MLB Draft Update: Appel wins this round with dominant outing as Gray struggles

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  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:
  1. Astros - Gray, RHP Oklahoma
  2. Cubs - Appel, RHP Stanford
  3. Rockies - Bryant, 3B, San Diego
  4. Twins - Manaea, LHP, Indiana State
  5. 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.


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  • When you ran the Gray-Appel comparison last week, I felt like everything made me lean towards Appel except for the mileage on his arm. I've noticed that his pitch count has been back up in the 120+ range a couple times in his last few starts which makes me a little nervous.

    I still feel like Gray has both the higher ceiling and lower floor, so it will be interesting to see the decision if Houston passes on both SPs. If they don't, I'll be perfectly happy with whoever is left at 1.2.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Personally, I still lean Appel. I just like the all-around stuff, the athleticism, and the delivery better. But Gray has those two big pitches and they'll take him a long way even if his change winds up being average.

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    Thanks for the update as always John.

    I'd like nothing more than for the Astros to take Appel or Gray(mostly Gray) to make our choice much easier and avoid the inevitable "what if we drafted Gray instead of Appel" or the "fire Theo for taking the wrong one" critics if the pitcher we don't draft starts out better.

    At this point do Appel and Gray profile as legit #1 guys? Where would they be if inserted into a major league rotation today?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Thanks Marcel, I think both have ace potential

  • Hey John, I've been excited for this piece so that I can share my insight on what I saw from Appel's performance. I stated this in a previous thread about being split on which of the two pitchers I wanted, and was slightly leaning towards Grey until I saw Appel last night. I would be happy with either, but he totally won me over.

    I watched from the 4th inning on once I knew the Hawks had the game wrapped up, but the announcers said that Appel was touching 98 early on w his heater. His change up was filthy, and was sitting consistently around 85. His slider was equally as nasty, and sitting around 83. Both pitches had devastating bite to them. It was nice to see him sustaining 93-95 in the 7th and 8th too.

    Of his 13 Ks only 1 was of the looking variety, and he was making ASU hitters look pretty foolish. He struck out the sides in both the 5th and 6th innings. His command was absolutely fantastic. Of his 121 pitches thrown, he threw 84 for strikes and only 37 for balls. He was always ahead in the count, and was 22/31 on first pitch strikes, which was great to see.

    The one minor knock I had was in the 7th with 1 out his 2B or SS made an error on a routine play, which got into his head after. He gave up a soft grounder for a single that just got under the 2B glove, and then walked the next batter to load up the bases. It looked like he got composed after that, and got a lazy fly ball to the left fielder, and then a ground out to end the inning, so he did recover nicely to limit the damage.

    Anyways, I'm sorry for the long-winded post, but hopefully this is a bit insightful to some who are interested. Hope you guys are having a great win, and GO HAWKS!

  • In reply to Jamato:

    That is awesome info Jamato! Thanks very much for sharing that.

    I should add that in addition to watching AA Tennessee and the Hawks, I also couldn't help flipping over to watch Blazing Saddles for like the 38th time. I'm glad you were able to watch the Appel game closely and fill us all in.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What in the wide world of sports were you doing that for, John? Just kidding, It's my pleasure. I have been bitten by the upcoming draft bug thanks to your guys' great work, so I couldn't help myself. However, if I had known that Blazing Saddles was on I might have watched it again too.

  • In reply to Jamato:

    Haha! Nicely played.

  • In reply to Jamato:

    One thing I got a kick out of was that Apple still wears his stirrups, don't no if that will fly in the pros. And in regards to the pitch counts he is pitching once every 7 days so he gets a little extra rest. He also repeats his delivery well and in my opinion he has pretty smooth arm action so I'm personally not all that worried.

  • In reply to Nick Nesler:

    Yeah, that really cracked me up too. The color guy would not give that up. He kept talking about bringing Appel to "kangaroo court" over it. By the end of his rant, I was like give it up already. Then he kept bringing it back up over the course of the next couple innings about how he was going to lose a lot of money in pro ball if he kept wearing them like that. I finally had to mute the TV he was getting on my nerves so much haha.

    But I really don't think I am too concerned about his pitch count being at 120 or so since he does have great mechanics, a clean delivery and pitches once every 7 days. Granted, it's probably not super ideal that he is tossing that many pitches, but I also think pitch counts can be so overrated... Pitchers back in the day were throwing like 150-200 and were fine. Verlander is obviously a freak, but the guy can throw 130+ touching triple digits, and is totally fine.

  • In reply to Jamato:

    One other thing I saw about Appel last night-he has excellent pitching mechanics. Uses his legs and drives off his front knee. That kind of pitching motion usually helps lessen shoulder strain and keeps a pitcher healthy. Right now, Id label Appel more of a pitcher and Gray a thrower whos still evolving into a pitcher.

  • ppl are getting me worried w this whole Appel having too much mileage on his arm, it reminds of a college RB who was overused in college, you only have so many carries/throws before your body starts to break down... this has me wanting Gray over Appel big time...

    After looking at some mock drafts just to learn more about prospects i've come accross some that say Gray looks a lot like Samardzija w his stuff. What do you guys think?

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    Some similarities, I think Gray has a better slider (or the potential for it anyway), but Samardzija's split/change is way more advanced than Gray's. I don't think Gray will catch him there. For Gray it's going to be about the better slider and hopefully better command for him to be a front of the rotation guy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, one thing Id ask about Appel-being a college arm with 4 years in college, is he durable enough to throw 200+ innings early in his career. Id say right now, Id consider Appel more advanced than Gray at this point in there careers in that respect,it might be a difference maker when draft time arrives.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I think that makes Gray a better pick. You have to re.ember you are looking for the long term here. Appel and Gray are very close right now but Appel is already a pitcher and Gray is still a thrower. Gray has a higher ceiling.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I'm sure that will be something both the Astros and Cubs will look into -- and probably have already. But I'm sure neither will want to see that pitch count go up when Stanford gets into the playoffs.

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    Agreed on Appel's delivery, by the way.

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    I cringe(in a good way) about a potential Appel/Gray-Samardzija-Vizcaino 1-2-3. If they all become what we hope they will I don't see too many teams matching that combo of youth and upside in a top 3.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    It would be the best 1-2-3 combo since Prior, Wood, and Zambrano!

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed in terms of power stuff and upside.

  • Is the FO looking to draft a pitcher 2nd round? Or could they go with a position player?

  • In reply to fsufrenzy911:

    They could go position player. I think they'll still go BPA with that 2nd pick. After that I think they'll focus on pitchers like last year.

  • I keep going back and forth on which pitcher would be a better pick , but Moran has me interested .

  • In reply to walterj:

    The best pure hitter out of college and it looks like he can stick at 3B. I think if the Cubs were in the 3-5 range, they'd seriously consider him.

  • Re: Gary's performance - he traveled from OKC to Pittsburgh to drive to Morgantown (2.5 hours). I've made that trip and it sucks. Not exactly MLB travel

  • In reply to Cowboy Cub:

    Interesting angle. I wouldn't have thought of that. Thanks.

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    In reply to Cowboy Cub:

    You're exactly right Cowboy. There's no good way to get to Morgantown.

  • Let's hope they can't make a pre-draft deal with either pitcher

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I don't think Appel would do it. Maybe Gray.

  • Green has hit 95 this season. I would also add Two other players to that watch list. Akeem Bostick a SP from South Carolina and Trey Michalczewski a SS in Jenk, OK that profiles to 3B.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Thanks for the updates KG!

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    Soriano with another blast. That makes two for the day. According to Rizzo has his avg. slowly melting up. He's at .250 right now. Very good sign that as the weather warms up the middle of the order starts to hit and score us some runs.

    Still watching how many men we leave on base. It's still a big concern.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    When Sori starts to heat up, he can carry the team for a while. Good to see Rizzo on the rise. I knew it was just a matter of time.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm also in your camp with Castro hitting in the 5 hole. Long term it's his place in the order, imo.... Love to see one of our young guys be able to take the top two spots in the order but for now we just gotta work with what we got.....

  • I was listening to the Cubs game while driving to the park to play fetch w my dog, I literally yelled YES! BOOM BABY! when Sori hit his first HomeRun of the game, When I got home I put on the t.v. and literally yelled LET'S GO BABYYY! That's what i'm talking about! I just love seeing Soriano hit Homeruns, he is such a great teammate and leader, and last year his numbers were unreal! i believe top 3 in homeruns and rbi's, LOVE IT! We need this win, so sick of losing 1 run games to Dusty w his toothpick, everygame this yr w Cinci has been decided by 1 run I believe.

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    Mlbtraderumors sheds a little light on paniaguas situation:

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    OMG, Marmol warming up to come in for the 8th inning. Let the, um, err, "fun" begin.....

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    Slider, Slider, Slider, Slider, Slider......

    Sound familiar?

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    And every thing is up in the zone!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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    And Dale finally pulls his ass!!!! OMG

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    You sense a bullpen shakeup is coming. Beyond Marmol, you have to wonder if Camp is cooked, and Kameron Loe is just being Kameron Loe. Bowden hasn't been good lately. It speaks volumes when your most reliable RH was signed off the street 2 weeks ago.

    Fujikawa coming back should help, and the bullpen may improve when Garza comes back. Beyond that, Cubs might look at AAA; not tons of help there, maybe Dolis. Blake Parker has been pretty good, but that would require a 40-man move

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    OK, Where's my Jack Daniels? I just can't watch this anymore!

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    Where the hell is Kevin Gregg? While Marmol is walking the universe you get Rondon up next to warm up? The game is on the line here in the 8th! We needed someone that's gonna throw strikes!!!

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Gregg's the 9th inning guy.

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    Is that the official stance? I thought we were still in the "closer by committee" type of thing going.....

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Not sure, though it looks that way to me. Sveum might be riding the hot hand.

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    I just don't understand the pitching lineup for the Cubs. We know that they have officially said that Marmol is NOT the closer. OK fine. Great, But does that mean you push Russell down the ladder to be your 7th inning guy?

    If you got Rondon as a guy that needs work today or very soon, why not bring him in the 7th inning all fresh with nobody on base? Then you have Russell (one of your best pitchers) still available in the 8th where you know there is a history of Marmol blowing it.

    I mean it's easy to second guess this stuff, but really........... Russell is really one of our best pitchers out of the pen, don't we want him available if things get hairy?????

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    You're making too much sense. :)

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    I guess we need to chalk this loss on the shoulders of the Shark! He's gonna need to go 9 innings and throw 163 pitches per outing to get a win! There..... it's settled.

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    Not a well managed game-got to have a quicker hook w marmol

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    Fellas, this loss was a bad one. I think it's time for the song.

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    The Cubs just does not have the horses yet to win consistently. But does that mean Dale Sveum needs to constantly put guys in position to fail? That whole 7th inning was a total farce, imo. Rondon is a rule 5 guy, isn't he? Then why o why put him in any type of pressure situation for any reason?

    I can see some movement coming soon with our bullpen. With todays performance by Shark our starting pitching has given us 18, yes 18, quality starts. Of those 18 starts they have but 6 wins to show for it!!!

    Now you combine that with leading the the majors in errors along with being #23 in hitting overall, is there any wonder why we have the record we have?

    Gonna be difficult not to have 100 losses again at this pace!

  • personally i can't wait for John to start up the trade rumor thread like he did last year and to have more articles like the one about us scouting the royals. I love hearing speculation and what everyone has to say about trades and for the draft to come

  • More future trade speculation found on twitter .....

    RT @TheCCO_Minors: Scouts here tonite from Cleveland, KC, Oakland, Tampa, & Washington about 4 hours ago

  • You talk about rating the players top 5 pick for example. Where are you regurgitating this information from--Baseball America?

    Have you actually scouted these players and compared there tools against the class of 300 or more high school, JC and College Juniors/Seniors?

    I want to understand your source which you don't seem to disclose. If you are curating your comments from sources say what they are. If you are actually scouting the players then break them down as is the practice of scouts and then project them by age and how close to the big leagues the are based on development.

    Otherwise, right or wrong this is curated conjecture and Baseball America does no real scouting on there own. They do talk to with scout who ofter tell them stuff just to take them off the scent of disclosing anything.

  • In reply to Lawscout:

    Curating and curated? He doesn't work in a museum. He's a knowledgeable baseball fan who started a blog.

    And it's a damn good one that has accurately predicted many transactions, etc., that the Cubs have made. Regardless of where John gets his information, his analysis has proven sound and is always well thought out and well written. You seem to be asking, "where's the beef?" while I'm wondering what is your's...

  • It is doubtful pro scouts are sharing their work product with guys they meet hanging around the ballparks, at least not if they want to keep their jobs. To me it is more likely info being spread by runners for agents and flacks for various player representatives. It is small money for then and any pr that can head off a trade they don't want or contracts they can shape is probably worth it. That's why on substantive stuff you get the repeating of the basic sources, nothing new really. Add that to some "advanced" stats and you are on your way as a baseball blogger. Most sports journalists or team officials are well aware of who is carrying water for who. And my view, for what little it is worth, is take the lefty!

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