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MLB Draft Update: Does Theo prefer Jonathan Gray?

MLB Draft Update: Does Theo prefer Jonathan Gray?

Always nice when you have a pro confirm one of your ideas but Keith Law recently did his 2nd mock draft and listed Colin Moran at the top, giving the Cubs their choice of Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray.

This is something we speculated on as well as I've heard the Cubs are likely to have their choice of Appel or Gray.  This indicates that the Astros are leaning hitter and, although Kris Bryant is the top hitter in the draft, they won't be able to sign him quickly or easily with Scott Boras as his client.  That leaves Moran, who has the kind of numbers a saber-friendly team like the Astros like.

Law also hears that Theo Epstein prefers Jonathan Gray and that there is an internal debate between the two pitchers.

This is really getting interesting.

Appel is easily the more complete pitcher, but Jonathan Grays top two pitches are so good that he doesn't have to be complete.  He can get away with being less perfect than Appel and that in itself makes him a legitimate option.

Of course, Gray is expected to cost less and could sign earlier, giving the Cubs more options with their 2nd round pick, which is #41 overall.  The Cubs could be in a good position because both pitchers could conceivably slide if the Cubs don't select them -- but Gray is more likely to want to take a deal early.

As you know, I'm not a big fan of passing up the guy you think is the best player to save money.  I think that player is Appel, but the Cubs are not as certain.  In this case, if there's no clear cut favorite, then it might  make sense.  Last year the Cubs were unanimous in that Albert Almora was the best available player (at least one that would sign). This year it's different.  We have now heard from two connected draft gurus that there is internal debate between the two arms.  If there is no clear choice, might it not be best to hedge their bets and sign the guy who will allow you to get a better plan B in the second round?

It's a decision the Cubs will have to make and though I've mostly been banging the drum for Appel, maybe the Cubs ultimately go with Gray -- and to be honest with y0u, I'd be perfectly fine with that.

 

 

 

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    There is always the possibility that the Cubs like Gray's 1-2 pitch offering so much they would take him regardless of what it implies for the second round. I do like that they could be in position to get their top choice, though. (Mark Appel in Denver; he's going to need that plus-plus makeup.)

    Interesting side effect of the Astros strategy. The Twins could wind up with a 3-4-5 of Buxton-Sano-Bryant. Murderer's Row of the Midwest.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes. Absolutely. They may just prefer Gray straight up.

    That would be crazy if that happened for the Twins.

  • We all know I have been bang the Bryant drum. I would be very happy if the Cubs picked Gray. I see something very special in Him.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I'll be honest: a week from now I will have convinced myself that whichever of the 3 they get was the perfect player for them.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Haha, exactly!

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Me too. I'll talk myself into it even if they pick Colin Moran (which they won't);

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I get the sense you've been banging the drum for anyone but Appel all year :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The thing about Appel is he wasn't will to go to the pirates, but all I keep hearing is it wasn't about money. Then for me it bothers me that he didn't want to start his professional career. It bothers me about his want to be a MLB player. It just my gut and its hard for me to shake. I will get over it if they draft him.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Let's assume that story is 100% accurate. I wouldn't blame him a bit for wanting to skip Pirates boot camp. Those lunatics could end his career before it starts.

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    Or a negotiating ploy to drop Appel's asking price?

    Per mike caldwell's column yesterday, would the Cubs look to deal for Moustakis? Would you trade Valbuena and DDJ for Mous and a minor league pitcher?

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    Yes, I would. Not sure KC does it unless they're in win now mode.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Even then, KC would be nuts. DDJ and Valbuena are bench players; KC is so far in the hole, they need impact, and need it soon

    What a disaster this year for the Royals. Feel bad for them.

    Not that I wouldn't love to get Moose Tacos, mind you....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I should have said utterly desperate win now mode.

  • I think anytime you have A). two players this closely regarded, and B). a Scouting Dept the size of ours... you're going to have division.

    That isn't a bad thing and I'd prefer the brain thrust we have vs. any one individual maverick calling the shots.

    From the sounds of it, we really can't go wrong with either or Bryant.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    We'll find a way to go wrong. These are the Cubs. :-D

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    It does seem that way, but it seems like Bryant is still in 3rd right now. I'm getting really, really antsy for this draft.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ha!... Yeah me too. this anticipation is like the night before my date with Kim DeJesus....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Does David know about this date?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    aint skeered.....

  • Pitching.......Pitching........Pitching

    It is all about "Mind Games" now dealing with agents, GM's and the prospects that will be picked......

    History tells us that Theo likes to stretch the dollar with his prospects....

    History also tells us that Boras always gets his clients demands.

    Right now, it is not about a players abilities, but what kind of "brain" he has in his head........with the money being thrown around on these kids, the maturity make-up will be the final decision of who the Cubs will pick.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Lots of games going on write now by FOs and agents.

    All 3 top players are said to have very good makeup.

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    What a great position to be in! I also wouldn't have a problem with either of the two pitchers. Seems Gray might have lower mileage on his arm and if it makes available a better 2nd rounder, why not?
    Watching the Cubs play this week was fun and it seems they may be near a point where the winning could start.
    I'm surprised the fact that they're +6 in run diff. hasn't attracted more attention on the national stage. It would be a perfect piece for the MLB Now show to dissect.
    If the numbers even out the Cubs are a winning team this year! (But then again, the odds haven't evened out for them in over a hundred years!)
    Also under the radar is the fact that the NL Central is looking like the best division in baseball with the Cubs and Brewers not that far away.

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    In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    Yes-and the reds are great- the best team in the nl in my opinion

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    I hate the be the bearer of bad news ,but the Cards system is just phenomenal. They have a farm system that produces tons of great players, many who weren't on anybodies radar.

    They brought up another great pitcher in Wacaa. By the way how did he fall all the way to 19th for the Cards?

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    I think we'll see a "surprising" jump in wins next year when the Cubs add a hitter and shore up the bullpen.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think our rotation figures to be a strength for awhile. Love Rizzo. I think our problem is power bats; we really need one. Not sure if we'll buy one or not, but we need something.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Sign Ellsbury as a FA then send Miami Baez, Alcantara, Vogelbach, and any pitchers not named Pierce for Stanton...then they'll be fighting for the playoffs next year!

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    In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    Sorry, but Miami would be fools to take that package. They want upper level/major league ready prospects in any deal for Stanton. Only Alcantara is even at AA. Not to mention a team like Texas(who has been rumored to covet Stanton) could easily blow that deal out of the water.

    Not gonna happen.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I'm not sure Texas is such a monumental favorite anymore, Marcel.

    Buckel has been terrible, Perez has been up and down. The kindest thing you can say about Olt is that his value has taken a serious hit. What it really comes down to is are they willing to trade Profar.

    And, even if they are, the Cubs may have an advantage. If Loria gets involved (what are the odds Loria forces a decision on his baseball people not in the best long term interests of the team, I know) Baez is a south Florida kid -- making him a much easier piece to market.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Not to split Hairs, but Baez was born & raised in P.R., his family moved to Jax, FL (5 hrs N of Miami). He still has lots of family & friends in Jax (Ironically the Suns are Miami's AA team), but he is no more connected to Miami or S. FL than anyone else who speaks spanish.

    O/T, but I've heard he has a pretty good sized entourage at most games and I'm wondering if this is part of what attributed to his early season struggles, because that kid was red hot in ST.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Power has been decent, but they'll need a long term replacement for Soriano. I'd like to see them get some OBP. They're going to lose DeJesus and Valbuena is not a long term answer either -- those are pretty much their best OBP guys.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed. Choo is really the perfect type of player that they're looking for. The problem is, he'll be 31 this winter and he's going to want something like a 5 year, $75M contract the way his season is going right now. Doesn't seem like a deal this FO is looking to hand out.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    If the Cubs get near .500 then Choo could be our Jason Werth type player. When the Nat's looked about a year or 2 away from competing they went and spent big. Choo might be that guy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hey John, I'm curious...if Valbuena were to end the season with 20 bombs, an OPS around .800, and an above average glove would you still feel like he's not a long term answer? Going into his age 28 season...Its fun to speculate and I guess what I'm really asking is this: what would Valbuena have to do to keep his job for say 2013 and 2014 and 2015?

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I think they could do a lot worse. He's a solid player. Gives you good ABs and good defense.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    but that's what was predicted by a LOT of people for this season.

  • i have absolutely no clue, but i think that people need to keep in mind that this f.o. can throw out some smoke and mirrors whenever they feel necessary. it is completely possible that "theo loves gray" is being put out there to lower appels asking price fully knowing that theres a chance appel slides to at least 4, and maybe further if the cubs dont grab him at 2. however i will be happy with either choice, this f.o. does there hw and the guy they choose is gonna be the guy they like best and they know better than i.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I think that's definitely a possibility. I still think Appel best fits the Cubs profile but Appel could definitely drop if the Cubs don't take him and the Cubs could use that as leverage to get a deal done cheaper and more quickly than Appel would like.

    I also think that if this is true, it confirms what we said here the other day that the Cubs believe they will have their choice of pitchers. If they didn't, they'd be using Bryant as leverage.

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    I've been on the Appel train since day one but i'll also concede that if we end up with Gray i'll be fine with that. As long as we get one of the two. I can honestly say I won't be happy with passing up on not one but two possible future aces for a 3rd baseman.

    How many times have we heard that a team was "an Ace away from being a championship contender"? Way more than we've heard "they are a 3rd baseman away from competing for a title".

    You don't pass on guys like these unless you're the Astros.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    An ace is really, really hard to find by any other means than the draft these days and it's a rare opportunity.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I like what Luhnow is doing and I'm a bit uncomfortable with them passing on Gray. As you say, it's rare to get a guy like this.

    On the other hand, Prior vs. Teixeira is a slight warning.

    Raley looks horrific tonight. Even the outs are getting hit hard.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    very true.

  • Mark Appel is the Volvo station wagon. Jonathan Gray is the Corvette.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Id say Appel is more like a Mercedes. Power, control, elegance...the complete package.

    Gray is more of your Corvette. Not the whole package but superior power can make up for a lot of things.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    There goes my effort to get you a Volvo sponsorship for this site. Jeez, John. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink!

  • In reply to Taft:

    Haha! It's just that Volvo's sound so....boring ;)

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    Imagine putting a top of the rotation starter on this team now, especially if the Cubs resign Garza? Few moves in the bullpen (which can be done in one year) and timely hitting and the Cubs are now battling for the playoffs.

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    In reply to Demarrer:

    I feel like if we retain Garza, we can get very good production from our pitching staff

    Our problem is offense; specifically, 3B and OF. We have a bunch of bench/platoon players out there. We need at least 1 more impact bat if we want to contend....maybe 2. And I don't think the immediate answer is in our farm system, at least not for 2014.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Luis V is starting to look more and more like a Legit 3rd baseman to me... he always gives us great at bats...

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    In reply to Nik0522:

    I agree. Surprisingly 3B is not a major hole for us. The outfield is bad, 2B is a major issue and our core has had a poor year (out of the position players).

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    The Cubs have plenty of outfielders and middle infielders with promise in the their system, not many third basemen.

  • Have to completely disagree with you there. They've got third base prospects at every spot in the system right now.

    Vitters has certainly fallen back, but he's still young and still has a shot.

    Villanueva is a legit prospect that hopefully can combine average O at third with great D to be a regular.

    Baez likely ends up at third eventually and is a top prospect.

    And Candelario is a prospect at Kane County with promise.

    Of the 4 teams playing right now, they really only have a hole at 3rd at Daytona, and even so, Baez is there and is a legit candidate.

    I'd actually say that our OF group is pretty weak after the top two. You've got Almora and Soler. Jackson has fallen off but is still a possibility. Shoulders has burst on the scene and is probably a top 20 guy now.

    Then you have a cluster of guys with Hoon-Ha, Szczur, etc. that are in the upper minors and are 4th OFers. And then guys like Trey Martin, Golden, etc. that are raw and a long way off.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    It seems like Soler would fill that spot in a year or two. Need the real deal in the meantime.

  • I always get a little annoyed when there isn't a clear cut number 1 or 2... the first 2 picks should be Obvious, it's annoying to me that there isn't a clear top pitcher if Astros take a hitter.

  • I also saw in the Callis chat yesterday that he has heard rumblings that Meadows may be willing to take a under slot deal to go number 1 overall.

  • In reply to Nick Nesler:

    That's very risky. I can't see the Astros going to that extreme.

  • If I was running the Cubs war room, I would leak that there is an internal debate about which pitcher is better even if there was a cut and dried favorite. Why? It would provide leverage in working out a pre-draft agreement with whoever your guy is (assuming the Astros go with the hitter strategy). Especially if Appel is my guy, you better believe I'd be working these angles to get the price down as much as possible.

  • If its a mind game I think Boras met his match? I hope they pick
    up an extra draft pick.

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    Sorry to chime in so late. The wife and I went to see Oblivion tonight. Speaking of which, if anyone can explain to me what "The Tech" is and how it came to be, message me on FB.

    Anyways, if the FO is leaning Gray, then it's only because they think he'll sign sooner and for less. Appel is the best combination of floor and ceiling hands down, and Bryant is the best hitter. I can think of reasons to draft and not to draft all of them versus the others. However, if Gray is willing to sign for less and sign sooner for the Cubs, then he is probably willing to do it for the Astros as well.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Honestly, Michael, I think you can make a pretty decent case for Gray over Appel without looking at signability. Gray has an 80 fastball. No single pitch of Appel's is that good. That pitch alone makes him a really tough guy for any major league hitter to face. We talk about floors, Appel may be a #3 starter right now, but Gray is Aroldis Chapman right now. And if we're talking pure ceiling, Gray has the highest ceiling in the draft. Assuming Theo trusts Derek Johnson and the pitching people he has in place (full disclosure: I'm not entirely convinced that confidence is justified yet), he would trust them to get Gray to his ceiling.

    I'm still an Appel guy, but if the choice *is* Gray, I think it's a mistake to assume it was signing related. Not to mention pretty unfair to the guy who instantly becomes our #1 prospect.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Here is a link that

    http://bigleaguefutures.net/1/2013/05/30/first-overall-the-case-for-jonathan-gray/

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I agree Gray has the higher ceiling, but he also has the lower floor. What I really meant to infer is that, with everything else being what it is, I could see signability being an issue.

    The other thing worth noting here, to add to you point, is that Boras and his tactics have never been an issue for this FO. If they were shying away from Boras clients like the Astros, they wouldn't have drafted Almora.

    My gut says it's going to be Appel, and if not, it will be Bryant. They know they need to get this pick right, and I think they have a better combination of ceiling and floor than Gray.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I'm starting to think Gray.

  • I think my big board is still Appel, Gray, Bryant. I'd be ecstatic with Appel, though hard not to get upset with Gray either. Bryant's a solid pick and could be huge, but just not my guy.

    As far as 2nd rd goes, would love to get a good college RHP, but those guys all look like there going in the supplemental picks. Was hoping we'd have a shot at a guy like Balog, but seems like he's rising fast. Maybe Andrew Mitchell is there.

    Not sure how I feel about Ziomek, I like the Vandy connection but not a lot of people high on him. Like the Hunter Green pick you brought up earlier this week John. Seems like a guy with some good upside, though inconsistent.

  • The thing is I think they will draft their future 3B in this draft. I am going to wait and see how everyone reacts to this before I go any farther.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    You think the Cubs are taking Bryant? That seems like it'd be a big surprise.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    No I am talking about a HS player from Oklahoma name Trey Michalczewski. He will most likely a 4th round pick and a big sleeper in this draft.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Well that was a bit dramatic.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I knew someone was going to say Bryant so I figured I would have fun with it.

  • I agree with KGallo about Appel and him not signing. This will be the third time being drafted and still potentially a problem in signing early and cheap.

    After watching the video posted here over a month ago, Gray is my choice. If you watched his perfomance, his 2 plus-plus pitches were evident, but his change-up was to me above average especially to lefties. And with some work (as he put into his past year with better conditioning) the foundation is there for him to have a plus change-up. I like the higher ceiling, but would be fine with the higher floor guy too. So, for the first time ever, I am looking forward to an MLB draft, well 4 rounds anyway.

  • This draft is a great example of how tanking is a terrible strategy. The Astros succeeded in getting the No. 1 pick, which is nice, because they have the choice to do whatever they want, but they might not get the best player in this draft, whoever that is, due to their desire to spread out the money. I realize they've invested plenty in scouting, but still there's so little separating these prospects, and there are so many variables. And in the meantime, they're destroying the morale of their team on the field and the fans in the stands.

  • In reply to Taft:

    I don't really see how this draft shows that it's a terrible strategy. Most other teams would see the chance to draft Appel, who is said to have a floor of a #3 and #1 upside, and say that's a great player to add to the system.

    The Astros seem to be taking the strategy that they'd rather get the equivalent of 2-3 first round picks then take the #1 guy on the board. That's where they see the value and clearly they think it's a good strategy. And who knows, they may not even do that this year.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Not only won't Houston get the best player this year (assuming they draft a position player), they didn't the best one last year either. And as bad as their record is this year, Miami is giving them all sorts of competition for that #1 2014 pick. All these guys they're taking are at least a couple years away, too.

  • Anyone know what the signability is for Dillon Overton and where he's expected to fall? Also, any chance Manea drops to 41 and signs?

  • In reply to Bigstevo4000:

    My guess would be if the Astros pick Moron the Money they saved would be used to get Manaea if he is there. As for Overton could go anywhere from the 2nd round to the 3th. I don't see him being a really hard sign either.

  • In reply to Bigstevo4000:

    I don't think he'll be too difficult a sign at 41. As for Manaea, it's possible, but its really becoming a serious question as to whether you want to take him and pay him the money he's going to ask for as a Boras client. He was mid 80s by the end of his season with questions about his hip and arm. He also didnt show front line stuff even when he was healthy -- he's only really shown that kind of stuff in the Cape Cod League. I'm not sure I'd take Manaea with that 2nd pick.

  • Excellent. Would love to see an Appel/Gray and Manea. Heres hoping the Cubs can make a trade for a comp pick! To continue on the Overton question... any idea if the Cubs have been scouting him heavily?

  • Jonathan Gray is pitching right now against Coastal Carolina on ESPN3 if anyone is interested in watching him pitch.

  • Gray pitched a complete game: 2 ER, 11 K , 0 BB, and finished the last batter off with a 102 mph Fastball for a strikeout to end the game.

    Appel's ceiling is probably a 2 on a championship team, Jonathan Gray could win a Cy Young, and be a dominator if things go right.

    The thing that bothers me most about Appel is how straight his fastball is... that makes him much more hittable than he should be with his velocity.

    Gray on the other hand has sick movement on his heater. I REALLY REALLY want Gray for the Cubs (if you couldn't tell, lol)

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Appel's ceiling is a #1 on any team. Because he's polished it doesn't mean he doesn't have serious upside. The way you define a #1 starter in scouting terms is 2 plus pitches and one MLB average or better (Appel has 3 plus), plus-plus command, and plus makeup. Appel is the only one in this draft who comes close to filling in all the boxes with room to improve to plus-plus as far as command. Gray's velo may make him sexier to some, but he's not the pitcher Appel is at this point. Maybe he gets there, maybe not but as the one NL scout said, Appel is the most complete pitcher in the draft and it isn't even close. And hitters hit .213 against him this year. If that's hittable, give me a staff of 5 hittable pitchers.

    This is not a knock against Gray. He has ace potential as well and I'd be thrilled to have him -- he has a higher ceiling, perhaps, but when you're talking two #1s, we're splitting hairs. But to say Appel is a #2 ceiling guy is incorrect. In fact, he is more likely to be a #1 then Gray because he's so much closer to having all the tools need to be that kind of pitcher.

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