We're heading down the stretch run and the draft links are really starting to pour in. As usual we'll run down the performance of the big 3 and hook you up with some good draft material to read as the big day approaches...
Updates on the Big 3...
- Mark Appel: Appel had his second straight solid outing. He was very good but wasn't quite as dominant as Gray today. He went 8 innings, allowed just 3 hits and one run. He walked 2 and struck out 9.
- Jonathan Gray: Gray bounced back with a reassuring complete game shutout and 12 strikeouts after scuffling a bit the last couple of starts. The good news for Gray fans is that he's probably legit but the bad news is that it's looking more and more like the Astros will take him. Appel fans, like myself, are okay with that -- but I'd prefer the Cubs get their choice, since they have more info on both pitchers than I have, obviously. There is still a chance of that happening if the Astros take Bryant or Moran.
- Kris Bryant: Good test today for Bryant as he matched up against potential first round pitcher Alex Balog. He went 1 for 4 with a walk and 2 runs scored, then HR'd late in the game. His 31st. He went into the game hitting .338/.502/.860 on the year. Theo and Jed went to go see Bryant today and presumably they have met or will meet with him as well, so he's very much in the mix. Word is at least one Cubs scout is pushing for him.
The wildcard pick...
- Both the Cubs and Astros have scouted Colin Moran, the 3B from North Carolina, with the Astros the more likely to take him of the two teams, so I think he deserves some mention. Moran went into the weekend hitting .373/.498/.610 with 13 HRs. He's more of a possibility for Houston if they feel they can't sign any of the top 3 to an early, below slot deal. He's a pure hitter with OBP skills who should stick at 3B, so his floor is pretty high.. The only question is power but he definitely has the size and makes hard contact, so perhaps it develops in time.
News and Notes...
- Jim Callis came out with his mock draft today and it has some changes but not surprises at the top. Callis has the Astros taking Jonathan Gray and the Cubs taking Mark Appel, so there are no surprises there. There's still the outside chance that the Astros take a hitter, in which case the Cubs will have their choice of the two projected aces -- and Callis senses that the Cubs are pretty split between the two.
- Baseball America has a Best Tools list out for the 2013 draftees. BA listed the 3 best players by tools, making a separate list for college and high school players. Jonathan Gray and Mark Appel are 1-2 when it comes to best fastball. Somewhat suprisingly, Appel's breaking ball made the list at #3 but Gray's slider, whom some consider to be a 70 on the scouting scale, did not. Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray were #1 and #2, respectively, when it comes to the closest to the majors. Colin Moran was 3rd. Kris Bryant ranked 1st in power and 3rd in strike zone judgement behind Colin Moran and DJ Peterson.
- Jim Callis also had a draft chat and there are some interesting Cubs-related nuggets. Among them: 1) The Astros and Cubs have scouted Colin Moran but he doesn't see him going 1 or 2 right now. 2) Callis has been told there is no clear consensus between Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray. He's been told the Cubs prefer both names by different people. At any rate, he thinks it's moot because he believes the Astros will take Gray. I concur. 3) In a separate question, however, he makes the choice between Appel, Gray -- and Bryant, a much closer decision for the first pick. He puts the percentages at: Gray 37%, Appel 35%, Bryant 28%, the field 0% to be the #1 overall pick. Meanwhile in Keith Law's chat (see below), he gives Colin Moran at least a 25% chance, maybe more, of going #1. Isn't this fun? The whole chat is interesting if you're a fan of the draft overall.
- Chris Crawford and Jason Churchill listed the needs and targets of teams in the NL Central. In no surprise they listed Jonathan Gray, Mark Appel, and Kris Bryant as the Cubs main targets. They said that both Gray and Appel would instantly become the Cubs top pitching prospects. He lists the strength of the organization as bats with upside while it's weaknesses are catching and starting pitching. That should not come as a surprise to any of you and it also shouldn't play too big a role in whom the Cubs pick, though it seems likely they intend to shore up pitching. Part of that, however, is that I expect the BPAs in both rounds one and two to be pitchers.
- Law also held a draft-heavy chat and talked much about Appel, Gray, and Bryant. He also talked about Travis Wood, whom he called a league average starter and a #4. I'll take that from him at his current cost. There are a lot of questions about Mark Appel's leverage and Law does a good job answering them. He also talks about Kris Bryant's floor.
- May have found a weakness here with Mark Appel. Dancing skills grade no better than a 40 on the 20-80 scale. Not sure there's much upside there either. In all seriousness, it says a lot about that he takes the time to spend some time entertaining kids at a children's hospital.
Filed under: MLB Draft