The draft is less than a month away now and things are really coming into focus at the top of the draft. The top 3 players, barring any surprise signability type picks, are Stanford RHP Mark Appel, Oklahoma RHP Jonathan Gray, and U. of San Diego 3B-OF Kris Bryant.
The industry says the Cubs are locked into taking a pitcher -- whichever one the Astros don't take-- and I've been hearing the same thing. The word is that the Cubs prefer Appel but will take Gray if he's gone. However, the Cubs are insisting to some that this is not necessarily the case.
Of course, it's hard to know what is fact and what is fiction as the draft nears. One thing we do know is that Cubs scouts have attended every start by Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray this spring.
And as one AL Scouting Director said according to Baseball America,
“There’s a severe difference between those two and everyone else.”
The alternative would be Kris Bryant, who has some all-around skills but really has one tool -- power -- that stands out. That choice seems very unlikely right now. In the event that the Cubs do select Bryant, I'd expect them to stock up on pitching in subsequent rounds -- but they may end up doing that no matter who they pick first.
Here are how a few experts see the draft. Law's is not a mock draft. He usually does his 2-3 weeks before the draft so that should be coming soon. He did release a top 100, however, and Jonathan Gray is in the 2nd spot. Baseball America, however, had Gray #1 and Appel #2 in their top 100.
Good year to have a top 2 pick, it seems.
- Scout.com mock draft (free)
- Jim Callis mock draft (subscription required)
- Baseball America top 100 (subscription required)
- Keith Law's top 100 (subscription required)
Friday Night Performances
- Unfortunately, Cubs fans with ESPN U did not get a chance to see Jonathan Gray. He will get the start on Saturday and it will not be televised.
- Mark Appel did pitch and he struggled a bit, lasting just 5 innings and allowing 6 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits. He also had some uncharacteristic command issues, walking 5 hitters and striking out 4. He threw 103 pitches in all.
- Kris Bryant went 2 for 5 and hit his 26th HR of the year. He's now hitting .335/.506/.855. Bryant is looking more and more like a lock to go in the top 3 and maybe even as a signability #1 pick to Houston, but Bryant signed on with hard line agent Scott Boras, so that may well end any chance that Houston will pick Bryant. He's a good bet to go 3rd to the Rockies, however.
- UNC's Colin Moran is really coming on strong late in the year and is now a top 5 candidate for the draft. He hit his 13th HR of the year and walked twice. He's hitting .387/.512/.651. He very likely won't be the Cubs pick, but he's a pretty safe college bat who could go top 5 if teams think he can stay at 3B.
- LHP Sean Manaea is no longer in the running for the top two but he's still a top 5 candidate if he's healthy. Reports had him in the 85-87 mph range in the 4th inning in his last start. This start he put up good numbers: 7IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 Ks -- but that was against Alcorn State.
- An interesting player who may suddenly be available in round 2 is Minnesota high school OF'er Ryan Boldt. Boldt was projected to go as high as the middle of the first round but an injury has him sliding to right around the Cubs range in round 2. Of course, there's a catch. Boldt may now just choose to go to college and improve his stock -- but if the Cubs can save enough money with their first pick, then maybe they can make Boldt an overslot offer he can't refuse.
- The three top catchers are now firmly in the first round and there's no catcher worth taking after those three with the 41st pick.
- Pitching may be the best value in round 2. The college crop is deep and that depth may also help push down some higher level high school pitching to the Cubs. There should be a pretty good prep lefty available to the Cubs in that range. Law has pitchers like Robert Kaminsky, Matt Krook, Cody Reed, Jacob Brentz, Blake Taylor, Garrett Williams, Hunter Green, and even Ian Clarkin in that range. Some have Clarkin as a mid first round talent, including Baseball America. BA also has Robert Kaminsky in the first round and Hunter Green going toward the end of first round/early supplemental. Whatever the case, it seems very likely that at least one of these arms will be available to the Cubs and we'll go over prep lefties in a second update later this weekend.
Filed under: MLB Draft