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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.

  • DMan

    When do u think Anthony Rizzo is going to come up to the majors

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      When we gain an extra year of service time for cheap.

  • JulioZuleta

    Pierce Johnson: Most painful sounding name drafted.

    • beerhelps

      I see what you did there…

    • Cubs Dude

      hillarious.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Winner.

    • Diesel

      I’ve heard there are people who enjoy that kind of thing

    • chirogerg

      he’ll use his piercing stare to strike fear into the hearts of hitters

      • Cubbie Blues

        He suredly must of had a really hard time (no pun intended) in Jr. High.

  • chirogerg

    Cubs take Paul Blackburn

  • calicubsfan007

    Whos Paul Blackburn????

    • wvcubsfan

      Another pitcher that the front office knows way more about than you? Just a guess.

      • calicubsfan007

        Ouch dude… Cut me some slack!!!

      • calicubsfan007

        I wasnt angry at the Cubs drafting Blackburn btw. I am excited and I am genuinely curious about who he is.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      He is Paul “Bleeping” Blackburn… Thought you knew.

      • calicubsfan007

        Now I know who he is!!

        • Ian Afterbirth

          And now I do too!

    • Joe

      Could be the next Greg Maddux for all we know!

  • Roy Hobbs

    Padres just took weickel.

    Was hoping the cubs could get him.

    “profanity laced tirade!!”

  • Puma0821

    How the hell do the Cardinals get 50 picks in the 1st round? Ridiculous!

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Well for starters they did just lose a guy named Albert Pujols in FA. I think we would want a ton of picks if we lost the same type of player on the North Side.

      • Puma0821

        Did they get multiple picks for that or just one?

        • calicubsfan007

          One, but really high I think

          • Matty Ice

            They got the Angles first rounder and a sandwich pick

            • calicubsfan007

              I suck at the MLB draft. Know a ton about everything else MLB, know NFL draft, but so far neither of these things are helping me get the whole MLB draft thing.

    • calicubsfan007

      Its ok,they make up for that by drafting guys way too high

  • Puma0821

    Also question? How did they determine the order of the sandwich round? How does a team get a pick for losing Clint Barmes?

    • calicubsfan007

      Hey, Clint Barmes is a key player in the MLB. I think he finished behind a couple AAA guys in the MLB MVP voting. He is a player to be respected!! I cant even say that respect part seriously.

      • mjhurdle

        Clint Barmes is ok, but he is no Jeff Baker.

        • calicubsfan007

          Even better! lol. Barmes is definetly not worth a comp, but whatever.

    • Kyle

      Stupid weird statistical formula involving RBIs, fielding percentage, batting average, OBP, playing time and some other stuff.

  • richard nose

    I just read a bunch of reports on some 16 yr old international players on MLB.com. I think that means it’s time to shut this shit down.

  • North Side Irish

    Was hoping for Smoral, A. Wood, or Weickel with one of those sandwich picks, but you got have faith that the front office knows what they’re doing. Wood and Vierant are still on the board.

    Don’t like drafting guys with arm injuries, but maybe that gets the Cubs a bargain.

    And FWIW, Baseball America says Blackburn “is interested in professional baseball, so scouts don’t believe he’ll wind up at Arizona State, where he has committed.”

  • Jzwizard

    What would you guys grade the Cubs first day?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Early gut says: solid B. They pretty much got exactly what they said they were going to get/wanted to get. Almora, a high upside young pitcher, and an upside college pitcher. I’m happy.

      • calicubsfan007

        What position should they go after tomm the hardest? Still pitcher?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I think so, yes.

        • Aaron

          Dolsky. 6’8″ RHP out of DMACC in Iowa. (Probably won’t go until like the 4th+ round, realistically, but I know he’s been scouted by a MYRIAD of teams).

          • Joe

            Is he another Volstad? I don’t know.

          • PKJ

            DMACC? That’s my hood. Embarrassed to say that I forgot they had a baseball team.

            • Joshua Edwards

              Same here–grew up in DSM and still have family and friends there. TOTALLY forgot they had a baseball team :(

              • Aaron

                Easy to forget when they play half the season in the south and home games out of Boone. When I watched him pitch, he was pretty dominant. Could be a good deep-rounder for the Cubs, especially in a weak draft year.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      A- if they can sign all three, B+ if they can only sign the first two.

      I’d rather have taken Smoral at 43 (he’s a 6’8″ lefty!), but I really can’t argue with the pitchers the Cubs did take.  Both throw into the mid 90s, both project as mid first round talent and fell, both have multiple pitchers that grade or have the potential to grade as plus, and both look like future mid-rotation starters.  That’s not bad.  That’s not bad at all.

      And, of course, I like the Almora pick.

      • Jzwizard

        I know it is probably too early, but what would be the ETA for these guys to reach the majors?

        • Kyle

          Crazy wild guess?

          Almora: late 2016
          Johnson: 2015
          Blackburn: 2017

          • calicubsfan007

            Wait, Johnson going sooner than Almora? Eh, you may be right.

            • Kyle

              College pitcher before high school hitter.

              • calicubsfan007

                Got a point there… Just seems weird that a lower pick guy would be more ready than the top ten guy. I guess thats the NFL part of my brain.

        • Joe

          2017

        • calicubsfan007

          Some people are saying 2016-2017 range

          • Joe

            Everyone has to keep a calm head! That doesn’t mean the Cubs won’t be competitive till 2017!

    • Kyle

      I’ll ask Theo. I feel like he has way more right to set the grade than I do.

  • Roy Hobbs

    Cardinals got wacha.

    Man I hate the bleeping cardinals.

  • CBP

    Do you think Appell would be the choice if Hendry was still in charge

    • calicubsfan007

      Probably and would have overpaid for him.

    • Joe

      There was no telling which way Hendry would go. I think he drew toothpicks when it came to the draft!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      No.  Unless Boras cut a deal, the Pirates are going to have to throw nearly the rest of their draft to free up the cash to sign Appel, or else they are going to forfeit picks next year and the year after.  It’s one or the other.

      And if Boras was willing to cut a deal, Appel would not have fallen to eight.

      I have no idea what the Pirates are going to do.  That will be one of the major stories that unfolds tomorrow.  They may have won the draft.  And they may have blown the draft.  We’ll see.

      • Spencer

        The way everyone is making it sound is that Appel was going to be impossible to sign no matter who drafted him.

        • Ogyu

          What am I missing here? I understand that high school guys have some leverage because, if they don’t sign, they can take a college scholarship offer instead. But if you’ve already been to college, what are you going to do if you don’t sign? Sit around and twiddle your thumbs? Play in Japan? Where’s the leverage for a guy like Appel?

          • Matty Ice

            He’s only a Junior in college so he can return to school for his senior year

            • Homer J. Simpson

              Thanks.

  • Roy Hobbs

    I’d give the cubs a b also.

    Was kinda hoping for an A+ tho.

  • Roy Hobbs

    Appel and Smoral and I would have given the cubs an A.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I would have given them a: “How the hell do you plan on signing them?”

  • Njriv

    Just saw the video of the interview MLB network did with Almora, great kid, love his work ethic, I am a huge fan of his already.

    • Eric

      Yeah seriously teared up. He burried his gold medal with his grandfather. I love that love of family and selfless attitude.

      • Njriv

        Does anyone know what his nationality is?

        • chirogerg

          He’s an American

          • Cubbie Blues

            Played for USA. Someone on here said he had a relative that played in the Show.

          • Njriv

            Stupid question on my part, I meant ethnicity.

            • Joe

              Does it matter?

              • Njriv

                No just curious, being Puerto Rican myself, I tend to pull harder for players that come from there. Although, I am totally sold on on Almora, him being Puerto Rican would be icing on the cake.

                • Joe

                  I don’t think he is Puerto. But as a Cubs fan please support.

                • Hansman1982

                  People look at me weird when I say I prefer to root for other Germans over other ethnicities.

  • calicubsfan007

    The draft looks pretty solid. As Charlie Sheen would say: “Winning!” or insert another ridiculous sheen quote to fit this. The Cubs are winners this draft so far.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Appel fell because MLB doesn’t have the desire to deal with his personality. Don’t think we missed out on him. Too many smart people passed on him and took other talent. Also goes to show that these so called media/baseball draft analysts don’t know sh*t. This draft started just like the NFL draft. The analysts dont have any idea whatis going down but they talk Luke they do. Its a joke I don’t even listen anymore.

  • http://BleacherNation Ramy16

    Ok guys I think our Cubs did great! Now tomorrow draft a 3rd baseman by the name of Matt Reynolds of the University of Arkansas! Great 3rd baseman! Probably the sleeper of the draft!

    • Joe

      We’ll get that comment right over to Theo!(LOL)

      • Cubbie Blues

        Ease up badnews. A lot of people have players they are rooting for. No sense in trolling.

        • Joe

          Excuse me?

          • Cubbie Blues

            Post self deleted

        • calicubsfan007

          Is this a comment to the right post? Because, unless Joe is also badnews, I think you posted under the wrong one.

          • Cubbie Blues

            He claimed to be a couple of days ago. That’s all I’ll say on this thread don’t want to delute a great post with it.

            • Hansman1982

              There are a couple joes running around

  • TongueInCheek

    Starlin Castro needs our attention. The brain trust are doing all right with the draft so let them at it. Castro has an attention deficit problem that needs medication to control as did lefty Eyers (sp?) our former reliever. Medication can make all the difference!

    • Joe

      Absolutely! And I mean this with all sincerety. I think Castro might have ADD(Attention Deficit Disorder) There is treatment for sure. Cubs really, probably, never even thought about it.

      • Drew7

        ADD treatment (usually Adderall) would be an illegal substance (amphetamine).

        • Chase S.

          I take ADD meds that don’t have amphetamines in them so that shouldn’t be a problem. I have always wondered if taking them would have made me any better at baseball in high school (i.e. paying more attention to situational hitting, etc). I didn’t start taking them until after so I wonder if that could be a possibility for Castro’s mistakes. More than likely, though, it’s because he’s still only 22.

          • Joe

            Really? At the age of 22 I was in the USAF. If I made blunders like Castro has(playing baseball mind you) I probably could have been court marshalled! Point is, some mistakes are not gonna be forgiven, I don’t care who you are! I think Castro has arrived to that point. I hope I’m wrong.

            • Chase S.

              Ya I hadn’t seen his recent miscue with the double play before I wrote that last post. It’d be one thing if it was laziness, but this looks more like mental lapses which (hopefully) can be overcome a lot easier than the former.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I don’t care about Appel we didn’t draft him. He is of no significance to the cubs draft. Get behind the guys we have drafted thus far and those to come. The real front office skill in this draft comes over the next 2 days. Did our scouts find the better players in places people forget to look or never look. A lot of teams like the whitesox just don’t show up at the
    showcases. The royals, blue jays and rays are everywhere. They have good farm systems that show it.

  • KC

    You know what sounds great??? I feel we did a pretty good job drafting. I think we will be find tomorrow if we can add a couple more arms. But then hopefully we hear at the end of this week that we sign Jorge Soler to our farm system.

    Albert Almora and Jorge Soler would be a HUGE addition to our farm system. Wow just think about it.

    • calicubsfan007

      Jackson, Almora, Soler sounds way better than Soriano, DeJesus, Johnson/ Campana. The MLB better watch out by the time these young players are all together on the MLB team. Wow, I can’t wait!!!! This isn’t sarcasm btw, all genuine from me right now.

      • Drew7

        Thr reality of it is, chances are we see 1 of those guys put up the numbers someone like Dejesus (120 OPS+ right now) is putting up. Just the nature of the beast.

    • Joe

      Yes, 2017! Can’t wait.

      • Eric

        Me either! Ofcourse 2013-2015 won’t be too shabby either, with the team constantly getting better and better with promising young players like Rizzo and Castro and Jackson, and whoever they get for Demp and Garza. Should be a really fun team to watch grow into a powerhouse.

        • Joe

          Yes! Things can change must faster, as Theo has said. It’s only uphill after this season, and I truly believe it for once!

          • Cubbie Blues

            It is a tuff road to hoe but at least we have the right captain at the helm.

            • Joe

              Oh, I truly believe the big hurricane is coming his year, we will get through it, and nothing but sun afterwards! I have not felt this good about the Cubbies in a long time! (I don’t think ever, to tell you the truth, without giving away my age)

              • Cubbie Blues

                His year or this year? Throwing me off a bit with that and “uphill after this year”.

                • Joe

                  Ha! Yes I was trying to read and write at the same time.(LOL)
                  You don’t want to go downhill, do you? I meant uphill in the Central standings.(Sorry)

  • cubsin

    Brett and Luke: What’s the early line on the pitchers available in 2012 class of international free agents? I realize that these are 16-year-old kids, but I hope the Cubs can find some big guys with blazing fastballs and a modicum of control over where they go.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Let me get through the draft first.  We’ve got a few weeks on the IFA class.

  • KC

    If we trade Garza or Dempster I think we need a young top of the line Catcher. I have kind of looked at what our lineup could be around 2014 and later. We need help at catcher along with pitchers. Travis d’Arnaud or Gary Sanchez would be a nice fit I think.

    • Eric

      I agree catcher would be nice, maybe they can find a gem in the later rounds that’s a little further away. That’s where the magic happens for very smart FO’s like ours. After the first few rounds or so you really have to dig deep but the great evaluators can find some gems. We trade Garza for a couple of top prospects, maybe one’s a pitcher? Who knows. But after Shark we are gonna need to look for some future TOR arms. I think the offense in our minors is starting to look pretty good.

      • Joe

        I don’t think the Cubs trade Garza. Why? I truly believe Theo thinks we can compete, and I mean compete , within 2 years. (But who the hell am I)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I don’t think Toronto is going to move d’Arnaud.  Arencibia, though, they might.

  • Joe

    How in the hell did the WS-winning Cardinals get so goddamn many picks in the draft?? Five picks, two in the first round? I figure one of the compensatory picks came for Pujols… what were the other two for? How’d they get two in the first round?

    • Joe

      Calm down Joe!(LOL) I’m sure someone will come up with a VALID explanation. (Ya, right! Chances of that slim to none) See anything crooked?

    • Matty Ice

      They got the Angels 1st rounder for Pujols as well as one of the supplemental picks. Just like the Brewers got the Tigers 1st rounder and a supp pick for Fielder. It’s how baseball use to work, the new CBA is changing things though(far fewer supplemental picks next year)

      • Joe

        I forgot about that! Wow! The Angels really did bet the House, didn’t they?

  • Jeremy

    If you guys google Pierce Johnson, make sure you add baseball at the end… and do a spell check.

  • TakingWrigleyToSãoPaulo

    I have heard a rumor that Almora´s agent is good old Scott Boras. Are there any issues in him asking for an overslot value (for Almora) and putting in serious doubt our abilty to sign our other picks? On the flip side, if Amora will sign for under slot (i.e. deal aleady in place) then maybe the cubs and lure Blackburn away from college.

    Like the Pierce pick despite the unfortunate name; he should not be a difficult sign.

    • Cubs Dude

      I think Boras is his agent. I would hope the Cubs already had the outline of a deal in place. I hate Boras, but you would think he can’t be completely ridiculous with these new rules or no one will draft his players at all. I am sure that had something to do with Appel falling. Teams can’t be messing with his b.s. with all these restricitions..

  • CubsWhen?

    MLB Network, Quick Pitch has a nice little story about Albert Almora.

  • DaveS

    Almora, 18, won’t offer immediate help — no one drafted on Monday will. But Baseball America ranks him as the high school player who is closest to the big leagues

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/05/2833145/mater-academys-albert-almora-goes.html#storylink=cpy

  • rbreeze

    I like what the Cubs did last night with the first round.  we’ll be comparing Almora to Fried and Appel for several years.  But it sounds like he is a good kid from a good family and he wants to be the best.  Lets watch him a grow.  I think Theo and company wanted a position player first and then load up later on live arms they can develop.

    • Jeff

      I just watched the video of Almora on MLB, had to say It was pretty impressive. I like this kid alot! I think he has that drive and determination to make it big. Looks like he comes from a great family who has instilled a great work ethic.

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