four infielders, not thee...Castro and Rizzo here, Stewart & Barney in Iowa

    I would like to see Blake Parker come up than Dolis

    MLB should get with the program and let teams trade off their draft picks.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Yikes, how did I put 2/3? I think it must have been a typo rather than math. Thanks.

    Parker will cost the Cubs a 40 man roster spot. Not enough difference between him and Dolis to drop a player.

    I do like the idea of trading draft picks.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I agree because the move disrupts Dolis' fine tuning at AAA.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Dolis does remind me of a very young Lee Smith.........

    lets hope he cut down on those HR pitches........

    You know, we could had Lenny Castillo here instead!

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    I hope the Astros do grab Gray. The 100 mph fastball is nice, and you have to give him credit for going out and putting up the numbers he's put up, but I'd rather have the better pitch repertoire and makeup of Mark Appel. At the end of the day, we don't want these guys to get out college hitters, we want them to get out major league hitters -- and 3 plus pitches really helps with that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I still lean Appel as well. If the Astros take him, then I could almost see the Cubs going in any number of directions, but I think Gray will be too tough to pass up.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I really do like that Frazier is showing a willingness to take a walk. That was my biggest question on him based on what I'd read. At the moment, I think I'd cross my fingers and take him if Appel is off the board.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It's high school though and he gets pitched around a lot. Baez had a good amount of walks in high school for the same reason.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    32 of 'em, it turns out. Point taken.

  • Frazier and Meadows numbers are so rediculous that one wonders what to think. Actually, I am happy to see that Appel is human.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I saw a report that Theo took position players as his first draft pick 7 out of his 8 years in Boston.

    Put your money on Meadows as being #1 pick for the Cubs.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    Well, they're high school numbers. They don't much much at all, for all intents and purposes.

    I mean, numers have some meaning in college, but even then, there's analysts that prefer to not look TOO far into college numbers because they're playing against competition that will not be pro ballplayers.

    Frazier and Meadows are playing against competition that won't even be college ballplayers in most cases.

    Realistically, it's fun to look at, but the numbers are indicative of nothing at all.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    They're definitely there for fun. No doubt that high school numbers mean little. I put them there with Meadows/Frazier for comparison's sake since they face similar competition. We've already seen lots of scouting reports on both here. College numbers a bit more important but still largely irrelevant. Appel/Gray are interesting to compare but it will come down to scouting reports and who projects better in the MLB.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    They are ridiculous numbers but keep in mind that many scouts would have had them both behind Byron Buxton and Albert Almora if they were all in the same draft.

  • Maybe it will be a good time to trade Barney this summer to Toronto for some high qualified prospects?..........

    All these players going down with injuries....and our Cubs coming off the DL soon........"Panic" will happen this July with certain teams who will do anything to get to the playoffs after spending big time $$$$ on Free Agents.........

    Who would have thought the Cubs would have double the wins than the Angels would have now..............

    Marlins TV ratings are so low, that QVC network has a higher viewership than the Marlin games.

    Did we see the last of Kobe Bryant last night?..........all I can say is....MJ was much better than Kobe.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    Toronto traded almost all of their prospects away already.

  • I like to see Rondon, Camp & Bowden as being 9th inning guys. I fear Russell is being used too much.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    You've come a long way on Bowden, I see.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    maybe we are more at the bottom of the barrel in seeing who can close for us?......

    Bowden has done well.......but he is no "closer".......lets say if Dunkin Doughnuts was looking for a spokesperson for their coffee, Bowden would not be that guy.......(if you do not understand that line, please ask Alec Baldwin what I mean)

    .....Rondon may be our future closer..........

    maybe Bowden can advertise Dunkin's cream puffs?

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I'll give Alec a call.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Can I agree with twice in one day.

  • Too bad the draft is before the international signing period and the
    July trading period. I'm hoping we can get some pitching prospects

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think the Cubs use more of the Astros strategy with the international players. It's so difficult to project that they go volume. They'll get a top guy or two, but they won't go after the top bonus babies. So I think they'll stock up on pitching no matter what they do with the draft.

  • Soon, we will have Stewart and Barney returning.........several guys need to start producing.....Sappelt and Lillibridge to name a few.....

    If the Cubs took Appel, he would be on this club next spring......Gray and Meadows, are more like projects for several years........

    Astros will need a quick fix and will take I would say we should take the next best player, no matter what position he plays.

    So no more prospects in the Toronto farm system.....I just believe many of the so called playoff teams will push the panic button this year before July......the Dodgers, the Angels, The Blue Jays, Yankees to name a few..........Theo will be very busy this summer if the Cubs cannot push for those 88 wins.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Did you mean Frazier? I don't see Gray as being a "several year" project.

  • Still leaning Appel as well. Just seems like a safer pick and probably closer to the majors then Gray, who kind of came out of nowhere.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Me too for similar reasons.

  • These Fox announcers annoy the hell out of me. "The Cubs are never going to score enough runs to get over .500". How in the hell do they know?

    They used the example of Carlos's start last night. Sure, that NEVER happens to other teams. Tsk, tsk.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Thom Brennaman and Tim McCarver know all. Just ask them.

  • I was at Bryant's game last night. He made two out standing plays at 3B one of them most major leaguer won't have made. He was expanding his strike zone because his team was behind and was trying too hard.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Thanks for the update. I still think Bryant is a long shot for the Cubs at this point.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    At this point I would have to agree but still think he is an All Star in the making.

  • Dolis callup forces a decision in 15 days. It's his last option. Unless someone else gets DL'ed in the bullpen, the coices are, 1. Dolis outrighted, exposed to waivers, or two... Release Marmol?

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    In reply to HackWilson09:

    I'd think Takahashi would be ahead of Marmol on the release list.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    Options are good for the entire year. They can send Dolis up and down all year but he'll need to make the team next year and stay there. Dolis most likely to go unless he wows the Cubs.

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    In reply to HackWilson09:

    FYI, that's not how options work. You don't use up an option each TIME you are recalled, it represents the number of seasons you can be optioned. Dolis can be sent up and down all year within those rules (there are waiting periods), but he won't be out of options until NEXT season.

    Hope that helps

    Dolis hasn't really done much to deserve to get called up, but a) he's already on the 40-man, and b) noboby at Iowa has really covered themselves in bullpen glory so far this year

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    In reply to Zonk:

    This is the understatement of the young season: "noboby at Iowa has really covered themselves in bullpen glory so far this year"

  • Kane County is on right now for anyone interested. The picture quality from CF camera looks like one I had from the TV set I had in my room as a kid in the 70s.

    Ian Dickson on the mound.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    We should trade for Tyler Wagner. He'd fit into the ICubs staff perfectly with this control.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ha! It's not easy to walk Contreras and Hernandez, though Contreras has been more patient this year than last.

    I see you decided to spring for MiLB!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yep. Nice to be able to see the kids -- wish we had more Kane County games on, though.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Boise should be on midseason. All of their home games were on last year and much of their road games. They do a great job with the feed too.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, looking forward to that. I'm hoping we get to see decent chunks of the first wave of pitching there this year. Dunston, Crawford, and maybe even Jeff Baez, too.

    Is there any rhyme or reason as to why the Smokies game isn't on the schedule today?

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    And now they're showing up.


  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not sure that Boise will be televised this year. They are no longer listed on the MiLB TV page as a participating team...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Wow, that is no exaggeration. That is poor quality.

  • In reply to mcneilscot:

    Haha. It's usually not that bad.

  • Where in the world is Gerardo Concepcion? I haven't heard anything about him since last year.

    With the older tv I used to be able to hit the SAP button and it would turn off the Fox tv announcers but leave the ballpark mic on.

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    He's still working his way back at extended spring training.

  • Anyone else bothered by Brennaman calling the Cubs "Cubbies"?

    Always bothered my Dad when people did that. He would say only Cub fans can call the Cubbies.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Bothers me too but I have to admit Im not at all a fan of Brennaman in general.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    "Cubbies" doesn't bother me much... not a fan of Brennaman though...

  • Rock Shoulders stays red hot. Double in the RF-CF gap to plate two.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I wish they'd promote him. I'd miss him in KC but I don't think there's a need to have V-bomb and Shoulders.

    John, after you call Alec, can you call Theo and tell him? Thanks.

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    Will do, Willie.

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    Little early for promotions. Sample size is just too small. Shoulders is age appropriate for the MWL. If he keeps this up for another 6-8 weeks, you could see a promotion then.

  • Sori starting to heat up

  • This is the worst baseball I am seeing today !!!!! John were can I find the minor league teams ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    Go to and there's a tab there for 9.99/month or 39.99 for the year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If you get it you can watch 3 games today: 2nd game of Kane County double header, AA Tennessee, and AAA Iowa.

  • Kane County has drawn 8 walks in the first 4 innings.

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    Dioner Navarro with a bomb to cut the lead to one!

  • John is there a way to get a like button on here? I find myself wanting to like comments lol...

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    Ha! Me too. Unfortunately there isn't right now. Some people just write it out.

  • John, what do you think the chances are that they could acquire an extra pick or two, via a team with a competitive balance pick?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I'd love for them to do that if they can't get a quality prospect for DeJesus, Soriano, etc.

  • Soriano was safe!!! and all we needed was a sac fly twice this game and couldn't do it... SMH, so frustrating

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    Very frustrating. Had their hot hitter up in Castillo and gets a good pitch and hits into a DP

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    Notice how Posey didn't give Clevenger a second look after he collapsed. Classless.

  • i thought the same thing, it goes a long way to simply say, are you ok?

  • Alcantara with his 2nd HR. Baez with a nice day. 2-for-4, 2B, 3B, no Ks. Bruno hasn't stopped hitting since signing with the Cubs. He skipped Low-A and has reached base in every game so far this year, hitting his way on in 7 of his 8 games. Vogelbach is off the HR snide. Cubs pitching has been wildly inconsistent so far this year. One really good performance followed by a terrible one and vice versa. Chalk that up to it being early and needing to get innings under the belt and establish a rhythm, I guess.

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