stanford mark appelAlthough it is still too early to prognosticate – beyond the caveat-filled, educated guess stuff – about the Chicago Cubs’ 2013 Draft and their number two overall pick. While amateur seasons are finally underway, a great deal can still change between now and the June Draft. Indeed, if you follow draft prospect info on Twitter, we’re seeing the see-saw already – one day, it’s quite obvious that college lefty Sean Manaea is the best pitcher available in the draft. Then, someone like Jonathan Gray from Oklahoma comes out of nowhere (at least in terms of the top of the Draft) and is flashing ridiculous stuff, and enters the national conversation. And then an already-hyped high school positional prospect like Clint Frazier goes off at a heavily-scouted game, and he’s the obvious guy at the top.

This dance will continue for the next couple months. It’s fun to follow, so long as you keep in mind that things can and will change on a regular basis.

When it comes to the Cubs’ pick, all we know is this: if there’s an obvious, sure-thing, dominant college starting pitcher available, the Cubs will take him. Otherwise, they’ll take the best available positional player. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has said as much, with openness and vigor, and has strongly suggested a general preference for positional players in the first round of a draft.

Right now, there are some quality college arms who will go near the top of the Draft, but we don’t yet know if any of them will become the guy who is so obviously going to be successful that the Cubs can’t pass him up.

But is Stanford’s Mark Appel going to become that guy?

You know Appel’s story: as a dominant junior last year, he was believed by most to be the best college arm in the Draft, but he slipped to 8th due to signability concerns (that slipping includes the Cubs passing up on him at 6, though they were pretty in love with Albert Almora). Those signability concerns were justified, as Appel ultimately refused to sign with the Pirates for a shade under $4 million. Now in his senior season, Appel will have less leverage in the 2013 Draft, and may have to destroy college hitters all year to keep himself in the conversation at the top (a great pitcher like Appel is expected to put up very good numbers as a senior, for obvious reasons – he needs better than very good numbers).

So far, the numbers have been there. Through 30 innings, Appel has a 1.20 ERA, has struck out 43, and has walked just six. Heck, he’s given up just 17 hits.

If the Astros don’t take Appel, will the Cubs decide he’s their guy? No one can yet say for sure, but Phil Rogers suggests it could happen.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden goes a step further, saying, “one Cubs evaluator told me if Stanford right-hander Mark Appel is sitting there at No. 2 in this year’s draft, he won’t get by them.” Say what you will about Bowden or Rogers, but that’s a pretty authoritative take right there, coming straight from a Cubs source.

So, I guess at the end of this, we can conclude only that (1) it’s early, (2) Appel’s been pretty great so far, and (3) the Cubs might be interested in Appel in the two-spot (and one source says they’re taking him if he’s there).

Not earth-shattering, but useful info as we descend into the madness of draft season.

  • http://Noclue Marc N.

    As far as Appel, if you’ve followed him to any degree the past 2 draft seasons you can see the work turning into results. Physically he took another step forward this year wih a filled out but still highly athletic 6’5″/6’6″ frame. The change up has gone from an early career project to a legit third swig and miss option. Both he and his fastball are probably the most scouted and picked apart things in this draft and he’s still passing, if not improving. This is the kind of shyte I want to see from a Cub.

    Watch the Astros take him at 1…fuckers.

  • james

    If Mark Appel is there, I doubt the Cubs will sign him. Theo and Jed already said that postion players in the first round are much easier to gage. My guess is Austin Meadows or Clint Frazier would be taken with that pick. When Jim Bowden mentions something you have to take it with a grain of salt. Jim Bowden seems to be off with everything dealing with rumors or trade talks. I wouldn’t mind Mark Appel on the Cubs. I just don’t see it happening.

  • Rynomite

    Aren’t international players above a certain age exempt from the international signing bonus pool? What about domestic players?

    Why in the world would Appel go back in the draft for more money? It’s not going to happen with the cap. I wonder if there is something Boras-related brewing here. Finish out your senior year, refuse to sign, move to a foreign country and establish citizenship, and wait to turn 23. Then, sign for 25 million.

    Could this scenario be possible? If so, he may be way too risky to draft.

    • DB Kyle

      That rule does not apply to domestic players. If he doesn’t sign, he has to re-enter the draft. I’m not saying it’s 100% impossible that Boras would find a loophole, but it’s pretty unlikely. They’ve tried to make it pretty ironclad.

  • Dumpgobbler

    I’m hoping we go Frazier and Jeremy Martinez, then a slew of pitching. I wont mind if we take Manea / Appel.. Just pitching can be so volatile. These guys are in the know though, so whoever they pick, I can get behind.

  • scoobypop5

    I’m not convinced Appel was as uptight about the signing bonus “number” as people think. Knowing him a little bit now (my son more), he is really about being well rounded, devout christian and cares about his education. Heading back for his senior year, he talks about his goal of making it to Omaha with the Cardinal and keeping the Stanford Baseball graduate rate at 100%. The kid is a complete class act. For most of us, turning down big money makes little sense, but in his case, he lets his faith and passion dictate over the check book! I have watched him pitch this year each Friday. The stuff is scary and last Friday he K’d, 15……a personal best. Like most Stanford pitchers, they come out mature and ready to compete right away (See Drew Storen).

    • Dumpgobbler

      Another thing I’d add: Who wants to join the pirates minor league organization? Navy seal training and such runs huge injury risks. I would’ve done the same thing if I were in his shoes. He was still likely to be the best arm this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes to the Astros.

    • http://Noclue Marc N.

      The interesting thing is that he will have a degree from Stanford and is roughly the same age as Ryne Stanek.

  • #1lahairfan

    Hey Luke do you think Karsten Whitson will be available in the second round?

  • ssckelley

    The thought of the Cubs getting Appel is exciting, he may not spend much time in the minors. Had he signed with the Pirates last year I bet he would already be a top 25 prospect.

  • DL Huyck

    I think this Clint Frazier kid could be the real deal.

  • August

    Can the Cubs trade their number two pick with the purpose of acquiring a lower first rounder and more 2nd and third rounders? If pitching is the need, and we won’t address Tia until round two, a trade out of the two-spot might be our best move.

    • Jeff

      You cannot trade picks

    • DB KYLE

      Besides the fact that you can’t trade most picks (there’s a small exception that doesn’t apply to the Cubs), it would be a bad idea if you could. Trading down would almost never be a good idea in the MLB draft.

      • Hansman1982

        You blathering twit. Trading down rounds would ALWAYS be a bad idea.

        • Jeff

          Without looking, name the player drafted before Greg Maddux and what number he was picked…lol

          • Pat

            You know, Doyle Brunson twice won the World Series of Poker by going all in on 10 2 offsuit. That must make it a good hand.

    • ssckelley

      Trading down may work in other sports, like football, but more is not better when it comes to the baseball draft. In baseball you want to draft as high as possible.

  • Cub2014

    I don’t think you can trade picks

  • Die hard

    Id bet on another Ryno —-Stanek

    • Cam

      Stanek’s had a pedestrian start and almost certainly trails Appel and Manaea in the rankings at the moment. Coupled with the way Kris Bryant is swinging in San Diego, Stanek might be lucky to go top five.