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It has arrived. The night that marks the beginning of what many are calling the Chicago Cubs’ most important Draft in years. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I do agree that the next three days are easily among the most important days of the year for the Cubs.

The Cubs pick sixth overall in the first round, and then again at 43 and 56. Assuming they eventually sign, the Cubs will nab three excellent prospects this evening. The latest scuttlebutt has them taking polished high school outfielder Albert Almora with their first pick, but you never know for sure how these things will play out. The Cubs are believed to be considering, together with Almora, kids like high school shortstop Carlos Correa, high school pitcher Max Fried, college pitchers Kevin Gausman and Kyle Zimmer, and college catcher Mike Zunino. Or the Cubs could throw us all a curveball and take someone no one expects, like college pitcher Michael Wacha.

Things get underway at 6pm CT, and you can watch on MLB Network, or a stream at MLB.com.

We’ll cover the picks here live, for the top half of the first round, and then again as we approach the Cubs’ supplemental round picks. Throughout, I reckon there will be a steady stream of salient thoughts dropped in the comments, on the Message Board, on Twitter, and on Facebook. So join in, wherever your preference for chatting might lie.

Away we go…

Pre-Draft UPDATE: Kevin Goldstein says college pitcher Kevin Gausman will not be on the board at six, to which I said “sad trombone.” He then encouraged me to “be happy with Almora.”

The Picks…

1. Wow, the Houston Astros surprise everyone and take high school shortstop Carlos Correa with the top pick. Also, there are sudden rumors of the O’s and Royals surprising by taking Max Fried and Chris Stratton, respectively. That could really shake things up for the Cubs at six.

2. No surprise, the Minnesota Twins take high school outfielder Byron Buxton. Seattle’s got an interesting choice now.

3. Well, it was thought that the Mariners would take Mike Zunino for a long time, and they did. But, then again, that was when folks thought Mark Appel would be off the board. In any event, it’s the Florida catcher for the Mariners.

4. Crud. The Orioles select Kevin Gausman, the pitcher from LSU. He wasn’t expected to still be available for the Cubs at six, but with things going nutty at the top of the Draft, there was a chance. Bummer. Appel still on the board, but I bet the Royals take him. If so, the Cubs will probably be choosing from among Almora, Fried, and Zimmer.

5. The Royals took San Francisco pitcher Kyle Zimmer, so now the Cubs have a very tough choice. Try and sign Appel, who might be the best pitcher in the Draft? Risk him rejecting $3.25 million?

6. As expected by many – and predicted by me – the Cubs take high school outfielder Albert Almora, even with Appel still on the board. The Cubs have wanted Almora for a while, and wanted him over many of the guys who went ahead of him. I’m thinking the Cubs are happy to get Almora, and if they like him that much, then I’m happy, too. We’ll have quite a bit more on Almora over the coming days – some believe that, when he signs, he’ll instantly become the best prospect in the Cubs’ system behind Anthony Rizzo. Given everyone in the industry’s certainty about the Almora pick in the days leading up to the Draft, I can’t help but wonder whether they’ve already had some serious money discussions, and whether Almora might be a quick sign. That would be awesome.

7. The Padres take Max Fried, as expected by many. I bet he was the Cubs’ other choice at six, but they wanted Almora more. As the first round goes on, I’ll update these picks periodically. Don’t forget, the Cubs pick again later tonight at numbers 43 and 56.

8. Whoa, the Pirates step up and take Mark Appel, the big-time starter out of Stanford. We’ll see if they can figure out a way to sign him.

9. The Marlins take OK State pitcher, Andrew Heaney.

10. The Rockies take high school outfielder David Dahl.

11. The Oakland A’s take high school shortstop Addison Russell.

12. The New York Mets take high school shortstop Gavin Cecchini.

13. The White Sox take high school outfielder Courtney Hawkins, who’s a nice pick at that spot. Good for them.

14. The Reds take high school pitcher, Nick Travieso.

15. The Indians take Texas A&M outfielder Tyler Naquin.

16. The Nationals take the big risk (big reward) by selecting high school pitcher Lucas Giolito. He’s a consensus top 5 talent with an injured UCL in his elbow (yes, that’s the ligament that is replaced in Tommy John surgery). He says he’s healthy, but he hasn’t thrown off a mound yet. So, he slipped, and now the Nats will have to figure out how to sign him, because he’s not going to take a pay cut.

17. The Blue Jays take high school outfielder D.J. Davis.

18. The Dodgers take yet another high school position player, Corey Seager. Starting to wonder whether the Cubs’ plan to take pitchers later might be a good move.

19. The Cardinals get a freaking steal in taking arguably the fourth best college pitcher in the Draft, Texas A&M righty Michael Wacha. Freaking Cardinals. They always draft well.

20. The Giants take Mississippi State pitcher Chris Stratton.

21. The Braves take high school pitcher Lucas Sims. The Braves are always right about young pitchers, so you can pencil him into the rotation for 2017.

22. The Blue Jays take Marcus Stroman, a pitcher out of Duke who could actually be the first player in the Draft to make it to the bigs. He is a tremendous pitcher who could have gone 10 picks higher, but is thought of as a reliever, only. Those types tend to slide, even if they’re dominant.

23. The Cardinals might have just been the first team to try and take someone they feel they can sign way under slot by taking college senior, James Ramsey out of Florida State. I hope they’re wrong and he squeezes them. You know, with no leverage…

24. The Red Sox get college shortstop Deven Marrero, who could have gone as high as 8 to the Pirates. This is more where his talent level is, though.

25. The Rays take Clemson third baseman Richie Shaffer.

26. The Diamondbacks take the awesomely-named high school catcher Stryker Trahan.

27. The Brewers take high school catcher Clint Coulter, one of the few kids actually in attendance for the Draft.

28. The Brewers take Georgia Southern outfielder Victor Roache.

29. The Rangers take high school outfielder Lewis Brinson.

30. The Yankees take high school pitcher Ty Hensley.

31. The Red Sox take Florida pitcher Brian Johnson.

And that ends the first round of the Draft. I won’t cover every pick in the supplemental first round, but obviously I’ll drop the names of the Cubs’ picks, and an early take on them, as well. The first of the two should be coming in about 20 minutes or so.

43. The Chicago Cubs take right-handed college pitcher Pierce Johnson out of Missouri State. It sounds like he was a kid who was going to go much higher, but had an injury issue. Here’s MLB.com’s take: “Johnson was moving quickly up Draft boards, but a forearm strain put that on pause. He came back and threw well, with plenty of time to show everyone he’s fully healthy leading up to the Draft. Johnson has a good three-pitch mix starting with a fastball that is plus at times, touching 94 mph. He’s more successful when he keeps it down in the zone, which he does when he repeats his delivery well. Johnson throws a hard curve that works as an effective out pitch, missing more bats than he does with the fastball. He doesn’t use the changeup as much, but it has the potential to be at least an average pitch in the future. He throws strikes and competes very well on the mound. Assuming he’s healthy, Johnson should join a solid group of college starters who could go off the board shortly after the top tier, profiling well as a No. 3-type starter at the highest level.” Sounds like, if healthy, the Cubs got nice value at 43.

56. The Chicago Cubs take Paul Blackburn out of Heritage High School in California, and he’s apparently a “strong” commitment to Arizona State. In other words, he’s a tough sign, and is what, in years past, we would have called an “overslot” type. MLB.com’s take: “After a big performance at last summer’s Area Code Games, Blackburn has continued pitching well this spring to keep him firmly on the prospect map. The NoCal high schooler has a good fastball that hits 92 mph consistently and will touch a tick or two higher on the radar gun at times. His two secondary offerings – a curve and a changeup – both have the chance to be very effective pitches. He’s generally around the strike zone and thanks to his athleticism and sound delivery, his command should only improve with experience. The Arizona State recruit has some projectability, meaning his already pretty good stuff has room to get even better. That should get him off the board early enough to keep him from heading to Arizona.” I imagine the Cubs wouldn’t have taken him if they didn’t have a plan to sign him, so I’m sure they love his upside.

And that concludes the live coverage for the first round. Obviously we’ll have A LOT more on these three players tomorrow and in the coming weeks. And, a reminder, things don’t end tonight – there are still two more days of Draft coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday.

  • nkniacc

    I think Oakland may have been the first to take signablity over talent

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Cubs should go with young starting pitching with their next few picks. Supposedly a lot of high upside kids with good velocity will still be there after 30 picks.

    • Billy

      It’ll be really tough to sign hs kids that late in the draft with these new CBA restrictions. Especially when they can go to college fo a year or two and get into the top 10

  • DocPeterWimsey

    So, how are the ChiSox going to play cheapskates with the new CBA?

  • hcs

    White Sox take Sadie Hawkins? That’s a turnabout.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Is it just me, but Bud Selig looks like the drunken oblivious uncle at Thanksgiving I can’t ever get away from.

  • http://Ehanauer.com Clark Addison

    Bud light talks like he has a mouthful of mush.

  • gutshot5820

    Interestingly, Pittsburgh has to draft underslot for the rest of the draft in order to sign Appel. If they can’t sign him, they basically blew their entire draft.

  • nkniacc

    Interesting Re take a pitcher some has as a sup pick

  • Phaedrus

    I missed the Reyonlds’ remarks that are drawing interest … Can I ask what he said?

    • beerhelps

      look near bottom of page 5, covered there

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I hope the Nationals can’t sign him. I’d rather him fall in a future draft and hopefully the cubs can get him in a future draft. Love Giolito

  • beerhelps

    Nationals trying to set up a dominant staff, eventually

    • Billy

      They might end up with the best staff ever…that’s all on the DL at the same time

      • beerhelps

        After Wood and Prior, I’m not sure i should laugh at that, but it’s funny cause it’s true.

  • Phaedrus

    You have to like the position players the Cubs are stockpiling – lots of options, some of which will have to pan out … What we have + what we might acquire in trades this summer should result in fairly deep and talented system.

  • JulioZuleta

    Where’d you go, Brett?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m here. I don’t have a ton of thoughts on these picks – can’t pretend I know the players, and can’t pretend I care all that much about who takes ‘em until we get back near the Cubs’ picks.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        About twenty picks away.  That’s what, another hour and a half?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          The whole thing is supposed to end just after 10pm CT, so you’d think sooner, but they are going VERY slowly. So, I think you’re right.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        (also, I’m updating the post, monitoring Twitter/Facebook/Message Board, and reading the comments – fills my time more quickly than you might think)

        • JulioZuleta

          Is it still 5 min between picks tomorrow?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            No. Shrinks considerably. 1:30 maybe?

            • JulioZuleta

              Thank God. 18 picks away and still a lot of exciting guys on the board.

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Wow, if the Nats can talk him into signing, they just set up the best rotation in baseball in a couple of years by a country mile. All of the sudden the Nats will be THE place to go.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Nah.  Assuming everyone stays healthy, I’ll take the rotation in Arizona over Washington.

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Oops…

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Really? I guess it is just preference at that point. I would take Strasburg in a big game environment over anything the D-Backs have. Then add Zimmerman and the kid (if he is what we all think he can be), and you have the makings of a dominant staff.

  • Dave

    Hey, a Dick Tidrow reference on MLB Network.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The Mayans were right.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    At the rate bats are going off the board, the Cubs could score some very nice pitchers in the supplemental round.

    • Billy

      I really know nothing about guys outside the top 10, any chance there’s a #2 or 3 starter left when the Cubs pick next?

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Agreed. This night is coming together beautifully. Still curious on not going after Appel if it was a money thing, or if we just thought that much of Almora.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        They’ll say it’s the latter, but I’m sure money was a factor.

        • Kyle

          I’m not so sure. Epstein and Co. have their own draft board, and they place a high emphasis on teachability and work ethic. When there were rumors the Cubs had them at the top of their draft board regardless, I sort of believed it.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Oh I know. I wouldn’t say for sure either way – I guess I’m more just saying that it’s not like the teams that passed on Appel all did so because they think he’s not a top 5 talent.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Scott Boras will cite you on that….

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I’m all for us picking up some good arms. Luke could you give me 3 guys that might be around for our next picks, who I should be rooting for to slip to us?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        The pipe dream is Matt Smoral, a good high school LHP who could have been near the top ten if it were not for a broken bone in his foot.

        I’m still eyeing LHPs Alex Wood and Hunter Virant.

        • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

          Hopefully he does fall. He is a big kid so bone issues will cause issues. I hope we get him as well.

          • djriz

            Keep an eye on Walker Weichel, Zach Eflin, and Duane Underwood.
            All considered borderline first round talents.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Cards might have just been the first team to try and take someone they feel they can sign way under slot right there. I hope they’re wrong.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      I guess I just don’t understand signing a kid under slot with the talent that is there this year. Very weak class. What do you really gain by not taking the top talent in a weak class? I could understand if it was a really deep class, but not this year.

  • beerhelps

    They just said the guy the Cards just drafted doesn’t have a big tool …. very childish but I enjoyed that a lot.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No such thing as childish when it comes to having fun at the Cardinals’ expense.

    • Billy

      Not childish at all, I still giggle at every enuendo from a sports announcer no matter what sport

    • Babe Ruth

      Thanks for the laugh lol ummm I mean wow that’s very immature!

      • Cubbie Blues

        One of my favorites was Dan Patrick talking about Yankees pitching and said, “I love Wang.”

        • Babe Ruth

          Lol I should be going to bed, but I enjoy reading all the comments. Porn used to be my favorite thing about the Internet, until I found bleachernation.

        • Billy

          My favorite is when any hockey announcer says “and the Blackhawks takes it in their own end” the middle schooler in me always comes out and I laugh

    • cubfanincardinalland

      He will fit right in with the rest of them bums then.

  • Luke D

    Give me my boy Jankowski!

    Let’s. Go. Cubs.

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Deven Marrero to the Red Sox. He will move fast.

    • Cooper R

      By need? They have Iglesias.

      • Jarder

        At this point Iglesias looks like a defensive replacement and not a starter. You have to hit at least .250 to make the defense worth it.

        • Cooper R

          True but the knock on Marrero was his offense as well.

          • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

            True, but the upside on Marrero as a defender, and chance to be a better hitter, is better than was Iglesias brings. Marrero wasn’t being picked for upside. He was being picked for need. He is the fast riser type. Theo V2.0 feels it was the right move for the quick riser, or he would have went upside.

  • JoeCub

    LMFAO at negative comments I’ve seen on a couple boards, bitching about passing on Appel. Is the new slot budget system so damn hard to figure out? It’s beyond obvious Appel fell a/c $$ demands. Putting your entire draft on one shoulder is stupid; especially for the Cubs who need as many chances at hitting draft gold as possible.

    • Billy

      That’s one of the reasons I’m fond of this board. Seems the more educated fans come here

    • calicubsfan007

      I think someone said this on this site about how drafting a pitcher, whether good or not, can keep a large majority of the fans happy. Even if he sucks, there are fans who care more about the player’s name or what ESPN’s top plays show. Its ridiculous.

  • beerhelps

    Lots of catchers taken so far, anyone who follows the draft closely, is that normal? catchers, OF’s, a couple 3rd baseman seems like it so far for position players.

    • Kyle

      At draft time, you basically have CFers, SSs, C’s and hitters without a true position. The ones with any defensive skill at all were probably the best players on their HS or college team, so they play CF or SS. Then they get moved to 2b or the corners as they get into pro ball with better teammates.

      • beerhelps

        Thx. Figured something along those lines, just wondered.

  • calicubsfan007

    I can’t access the draft in my tv, any other way to keep track of the Cubs’ picks? And when are the comp picks supposed to happen?

    • Babe Ruth

      Cub.com has a link for a free live feed I’ve been watching on my phone

      • calicubsfan007

        Thanks

  • cubsin

    Supposedly it’s being tracked on mlb.com. The comp picks start after the first round, so in about 15 minutes.

    • calicubsfan007

      And thanks

  • Kyle

    Very interesting comment over at Baseball America:

    “His instincts allow him to play center field at a high level; one scout said he was a 40 runner with 80 range and said he played center field like some players do shortstop, being instinctual rather than reactive like almost all outfielders.”

    40 speed is borderline average for a major-leaguer (all positions, not just CF). It’s hard for me to imagine 80 range with 40 speed. He’d have to get jumps that defy the laws of temporal physics.

    • calicubsfan007

      Maybe we drafted Superman!!

      • Joe

        We already have Mather!

        • calicubsfan007

          Oh my God, thats hillarious!!!!

    • Richard Nose

      I get all hot when I think about temporal physics!!! Sounds like an interesting athlete, obviously gonna be easy to root for.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s like Marlon Byrd with even better range.

  • calicubsfan007

    I love it when players actually attend the draft. It speaks highly of their character.

  • Kyle

    Apparently we are going to a five-minute break and then one minute per pick after this upcoming final pick of the regular first round.

    Should be getting to the Cubs in less than 20 or 30 minutes.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Thank goodness.  These last ten picks have drug out eternally.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Another sign of MLB not “getting it.”

  • Billy

    If someone like Gallo falls to the Cubs should they take him or go with a pitcher no matter what?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      If a good, high ceiling guy falls, the Cubs should absolutely pounce on him.

  • KC

    What names are we looking for in the sandwich round that would be overslot?

  • KC

    Zach Eflin
    Joey Gallo
    Stephen Piscotty
    Matt Smoral
    Lance McCullers

    Who else?

    • chirogerg

      walker weickel

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