MLB Draft Update: Three different 3 round scenarios for the Cubs

MLB Draft Update: Three different 3 round scenarios for the Cubs

This  is not a good year for bats, but one guy in particular has stood out.  Kris Bryant is way ahead of the field in the Division 1 home run race with 30 and some scouts will tell you he'll also be an above average hitter.

Kris Bryant is a 3B and there are mixed opinions as to whether he can stay there but if he doesn't, some believe he'll make a good RF'er because of his solid athleticism and strong arm.

The thing you'll notice if you watch Kris Bryant's swing is that he has a wide stance and a very short stride.  The power is generated with his hips and weight transfer.

He's also a disciplined hitter who is willing to wait for his pitch.  Power, OBP skills, solid athleticism...isn't that a great fit for the Cubs?

The answer is yes, but this year it's not that simple.  Two pitchers have stood out from the pack.  Both have ace potential.  Both should be ready fairly quickly.  I'm talking, of course, about Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray.

But here's what I think.  I believe the Cubs strongly favor Appel.  He more closely fits what they like in their pitchers.  He's more athletic, his command is better, and he has the higher floor.  He already has 3 plus pitches and his mental makeup is said to be off the charts.  That is no knock on Gray, just that Appel seems to fit the Cubs preferred profile better.

The question then becomes -- what if the Astros take Appel?

I think this is where it gets fun to speculate.

Perhaps the gap between Gray and Bryant is closer than it is between either player and Appel.  Might the Cubs change their strategy and go with the safer college bat over the pitcher who's long on stuff but shorter on track record?

It's a draft deep in college pitching and some interesting prep arms start to pop up after the first round as well.  The Cubs should be able to get good pitchers over the next 3 rounds -- not nearly as polished and with much lower floors, but with high enough ceilings where a couple could be 2nd or 3rd starters.   I talked about some of those college RHPs here and the LHPs here.  We'll talk about the prep arms over the next few days.

If the Cubs do take Appel, then I still expect them to go with a pitcher in the 2nd round, but the 3rd round may have some interesting options for the Cubs in terms of bats.  Many of those bats are at two positions of organizational need for the Cubs: 3B and catcher -- and as you'll see, there are a couple of players who could fit at either position.

Here are a few of them:

Third Basemen

  • Trey Michalczewski, (OK):  One of my personal favorites.  He's an athletic, switch-hitting 3B with solid tools across the board.  He already has a good approach and should hit for average and power.  He's a better player than the more hyped Oklahoma prep 3B Drew Ward, who is also on this list.  Really like this kid.  He has a chance to be an above average hitter with above average defense.  I'll post a scouting report by Kevin later.
  • Ryan McMahon, 3B (CA):  Also a good QB, he's very athletic player with leadership skills who needs a lot of polish right now --  but the upside makes him very interesting.  He has a strong commitment to USC, so signing him may be difficult here.  A team that really likes him may need to take him earlier where they  have more pool money to play with.
  • Drew Ward, 3B, (OK):  Comparisons to fellow Okie  Michalczewski are inevitable and what Ward offers is superior power.  He is less athletic, however, and he may actually end up at 1B.  Some scouts would like to try him at catcher where his athletic limitations are mitigated and his strong arm would be an asset.
  • Dustin Peterson, 3B (AZ): He's the younger brother of college 3B DJ Peterson, who should go in the middle of the first round.  Dustin may be more advanced at the same stage.  His strengths are quick hands and a fundamentally sound swing.  Should hit for average and power.  Wonder if one of the teams who miss out on older brother DJ may go for Peterson in the 2nd round, however.
  • Travis Demerrite (GA): Athletic, quick twitch player who is a SS now but will move to 3B as a pro.  Needs to work on approach, but could eventually have above average power.  Not likely to get past 2nd round, though, and  the Cubs may go pitcher and go with one of the top 3 or 4 guys on this list instead.


  • Dom Nunez H.S. (CA): An athletic catcher (former SS) with solid tools across the board and the kind of intangibles scouts like in a catcher.
  • Tyler O'Neill H.S.  (BC): O'Neill is built like a mack truck.  He's solidly build at 6'0, 215 lbs. and has great bat speed.  He can hit a good fastball and hit it a long way.  The problem is he doesn't really want to catch.  He has the arm for 3B, but may not be quick enough for the infield.
  • Andrew Knapp, U. of California:  He's just switching to the position now, so he needs work but Knapp has the bloodlines.  His father Mike caught professionally for 11 years.  He's athletic and has taken a big leap as a hitter this year.
  • Chris Okey, C, (FL): I think Okey is a bit of a sleeper in this group and my personal favorite.  He project to be an above average hitter though power is question.  Like last year's pick Albert Almora, Okey has a ton of experience for a high school player, having played with Team USA 3 times (in fact, he was a teammate of Almora's at one point).  Still needs to work on catching skills but I think he has the natural ability and work ethic to stick there.

3-Round Draft Scenarios

So here are my three scenarios for the first 3 rounds, depending on what Houston does...

Scenario 1:  If Houston does not take Appel:

  1. Mark Appel
  2. Best available player.  I think Appel's high certainty factor gives them some leeway in terms of position, though they may not have the money to sign an overslot like Ryan Boldt.  I think it gives them the opportunity to gamble on an arm like RHP Jason Hursh or LHP Dillon Overton.
  3. High school bat with my favorites being 3B Trey Michalczewski and C Chris Okey.

Scenarios 2 and 3:  If Houston takes Appel

Scenario 2:

  1. Jonathan Gray
  2. Higher probability college pitcher such as RHPs Aaron Blair, Andrew Thurman or Alex Balog.  
  3. Trey Michalczewski or Chris Okey

Scenario 3:

  1. Kris Bryant
  2. Best available college arm
  3. Best available pitcher -- likely a high school arm with upside.

Filed under: MLB Draft


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  • My only issue is that I don't necessarily believe 3B is a need. We have someone who could be above average (again, could) up and down the org.
    MLB: Valbuena
    AAA: Vitters and Lake (whenever he gets back)
    AA: Christian Villanueva
    A+: Baez
    A: Amaya

    Baez and Amaya don't currently play 3B but either could definitely end up over there eventually.

  • In reply to doogolas:

    Should never worry about need early in the draft. I think you take the best players available and in the 3rd round area, a lot of those happen to be 3Bs.

    Baez and a couple of the guys I mentioned are all good athletes so things will work itself out.

  • In reply to doogolas:

    Lots of scouts think Bryant is an OF prospect anyway. I would be much higher on him if he was a sure bet to stay at 3rd.

  • In reply to Tide23:

    I know a lot that think he can stay too. The main concern is that he is too big but I think that is just a cop out and them covering their butts.

  • The draft is just never going to stir my interest. Of all these prospects I'm betting that not 10% ever reach the bigs, and many of those who do are grossly mis-handled. A fella named Prior comes to mind.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Well, the best teams build use the draft as a major building piece and the Cubs fully intend to be one of those teams.

    There will be no more important long term acquisition this year than the Cubs will make in the draft, so you can choose to be cynical if you like -- but the past 2 drafts, this one, and probably the next one will go a long way in determining whether the Cubs are able to consistently produce talent whether than having to buy it every year until they run out of money.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    That's why I lean towards best player over highest need. I mean, just look at our rotation now. It's deep. It's performing well.

    If Bryant is starting to look like a better bet to succeed as a hitter, no matter what position he sticks at, then that's who you want.

    These prospects may end up getting traded anyway. But they are also young - Baez could end up literally anywhere on the field. Bryant could end up at any corner. We just want waves and waves of talent, and if Appel and Gray don't look like guaranteed aces, then why bother? Bats give you a better chance of success - that's been proven.

    I want Bryant now.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    I feel like this is at least the 4th or 5th draft post you've entered to say that. If you aren't interested, no one is requiring you to 1) read the post or 2) post a response.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Exactly ;) Saturday is a day I've designated for the draft. There's a lot of interest, but I understand not everyone wants to talk about it, but there are always a lot of people who do want to talk about it. I think it's fair to designate a day a week -- and sometimes two, for what may be the most important addition the Cubs will make this season.

  • Scenerio #2 is unlikely because I don't see those pitchers being available in the 2nd round. I think there will be a lot of good pitchers will be available just not those 3.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I just chose 3 favorites. I think Thurman probably goes in the first round, same with Gonzalez --whom I like but didn't mention, maybe Blair in the supplemental, but Balog? I've seen him as a possible 3rd rounder in some mocks. I'm sure at least one good college arm will make it through -- especially since I think there will be a rush to get the few good bats available early.

  • Does anyone know the extent to which the Cubs have scouted Bryant? One interesting point on the draft is that KLaw- who to his credit only engages in informed speculation- seems adamant that it's Appel or Gray for the Cubs.

    There is part of that me that feels that Bryant is the type of made-to-order stick that can become a core piece to a winning lineup in pretty short order. Taking all that into consideration, I think , barring a late injury, there's NO way they pass up Appel , if he's around. If HOU takes Appel there's maybe a shot that they look at Bryant.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    They have over 30 HRs of video on Bryant.

    Most scouts think Law is a quack.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    The guy talks to a lot of scouts and front office people, you can't dismiss him because you disagree with him. I read him often and he's been one of the more accurate guys year in and year out. He's not infallible and maybe he rubs some people the wrong way, but he knows his stuff.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I an dismissing him because I have had several scout call him a quack. Their words not mine. "He ranks them below their floor and only changes them when it is going to make him look bad" quote from a scout. A perfect example of this is Dominic Smith he called him the most overrated hitter in the draft now he has ranked him at 10 (or so I am told) in the draft class. He makes quick and rash judgement on players. He himself on a recent College game on ESPN U said he is lucky in he sees most of the players in the draft once. Sorry that to me is like a movie critic basing his review on a movie trailer.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Isn't that common? I was under the impression that many scouts only see most of the draft prospects once in a season. And area scouts may see some players multiple times but won't see all that many out of the whole draft.

    I admit that I'm a fan of Law's, but I view him more as a writer than a scout; someone who can translate what he hears from scouts to an ignorant amateur like myself. I can certainly see how he may rub people the wrong way, and I often disagree with his more conservative opinions. But again, I am often very ignorant of the subject, so I like to gather as many opinions as possible and then ignore the ones I don't personally agree with.

  • In reply to ChuckR:

    No most scouts have a area of about a 100 mile radius. They see players at least 4 to 5 times maybe more if they are really interest in a player. I know in early April the Cubs had seen Bryant's 45 innings and I am sure they have seen him much more than that since then.

    As for Law I am just listening to the people I respect on how they view him. He isn't very respected among his peers either.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Cool, thanks for the insight.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    That should be 30 hours of video.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    They've scouted him and they've sent out some FO types, from what I understand -- but they've been at every Appel and Gray game, so I still lean pitcher. The 3rd scenario is the most unlikely and probably only happens if the Cubs lose faith in Gray or something unexpected happens.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    They are not going to see every game of s college position player though. It is easy to go every game for a college pitcher they throw once a week. Position players can play up to 5 times a week. That is a lot of man power lost on other prospects. They have one Area Scout that covers all of Orange and San Diego Counties. He has a 4 people under him there are a lot of good players in those areas. They don't want to miss any of them. Two of the players you have mentioned Thurman and McMahon are in that area.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I know you like Bryant and you're pushing for him, but there really is no question where there focus has been -- and it's been with the pitchers.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I am just saying showing up at every game for a pitcher is a lot easier then for a position player without missing key prospects. I think it is mostly a moot point because I think the Astros will take him anyways.

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    Interesting looks at guys most of us have never heard of John.

    I for one (even though my opinion does not matter) would love to see Bryant in Cubbie Blue. The high risk for first round pitchers and the scouting reports that have been discussed should make this point very clear. If the scouts are correct and he has 80 power with a 55 or better hit tool then we need him I don't care that he may not stay at 3rd. Guys with those kind of general skills you make a place for. Remember Albert "Joey" Belle? He couldn't find a position but then everyone remembered what brought him to the dance.

    I am not really informed a lot about the 2nd and or 3rd round selections to make an educated guess at what the Cubs or any team will do but the idea that they take a high floor College guy at 2 after taking Bryant first makes sense.

    For the last ten years it seems the Cubs drafts are talked about who they missed on more than who they took. Lets hope that this draft is not one of them. Take the safe bet and lets see Soler, Rizzo and Bryant in the middle of our line up for the next 8 years.

  • In reply to Richard Hood:

    That's the argument for Bryant in a nutshell but we have to remember, the Cubs will take the guy they think is best in the first round, period. Position or specific skill is a factor but not the ultimate deciding factor. They'll put it all together and determine who the best available player is. I think Appel is at the top of their list and Gray is second -- but Bryant may be closing gap.

  • Here's another question: if the Cubs were able to grab Appel- who's basically ready on Day1- does that impact their thought process on Garza? It sounds like Garza decision will be primarily impacted by spread between value of compensatory pick & what is offered @ the deadline. I really think, all other things being equal, they'd like to move him.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think those decisions are independent, but it would make losing Garza easier to swallow. I think the Cubs will take the path with Garza that gives them the best value -- whether they determine that means signing him to a team friendly extension or dealing him for prospects.

  • i really like scenario #1 a lot.

    appel is my favorite and i like overton a lot as well.

    Michalczewski and Okey are also 2 of my favorites from this list, but id rather have michaelczewski becuase hes a switch hitter and a better talent, although okey has a higher ceiling i think its reasonable to gamble that he drops to the 4th, not likely but possible.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    i get the feel the Stros will take Bryant , just my opinion having read many scenerios. I think the Cubs will have thier choice of the 2 arms. I prefer Gray myself . I shoot for the guy with the highest ceiling everytime . If the Cubs developement staff does the job i think they can i take the 80 FB .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    The one thing that makes me doubt they'll take Bryant is the fact that he hired Scott Boras and will hamper their ability to do a pre-draft deal and reallocate to overslots. Boras knows Bryant is going top 3, so he won't take a discount to go #1. He'll get close to the $5M Houston is likely to offer if he drops to the Rockies, so he may demand more from the Astros -- and at the very least he'll hold out as long as he can to get it.

    One rumor has them going for Moran, who may not go any higher than 5 if Astros don't take him. More leverage there for the Astros.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I saw Luhnow and the other people from the Astros talking to Boras on Wednesday. I don't think Boras is going to scare them off this time.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    We don't know what was said though. It could well have been:

    Luhnow: "Will you take a pre-draft deal of $5.5 million for Bryant?"

    Boras: "Add $10 million to that and you have yourself a deal."

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It was a long conversation then that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    To be completely honest I don't understand why Houston is even considering drafting gray or appel, both guys should be in the majors st some point next year and if they are as good as there ceilings suggest then they will help Astros win games, which isn't really something thst there trying to do for a few years. if u ask me they should take kohl stewart give him 4-5 mil and use the rest on big time overslots for their next few picks. It just makes sense with where there organization is at right now.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Be they are in control when the players are brought up. They don't have to bring them up until they are ready to bring them up.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    There is a slight chance that a pitcher name Akeem Bostick who has a lot of upside in the 4th round.

  • At what point does BJax get his shot at regular playing time with the ML club? Another two weeks of progress @ Iowa?

    He isn't getting any younger and he's approaching the make-or-break point with our organization. Given his #want and physical tools, I'm still holding out a semblance of hope.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Carl9730:

    It might be a stretch of luck, or maybe that new swing is starting to work, but the K-rate is dropping.

    I don't think there is a rush...... he needs to have 1/2 season at least of unqualified success at Iowa, before a promotion. No need to rush it and blow his confidence.

    If he continues to progress, the Cubs will accelerate efforts to move DeJesus, and B-Jax will come up at that point. But not before. The OF is croweded, they need to move a player or two first.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think they need a bigger sample and really, there's no room for him to play anyway. They're going to need a deal to make room and that may not happen until July -- if at all.

  • Another nice article, John.
    Scenario #1 please

  • In reply to fsufrenzy911:

    Thanks. That's my favorite as well.

  • Just only 30 more articles left from Cubs Den of who the Cubs might draft......

    Before Matt Garza returns, the Cubs need to.....

    A - Send Bowden to the DL
    B - Trade Marmol to _______(Fill in the Blank)
    C - Send Sweeny back to Iowa
    D - Talk to Dodgers G.M. of a possible Garza trade before Tuesday.

    Rumor has it that the Cubs will replace the third base coach with a traffic light......

    Whoever the Cubs do draft, lets hope we don't hear about a TJ surgery happening afterwards.....

    Cubs are not just drafting a top notch prospect....the Cubs front office are just starting to get on their knees and starting to suck up to Scott Boras and his demands.

    This might be the Cubs draft that defines the Theo Era.

  • fb_avatar

    Nice piece, John. I think we may end up with Jonathan Gray -- but it's entirely possible that in two years we'll wish we had the #3 pick and were forced into Bryant. We'll know soon enough. Looking forward to draft day with all of you.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think Bryant will be a solid MLB regular, maybe more and if he plays in Colorado he has a chance to put up some great numbers. So I'm expecting there will always be second guessing on this pick if Gray or Appel don't become aces.

    Just over 2 weeks away, can't wait until that comes, but it's always a busy day here so I'll need to get some sleep and fire up the coffee.

  • There is another thought Garza will have 3 starts before the draft. Could the Royals trade be in play?

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Hope so. That's the perfect world scenario, right? Get a pick and prospects from the Royals, Garza doesn't re-sign with them, Cubs pick him back up this offseason. Cubs get value from Garza this year AND have him a few extra years.

    Any opinions on Ventura? Seems that scouts disagree over whether he's a pen guy or a starter. Would hate to trade Garza for a guy that likely ends up in the pen. Of course, the Royals could just make it easy on us and give us a PTBNL that later becomes Kyle Zimmer. ;)

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I still think 34th pick is the big prize specially if they could pick up another very good College arm or many even Boldt.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    kgallo could you or john give me some info on this Boldt kid. ive been hearing a lot about him lately but I still dont much about him. thanks.

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    I have a report on him and john has it. It was one of my 1st so I should revise it. But it is on if you want a quick peek at it.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I thought Boldt was a top 20 pick? Why would he slide all the way to the 2nd round?

  • In reply to fsufrenzy911:

    He had to have surgery on his knee. Nothing serious but it could cause him to fall a little bit.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    PTBNLs are usually not the jewels of a system but I hear ya! We really need that kind of return for talent like Garza and DeJesus. If we don't get a good return there is no reason to do the trade unless Garza does not want to be here.

  • fb_avatar

    Rizzo with a dinger!!!! Off a lefty too!!!!!

  • In reply to Sportsgod:


  • I like scenario 1. Should love to see them go for Bolt if available.

    I do not recognize the three pitchers at the second pick in scenario 2. They have not been in many of the Mock drafts I've been seeing the last six months or so. I bet if you made a list of all the players you don't think would be available for us at 2 the total number would be more than 41.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    I think we have a profile on all of the on

  • Where did my comment go? Into the ether?

  • Wow now it shows up.

  • Do the Cubs have a chance to get Denney with their second selection? He was high on lists at beginning of year but his stock has supposedly dropped. I would be pleased to get him in the 2nd round but I have a feeling he won't even last though the first considering he is a catcher. I would also be thrilled to get either Eades or Williams but I seriously doubt they will be available either. Hey KC here is David DeJesus please give us your competitive balance pick!
    Thanks for the great article. I love this site

  • In reply to Tide23:

    He won't make it that far and I heard he has problems hitting FB over 87.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Yeah, I didn't think he would fall that far. If he cannot hit an 88+ mph fastball he is in trouble

  • I heard he was getting tied up with 86 mph Fastballs. He looks really good behind the plate.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Given that, is he really worth a Round 1 pick where 90% or more have 87+ mph fastballs?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    He has some nice power and is a very good Defensive catcher but for me No. He is a 2nd talent now.

  • Once again, nice article John.

    1) Any thoughts on why former #1 3B Josh Vitters has failed (thus far)? And how does 3B Kris Bryant differ from Vitters? That is, what does Kris Bryant have that Josh Vitters does not?

    2) Is Kris Bryant a senior or can Boros pull another Appel scenario with him this year?

    3) And I'd leave off Drew Ward (3B who is athletically-limited and doomed to place 1B). Sorry, but the athletically-challenged Dan Vogelbach (my favorite) has that role.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    1) more power, more polished and more Athletic.

    2) He is not a Senior but I don't see Boris pulling the same thing Twice.

  • Vitters may eventually fail, but his record shows that he needs a full season at each level to figure it out. When someone gives him that chance we will finally find out.

  • I think the #34 pick is the difference between a good draft and a great draft. I really hope we can get a deal done with KC!

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