gray appelThe 2013 MLB Draft is just a touch over a month away …

  • Cubs Scouting and Player Development Chief Jason McLeod was on the radio with Jim Bowden this weekend, and apparently said that – as expected – collegiate righties Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray are the top pitchers in the Draft, and San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant and UNC third baseman Colin Moran are the top bats in the Draft. We’ve discussed the pitchers at length, and Bryant has come up before. But this is the first mention of Moran, specifically, connected to the Cubs. It’s worth noting that just because McLeod said that Bryant and Moran are the top bats in the Draft doesn’t mean they are necessarily the top positional prospects in the Draft, according to the Cubs. For example, they might have the best bats now, but there might be a high schooler – for example, outfielders Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows – whom the Cubs like better long-term. There are also positional considerations. A masher who can barely play first base isn’t as valuable or desirable as a quality hitting, but not dominant, center fielder with enormous defensive skills.
  • Bryant, whom few believe can stick at third base, and Moran each have ridiculous stats this year. Moran’s .386/.504/.631 line is almost as good as Bryant’s .346/.517/.865. Bryant’s 22 homers lead college baseball by a wide margin, but Moran’s 11 homers are more than his total strikeouts (9) this year.
  • As for those top two arms in the Draft, each started this weekend. Appel went 8.1 innings against Oregon, allowing one earned run on 9 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 9 and threw 116 pitches. Gray went 7.1 innings against Texas Tech, allowing one earned run on two hits and two walks. He struck out 7 and threw 111 pitches. Good starts by each guy, which is the norm at this point.
  • There was a time not so long ago that folks thought it a near lock that the Cubs’ pick at the top of the Draft would be Indiana State lefty Sean Manaea. That he has fallen on draft boards after failing to sustain the hype he built in the Cape Cod League last year is a reminder of why I don’t get into the draft projection game before late April or May. These changes happen every single year. (Hell, if you’d tried to project back in January, Manaea would be up at the top and Gray wouldn’t even be on your board.) A recent article out of Indianapolis suggested that Manaea remained at the top of the Cubs’ board, including an anonymous scout virtually guaranteeing that Manaea would be the pick. I didn’t really believe it when I first saw the article, and I believe it even less today. Although you’d love to get a power lefty with huge upside, Manaea comes with a few more questions than do guys like Appel and Gray. Manaea has reportedly been dealing with a minor hip issue to go along with his up and down performance this year. (But don’t get me wrong: a 1.57 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 57.1 innings is still good. The 20 walks are concerning, though.) He could wind up a stud, but it’s a big risk. And, when you’re picking No. 2, you simply can’t afford to take a guy with a ton of questions.
  • Theo Epstein to Patrick Mooney on the Draft: “But the draft class is rounding into shape where there are a couple elite starting pitchers up on top of the Draft and some interesting high school position players. I’d say there’s about half-a-dozen guys who have the potential to go first overall even, so we’ll see what happens.” That makes you feel like the Cubs are choosing from among Appel, Gray, Frazier and Meadows, but who really knows. Right now, it seems hard to see the Cubs passing on whichever of Appel or Gray is available to them with the second overall pick.
  • Cubbie Blues

    I asked over on the MB, but I’ll post here as well

    Anyone know how much mileage is on Apple’s arm?
    From the little I dug I found this. It wasn’t very hard to find games which he had high pitch counts.

    2013 70.1
    2012 123.0
    2011 110.1
    2010 38.0

    -Over the last 3 years he has 10 complete games.
    -Last year they let him pitch 149 against Oregon.

    • ncsujuri

      Blu, how bad does it suck that we got rained out yesterday?!?!

    • Cub Style

      He throws a lot of pitches.

    • Grant

      Appel may throw a decent number of innings per year, but he’s only recently (i.e. in the past few years) been converted to a pitcher.

      Like you, I thought he had a bunch of mileage on his arm, but someone corrected me about this a couple weeks back.

  • BluBlud

    Considering that we are picking 2nd, my first round board looks like this.

    1) Gray
    2) Bryant

    I seen Moran play this weekend and he hit a 3 run Bomb in the first inning against my Wolfpack. Great player, but not top of the first round player IMO.

    • ncsujuri

      Blu, the above reply to Cubbie was meant for you…clicked on the wrong ‘reply’

      • BluBlud

        Yeah, I know. Unfortunately that same rain has exposed a leak in my roof.

    • ETS

      I still think stros prefer gray to appel

      • BluBlud

        I hope not. I pray the take Appel, because I fear if they both are somehow available, the Cubs will select Appel, and with our luck, we’ll regret it forever. then again, with our luck, we’ll take Gray, and Appel will be the better player.

  • dw8

    FWIW, I watched Appel on Friday. I was sniping readings from scouts. The fast ball velocity definitely dropped further along in the game. He was sitting 95-96 for the first four or five innings. Touched 97. Developed a feel for the breaking ball later in the game. Generally 84-85.
    Only threw a few changeups as chase pitches to lefties with two strikes.

    There was one AB that was really amazing. Oregon had a guy on first and the batter was trying to bunt the runner over. Appel threw the batter three straight sliders. Appel missed the bat three straight times. “Swinging strikes” on all three.

    Tons of grounders. Only like two hard hit balls (I’d have to go back and check notes I made).

    I sat about five feet from Dan O’Dowd (Rockies GM) and Jason McLoed was about four rows ahead of me. Some Rockies scouts were in the house. Pretty cool atmosphere in Eugene.

  • Dynastyin2016

    it’s gotta be Gray or Appel, doesn’t it? Everything I’ve read says there is a huge drop off after those two. We just can’t blow this pick. I’d rate Bryant as number 3, because I still think the organization lacks power. Fwiw, both HS outfielders are NOT as highly thought of as Almora was last year.

    • willis

      Yes, it has to be. Need the experienced, somewhat mature arm in the organization. Either one will be a solid pick and the best arm prospect in the organization. I’ve seen some things I’ve liked from some minor league arms, but there isn’t one dominant, 1/2 type in the farm system. Those are incredibly hard to come by, and there are two right here to nab.

      • Dynastyin2016

        yep, plus they will be ready relatively soon.

  • BD

    If both of those pitchers are at the top- now I want to know which they prefer if Houston doesn’t pick one of them.

  • The Brian Roberts Trade

    I really hope it is Appel, he should be a fast track MLB guy.

    • Cyranojoe

      To be blunt, what’s the rush? Does 2014 look like such a critical year? I’d prefer we get the one with the most potential.

      • Dynastyin2016

        True, being ready for 2014 shouldn’t be the overriding factor, but if they are equal, wouldn’t you want the guy who is closer to the majors? That would give that player a non-pressure year to adjust to the big leagues.

        What would have happened with Prior’s career if his rookie year wasn’t played on a playoff contender?

  • Bilbo161

    If Houston follows the strategy they used last year they will reach and pick a top ten type that they really like and try to save some bucks for later picks. Their timeline may have them thinking High School arm or bat. Hell, for all I know the Cubs could be thinking the same way

    • Cub Style

      Correa was the consensus 1 at draft time…

      • bbmoney

        I don’t think that’s accurate.

      • Kyle

        No, he wasn’t.

        He was a late helium guy with *some* reports deciding at the last minute that he might be No. 1 (and I still think those were mostly people talking to the Astros, and the Astros hyping up their bad decision).

        He was clearly behind Appel, and probably behind Buxton too.

      • NyN

        Yeah no. Most projections on draft day had him going to the Cubs at 6. Only when they got within 30minutes to an hour of the pick did they start changing it.

  • itzscott

    Too many innings/pitches for both of these pitchers. Just have a feeling with the Cubs luck we’re looking at Mark Prior II

    • Bilbo161

      If that is the way you feel maybe the Cubs should go for Kohl Stewart and get to control his innings as he develops further. He does project like a number 1 doesn’t he? I’d be ok with that if its what the FO wants.

      • hansman1982

        HS arms are far too risky to take.

    • SoonerACub

      Appel has logged quite a few more innings, but Gray really hasn’t at the collegiate level. Last year he totaled out at 101 IP and is at the 74.1 IP mark right now. He’s a junior and spent his freshman year at JC without logging all that too many innings. Not a whole lot of wear and tear on his arm, in my opinion.

      For what its worth, Gray struck out 5 of his first batters faced and took a no-hitter (should have been a perfecto if not for an error) into the sixth inning.

      • skiz123

        If we’re playing this game, Appel didn’t start i high school and pitched out of the bullpen his freshman year at Stanford, while Gray has been a starter his entire life. I’d bet Gray has thrown more pitches throughout his career than Appel.

        That said, I prefer Gray by a tiny hair at the moment simply due to the velo.

        • SoonerACub

          All of this is pretty much a moot point anyways. If they were pitchers coming out of high school, they would be logging those innings they threw in college in the minors with whatever team would take them instead. Because they are college pitchers, the track for them to make the majors is expedited and innings pitched at the college level doesn’t really mean anything.

    • SoonerACub

      Plus Prior logged nearly 150 IP both years at USC, if memory serves.

      • hansman1982

        And then started racking up 120+ pitches per appearance as a rookie.

        Had he been given the Strasburg treatment, it’d have been a much different career.

        • bbmoney

          I think I’ll always hate Dusty Baker. Obviously there are a lot of contributing factors. But it was just so obvious that he was just abusing Prior and a very young Carlos Zambrano late that summer.

        • Featherstone

          While I agree that Dusty abused the arms of our young pitchers we can never say for certain that things would have turned out differently, Injuries happen in the most unpredictable manner and no one can predict a line-drive off the elbow.

          • MichaelD

            And one of Prior’s first injuries came running the bases.

  • DaveY

    I remember back as early as the end of the 2000 college baseball season Mark Teixeira was the favorite for the 2001 draft. At the start of the 2001 college season he was the consensus number one player but early in the season he broke an ankle. Doctors said he should be fine though he was out for the rest of his amature career but was still the consensus best player for the draft. Over the course of the college season, Mark Prior emerged and it became a two player draft. Either was deemed worthy of the number one pick but Minnesota, who had the number one pick thought home town boy Joe Mauer was the best player. Mauer was generally viewed as just a notch below Prior and Teixeira but Minnesota was given a pass because he was their home town kid and he was likely to sign for less. Mauer went first, the Cubs took Prior second and Teixeira fell to the Rangers with the fifth pick. With 20/20 hindsight, the Cubs should have taken Teixeira. He won AL rookie of the year in 2003, would have been perfect for the 2003 Cubs over the Karros/Hee Sop Choi first base platoon.

    • Can’t think of a cool name

      Prior was an absolute stud in 2003. Without Prior pitching I don’t think the Cubs do as well as they did in 2003.

    • Northside Neuman

      Teixeira came back and played the final few games of his senior season after the injury at Georgia Tech. The injury did not end his amatuer career. He was projected to be the Cubs pick but Prior snuck into the picture about two weeks before the draft.

  • ruby2626

    Didn’t I read where Meadows only has 4 home runs on the season, I think that should end speculation about him going #2. If you go position you would like as close to a 5* player as possible.

    The pitch counts are a little concerning but don’t these guys usually only pitch like once a week. To me the draft is a no brainer, take whichever college pitcher Houston doesn’t take. Guess I would lean toward Appel since he doesn’t have that much leverage as a senior and also the tougher competition he plays against. You know with Boras though he’s gonna be a hard one to sign.

  • Jay

    Just as long as they don’t outsmart themselves and take a position player with their top pick. We’ve got those in the pipeline, but precious little in the way of arms on the way.

  • Kramden

    If the Cubs strongly feel they have a future 3rd baseman in their system and either of those two pitchers are considered the best players available, then the Cubs would have to go with one of the pitchers.

  • Kyle

    What the Cubs already have should have absolutely, positively nothing to do with it. At this level in the draft, pure BPA reigns.

    Fortunately, the clear top 2 are at the position we have the most need, so we don’t have to worry about it.

    • BluBlud

      Exactly. I think it should be that way for any sport. Take the best player. I mean, could you imagine a basketball team passing on lebron James because the already had Loul Dang, but not SG.

      • BluBlud


      • Dynastyin2016

        Yeah, just ask Portland how Sam Bowie worked out. They had Drexler, so why would you want to pick that Jordan guy?

        BPA. Always.

        • Cub Style

          There was a legitimate case to Sam Bowie…

      • ssckelley

        Nothing surprises me after watching how the Bears drafted.

  • ssckelley

    I would be very disappointed if the Cubs did not get either Appel or Gray. They fit a huge need and are the best players available anyway.

  • Chief

    As a USD student, I can safely say that Bryant is a stand up guy. His defense is very passable at third, but he’ll probably outgrow the position.

    The dude has stupid power though, and the coaches are doing him a huge favor batting him leadoff/2 hole most nights so that he gets as many at bats as possible to showcase his skills.

    \end Torero Bragging

  • chrisfchi

    if Manaea is around in the second round, i say we grab him anyway. i always felt lefties were hard to come by in the draft

    • skiz123

      I doubt he falls past 7.

  • Jeremy

    Appel or Gray for me. Doesnt really matter. I love both of them as prospects. Gray gets the edge in velocity but appels fastball is a plus pitch as well. Appel has better command and is far more athletic than Gray but there body types arent too big of a deal to me as I dont see it being a concern with either.

    Basically one or the other, ill be happy either way.

    • Cam

      What makes you think Appel has more command and is far more athletic? I’ve seen both pitch and can tell you that’s not the case. And since when did being athletic matter for a pitcher?

      • ari gold

        Being more “athletic” for pitchers means you’re more likely to repeat your delivery.

  • Peter O.

    RE: Manaea. It’s only a big risk if he has a lot of questions you don’t have answers to. There’s probably a whole slew of factors that us amateur talent evaluators don’t have answers to that guys like McLeod do. He could absolutely be the pick at #2, be just as good as Appel or Gray, and possibly be had at a discount over them as well. Nobody projected Hultzen at #2 last year either.

  • Die hard

    Bryant would fit in better with homer friendly Wrigley once wind is cut down with new scoreboards- like to see him picked so Cubs could avg 5-6 runs/game

  • Saving grace

    Luke,Brett or anyone who might know about this

    A friend of mine who’s a huge college baseball fan said there is a Jeff Samardzija clone out there.He said he’s been compared to Jeff S.
    I think he was a BYU football player and also a pitcher
    Not sure if the school is right but have you heard of him
    If so whats his name and scouting report
    Have you heard if the Cubs are interested?

  • Internet Random

    “A friend of mine who’s a huge college baseball fan said there is a Jeff Samardzija clone out there.”


  • cja

    In march i went to see manaea pitch against missouri state, in springfield mo. He ran out of gas in the 7 th. inning, and he walked 5 in 6.2 innings. Did not impress me. indiana state lost the game.