As we head into the final month before the draft, it's becoming more and more clear whom the Cubs are going to pick, so there probably won't be as many updates on guys like Austin Meadows, Clint Frazier, or Sean Manaea.
We'll still update on Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray and I'm starting to think of it as a boxing match. Appel dominated the early rounds, then Gray has come on strong to make this an even fight. Appel won this week's round, however. We'll also keep an eye on Kris Bryant, who may be the fallback option if something happens with the first two starters to cause them to drop. I'm also a little intrigued by the red-hot 3B Colin Moran of North Carolina. He started the year as a top 5 pick but dropped off early and is now back in top 5 consideration. He's a better pure hitter than Bryant but has less power. He's hitting .389/.509/.648 on the season with 12 HRs.
- Jonathan Gray struggled a bit, giving up an uncharacteristic 9 hits and walking 2 in 8 innings of work. He allowed 3 runs. Gray also struck out an unusually low (for him) 6 batters.
- Mark Appel had swing and miss stuff again but was also touched for 3 runs, though only two were earned. Appel reached his pitch count and couldn't complete the game, going 7.2 innings, walking one and striking out 13.
- Kris Bryant went o for 2 and walked twice. He's hitting .333/.509/.833 with 22 HRs.
Some more second round names...
We'll start looking at some more 2nd round candidates and today I'll take a look back at some guys I liked early on -- and are now starting to enter the conversation as top 50 guys. At the time when I asked, I got a bit of a lukewarm response, but these guys are heating up now as those skills that were there early are starting to blossom at the right time. From the archives, here are 4 guys I liked back in August who are late first round to 2nd round candidates now.
- OF Ivan Wilson looks like he was carved out of granite. He runs very well and although he didn't showcase his raw power, he did show strong hands by fighting off a couple of tough pitches and depositing them in the OF for singles. I think with some more experience he could be interesting. The physical tools are there but he's pretty raw right now, even for a high school player.
- I was pleasantly surprised by Hunter Green, who had a nice clean delivery with good arm speed. He was 88-91, touched 92, and showed good command of a big-breaking curve. He's tall and lean, listed at 6'4", 160 lbs. I'm not sure those measurements are accurate as he didn't appearthat lean to me. Still, there's room to add velocity as he matures physically.
- Robert Tyler was also about 88-91 but was not as consistent as Green with his curveball, but he did throw a couple of sharp knee-bucklers that drew some oohs from the crowd. Overall, he had trouble with command, but you could see his potential when things were working for him.
- The best raw stuff that day came from Brett Morales who hit 93 mph with a power curve that may have been the best single pitch on display Saturday.
- You can see the rest of my thoughts from that day here.
Here are some links from around the internet...
- If you want some more second round names, check out Through the Fence Baseball's Dan Kirby's list here. Three of the 4 names I have above are also on this list.
- Big League Futures updated some prep performances here.
- New to the draft? Here a good primer from Ted Cahill of mlb.com. Here are some dates and times to know: The Draft will again last three days, but in a change from previous years, it will run Thursday-Saturday instead of Monday-Wednesday. Rounds 3-10 will take place on Friday, June 7, beginning at 1 p.m. ET, and Rounds 10-40 will begin at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 8. Days 2 and 3 will take place via conference call from MLB headquarters in New York.
- Keith Law had a chat and in it he reveals his top 5 prediction. Law has it like this:
- Astros - Gray, RHP Oklahoma
- Cubs - Appel, RHP Stanford
- Rockies - Bryant, 3B, San Diego
- Twins - Manaea, LHP, Indiana State
- Indians - Moran, 3B, North Carolina
- Should note that Law still likes Appel better but that it's close enough where the Astros will try to work out a pre-draft deal with Gray and re-allocate money toward later rounds. He speculates that they might try and go for top Texas HS prospect Kohl Stewart -- which would be a major coup if he falls to the second round. He has a scouting report on Mark Appel in which he said he sat at 95, reached 97 late showed a "70" change-up, and a plus slider. He also liked his athletic delivery. You can see the rest of it here (insider only).
- Chris Crawford of MLB Draft Insider had a live draft chat here. In it, he describes why he likes Gray over Appel: "It's so close. At the end of the day, I'm going with the 75 -- sometimes 80 -- fastball and 65-70 slider over the 70 fastball, 60 slider, and 50-55 change. It's just a matter of upside. I cannot stress how close this is. And I wouldn't be surprised if I change my mind in two weeks." There's a difference of opinion here on the change-up grade with Law, and that may be the biggest reason why they're flipped.