Cubs Draft Notes: The Cubs Have a Final Four, But Probably Haven’t Made a Decision Yet

stanford mark appelThe 2013 Draft is just nine days away. I am getting excited.

  • According to multiple reports, the Chicago Cubs are down to four possible players for their top pick (No. 2 overall): collegiate pitchers Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray, and collegiate third basemen Kris Bryant and Colin Moran. That last one is a less-discussed name around these parts, though he’s been mentioned before. The UNC third baseman is thought by many to be the best pure hitter in the draft, but seems like a longshot for the Cubs. He’s in the conversation, though, and the Cubs may not have yet made a full and final decision on their top two players.
  • BA’s Jim Callis says he doesn’t know which of the two pitchers – Gray or Appel – the Cubs would take if both were still on the board for them at No. 2, but he leans toward Gray based on upside. The two are very, very close, though, and Callis says he keeps going back and forth. Obviously having both Gray and Appel on the board for the Cubs would be an ideal scenario, allowing the team to play one off of the other for the best value (assuming the Cubs don’t have a strong preference for one or the other). To pull that off, though, it would be best if the Cubs could somehow learn in advance that the Astros were definitely going to take Bryant or Moran … something they’re not likely to find out for sure.
  • Callis says he hears the Cubs haven’t made a decision between the two pitchers yet, let alone a decision on their top overall players. I’d imagine that decision will come very soon, and the Cubs can start getting their ducks in a row. Obviously pre-Draft negotiations are not allowed, but … well … there are ways of finding out how signable a guy is going to be. These guys know that they’ll generally make more money if they’re drafted at No. 2 versus No. 3, even if they don’t get the full slot amount at 2.
  • ESPN’s Christopher Crawford doesn’t think the Cubs will have that choice, though, and suspects Gray is on track to be the top pick for the Astros. If that happens, the safe money says the Cubs will take Appel, but the two third baseman remain lurking at the periphery.
  • Dale Sveum has been watching video on all four players, when he has a chance, and likes what he sees from all four. Sveum likely doesn’t have a great deal of input on the final selection, but I’m sure the front office is interesting in hearing his impression on each player as he watches the tape.
  • Appel’s Stanford team didn’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament, so his season is over. Each of Gray, Bryant, and Moran will be playing in the tournament, which begins on Friday.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

103 responses to “Cubs Draft Notes: The Cubs Have a Final Four, But Probably Haven’t Made a Decision Yet”

  1. Idaho Razorback

    I like Gray but if the Astros take him, I want Bryant.

    1. Patrick G

      Same. I’m not sure what it is about Appel I don’t like, maybe his mechanics, but just doesn’t look as promising as the other two but what do I know. Bryant has become one of my favorites as he is projected to have 80 power which is rare and could be a fast rise through The minors

  2. SirCub

    I heart Colin Moran. Dude can really, really, hit.

    1. cubchymyst

      I’d like to see the cubs grab a hitter, simply because impact hitting is harder to find later in the draft then pitching.

    2. Alex

      Honestly I think well end up seeing the Astros tab Moran, just like they did with correa last year. The cubs and Astros simply need to much talent to allocate their pools entirely to Appel. With Gray, as good as he may end up being, he is a huge risk after not even being mentioned prior to this season. I think well see Moran and Bryant go 1,2.

      1. Jp3

        I can’t see Moran going 1st and I’m a huge Tarheel fan. I could see them getting crazy and going for Bryant hoping he’s another bag well type but Mora I’d just not elite in my opinion.

  3. JB88

    Pitchers make me nervous, but pitchers with a limited track record make me even more nervouse. Not that it matters, at all, but if I were slotting, my preference would be: (1) Bryant; (2) Appel; (3) Gray; (4) Moran.

    That said, if Bryant and Appel were both on the board at No. 2, I’d have no problem with either and wouldn’t be at all upset if they chose to select Appel. I’m not a huge Gray or Moran fan, though. Gray because he only has two pitches, a fairly limited history of success, and, until this year, a questionable physique; Moran because, if we are selecting a hitter that high, I want him to have “no doubt” power, and Moran doesn’t appear to have that.

    1. JB88

      Stupid fat fingers. Nervouse = nervous.

    2. cas-castro

      to me, Moran = Vitters. I believe Josh vitters had the same report on him when he was drafted. “best pure hitter” I could be wrong but that is what I have heard.

      1. Cubbie in NC

        I am with you on Moran. I have seen him play a few times and the last 4 days in person at the ACC tournament. Not a top 5 pick to me. He reminds me of Dustin Ackley who was also supposedly a phenominal hitter from UNC as well.

        1. Jp3

          I said the same thing yesterday, I’m from Durham and said the exact same comp to Ackley. He was considered a polished hitter, can’t miss prospect pretty much. As a Tarheel fan myself I just don’t see Moran better than Ackley was and therefore probably not worthy of a top 2 pick.

  4. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Appel, and its easy for me. Too much risk for Grey.

  5. Noah

    I go Appel, Bryant, Gray, Moran. Appel falling down some lists is just prospect fatigue. Gray goes behind Bryant not because I love Bryant (the only person I’ve seen say Bryant has raw 80 power is Callis, although he should at least be a 70 which is no small shakes), but because guys who suddenly add 3-4 mph to their fastball just before they hit draft eligibility make me nervous that their arm is about to fall off.

    I think the upside in Appel’s secondary pitches and command is much greater than the upside of the few extra MPH that Gray has had this year.

    1. Spriggs

      My question about Appel is where was all the success prior to this year? Could this year’s success be somewhat age related? If not, what changed? Did he fix something or is he just dominating younger players for the most part. What’s your take on that? Sorry for all the questions.

      1. JB88

        Appel has actually been pretty consistent across his career. And he’s not exactly an old man on the mound, either. Appel will be 21 at the time of the draft, same age as Gray. Here are Appel’s stats from the past three years.

        Season era w-l app-gs cg sho sv ip h r er bb so 2b 3b hr ab b/avg wp hbp bk sfa sha
        2011 3.02 6 – 7 17 – 17 2 0 0 110.1 114 44 37 29 86 20 4 2 411 .277 8 8 0 5 13
        2012 2.56 10 – 2 16 – 16 5 1 0 123.0 97 39 35 30 130 18 2 3 455 .213 6 10 0 2 10
        2013 2.12 10 – 4 14 – 14 4 2 0 106.1 80 37 25 23 130 13 2 2 395 .203 11 11 0 5 7

        1. Spriggs

          Appel’s strikeouts per 9 are significantly better this year, no? Less walks too. Better era. Relative to college hitters, is what I meant by bringing up his age. Grey is 4 months younger, but i wasn’t really comparing him to Grey. Just wondering how to account for the better stats in 2013. And I still think they are significantly better.

      2. DarthHater

        Appel’s stats in 2012 were almost as good as in 2013 and, if not for concerns about signability, he would probably have been the top pick in the 2012 draft.

  6. Idaho Razorback

    I go big or I go home. That’s why I take Grey. There’s something about Appel I don’t like.

    1. JB88

      Can you put your finger on what it is that you don’t like? His results have been a bit mixed this year and his pitch counts over the past few years make me nervous, but, he strikes me as the better, more complete pitcher than Grey, who seems more thrower at this stage than Appel.

      1. TonyS

        I have similar thoughts JB. Appel is the more rounded pitcher who still throw hard but the mileage on his arm is a big concern for me. I dont know much about him but if he’s had a consistent action and little history of arm injuries then hopefully that’s a good indication of his future health.
        Maybe the Appel dislike stems from his non-signing last draft and his agent?

  7. Rizzo 44

    I hope Bryant is the pick for the Cubs. I really feel like 80 power is hard to pass on. I really hope we get some players in this draft that know how to work a count and some high OBP guys for the future. I hate that the current team ranks near the bottom in walks. (May be at the bottom). I bet the Cubs take Appel with the first pick just because they don’t have much in terms of top arms in AA or AAA so that’s my guess.

    1. Jim

      My only concern with Bryant is that many think he will have to move to 1B or into the outfield. I know that you cannot draft based on need, but Rizzo, Shoulders, Geiger and Vogelbach are already manning the 1B position and doing very well, it would seem to me that this pick would result in some trade needing to happen. Moran could be a safer 3B bet with not a lot of drop off in offense.

  8. Idaho Razorback

    Gray. Stupid drunk fingers.

  9. North Side Irish

    Appel is the top talent in the draft, so if you can get him at #2 you do it without even thinking about it. He’s more polished than Gray, has a better 3rd pitch, and a higher floor.

    Barring injury, I’d guess there’s a 90% chance Appel makes the majors. With Gray, I’d say it’s more like 70% and if he doesn’t refine his changeup, there’s a good chance he’s a reliever.

    Gray has a slightly higher ceiling, but not enough to warrant passing on a “safer” pick like Appel.

    1. Aaron

      This is pretty much spot on, from what I’ve heard.

    2. SenorGato

      The ceiling thing has always made me chuckle. Both have the upside of a #1 starter in the majors. Gray’s is often cited as being higher in upside, but does that mean he will be more #1ier or acier? Its just one of.those.quirks in the scouting world.

      OTOH there is some shot that Gray takes to pro conditioning like a muh, continues to.improve his physique and mechanics, improves his command of all three pitches, and really is more acier…That would be interesting.

  10. Rizzo 44

    I really think the Cubs should look to trade Garza, Feldman, Marmol, Soriano, Hariston, DeJesus, and any other BP arm they can. I would like to see the Cubs get some top 100 pitching in return for any package of these to help for the future. I think the Red Sox’s, Yankees, Orioles, Nationals, Braves, Indians, Tigers, San Fran, Arizona, Colorado, Oakland, and the Rays will all be upgrading at the deadline. So we will have lots of teams to make deals with.

    1. JB88

      I like your enthusiasm, but I think you severely overestimate the return the Cubs will receive for any of those players.

      1. Rizzo 44

        I think Garza can bring back a top 100 and I think Soriano and Dejesus could do the same. Have to be the right team and a big need, but very possible.

        1. JB88

          I just don’t see it. Especially with Soriano or DeJesus. Maybe, just maybe, Garza could land you that, but with the health concerns and the limited sample size this year, I think that is also unlikely.

          1. Rizzo 44

            All depends on need. DeJesus is having a great year. Soriano will hit the second half always does. Garza will only bring that back after he proves he is 100% healthy. With all that said I think each can net you a top 100 overall player.

            1. Voice of reason

              Cubs fans are so used to average players that they think dejesus is having a great year.

              Dejesus is hitting .277.

              That is in no way a great year.

              1. DarthHater

                Maybe not great, but DeJesus is 23rd in the NL in wOBA, which is pretty darn good and great for DeJesus. Assessing a player’s overall performance based on batting average is asinine.

              2. Drew7

                Dejesus has an .816 OPS – 6th in the NL among CF’ers

                Now, he may not end up having a great year, since it’s only May, but that *is* a great start.

                1. Voice of reason

                  Drew7, you do realize that being the 6th best in the category you mentioned makes him average, right?

                  You are so happy to say he is 6th, yet there are just 15 national league teams which makes 15 starting center fielders.

                  He is 6 out of 15. Big deal. That’s average at it’s best.

                  1. DarthHater

                    Of course, you respond here and not to my post about his wOBA ranking, which is both based on a more meaningful stat than OPS and shows DeJesus as ranked 23rd among all NL players – far above average.

                    Even among CFers, he is 5th in the NL in wOBA (“average,” by your reasoning would be 7.5th). Also, the average wOBA for the top 15 CFs in the NL is .329, DeJesus’ wOBA is .355 — again, significantly better than average.

                    But, hey, why try to look shit up or figure out the truth, when you can just assert preconceived conclusions and call yourself the voice of reason?

                    1. DarthHater

                      Sorry, actually, by your definition, “average” would be 8th in the NL, which is even better for my argument,.

                    2. Voice of reason

                      I told you before that I would never respond to your posts.

                      I don’t respond to people who come on here and call others names. That’s so childish and silly and its a total reflection of ones intellect.

                      So, do me a favor and don’t even read my posts.

                      I’m certain most go right over your head.

                    3. DarthHater

                      Yea, ignorant pig-headedness backed by arrogance has a way of going far over my head.

                      I don’t give a rat’s ass if you respond to my posts or not, but don’t go around replying to weaker arguments and then pretending like you’re making some kind of brilliant point. And thanks for the advice, but I’ll continue to read and respond to whatever the fuck I like.

              3. BT

                DeJesus is have a very good year, but not a great one. However, posting his batting average proves nothing.

                1. Cubbie Blues

                  I beg to differ. It says a lot about the person using BA to show over-all worth.

              4. Hookers or Cake

                Sighting batting average as how well a hitter is performing is like judging how fast a car is based on its color.
                His OPS is 817 and his WAR is 1.6 – he’s a lefty who plays +D in the corners and solid in center. The downside is he’s having a career year because the Cubs are platooning him and he’s 33. But match him with Feldman and you could get a top 100 prospect.

                1. Rizzo 44

                  Thank you

                2. Voice of reason

                  Sure they could get a top 100 when u match him with Feldman.

                  Forget I mentioned batting average.

                  Dejesus is vanilla, average, mediocre, run of the mill all wrapped up in one.

                  He is what he is. Trading him alone gets u next to nothing. On a contending team he is a fifth outfielder or possibly in a platoon.

                  1. Cubbie Blues

                    Platooning DeJesus is a wonderful idea. Do you think the Cubs should employ such a strategy? Actually he has a wRC+ 124. That is good for 9th among all CFers & within 4 points of being in 6th (that is where McCutchen is). DeJesus is having a mighty fine year no matter how you look at it. He would be an excellent add-in on a trade to get that extra value out of a team.

                    1. Voice of reason

                      Putting dejesus in a platoon with the cubs won’t matter in the wins and losses. This team loses about 100 games no matter what.

                      They need to find a solid trade partner to move dejesus to. Then maybe that team can use him in a beneficial platoon.

                    2. Cubbie Blues

                      I thought you said they wouldn’t be able to get anything for him and that platooning him was a bad thing.

                  2. Rizzo 44

                    He’s having a great year and I stand by that DeJesus added with Feldman or Garza only helps bring back more and better prospects. For you to say he is not having a good year and back it up with a batting avg. is pretty dang funny. He would be a great number 2 hitter on most any team making a run at a WS. High OBP and works a count for the leadoff man to get into scoring position. The Cubs need more speed. I would love to keep DeJesus and find a top of the order speed man also with high OBP and see what are record looks like then with DeJesus in the number 2 hole.

                    1. Voice of reason

                      He’s not having a great year and obviously the cubs disagree with your assessment as they will be happy to move dejesus. It’s just a matter of time.

                      They will take a marginal minor leaguermfor him cause he isn’t worth much more when traded alone.

                      I come on this website and I read that dejesus is one of the best center fielders and our third bas men is one of the best. My goodness, we have a bunch of great players on this team yet we will lose 100 games again this year.

                      Wake up…. Dejesus is as average as they come and when u throw him in with the rest of the bunch you have a team that loses 100 games.

      2. SenorGato

        If one top 100 for Garza is overzealous then this trading season is going to suck.

        1. Hookers or Cake

          yeah if we can’t get top 100 for Garza… I dunno what to do. If he plays out the string with so-so results I’d probably give him a one year and at least get a comp or another shot. I just hate extending a guy who’s missed almost a year and has alot of questions.

          1. Voice of reason

            Hookers, you can offer garza a one year contract and then he will laugh in you’re face. Right now he is one of the best free agent starters out there. He will get four years as long as he finishes the year healthy.

            The cubs aren’t in a position to offer another starter fournyears like they Jackson. This team is two years away from even thinking about competing. That means you are rolling the dice that he will still be good in three years. The cubs won’t take that chance and they don’t need to. There will be a Matt garza like pitcher when they are readymto compete.

            Until then, take whatever you can get for garza and keep building the minor league system with prospects.

            You have to be patient, but this time it will be worth it.

      3. Kyle

        A mere top-100 for Garza is a strong disappointment.

        1. Hookers or Cake

          Its very disappointing because we could’ve gotten twice as much before 12 but are you saying he is worth more right now than a top 100 guy? I wouldn’t trade for him today and give up a Soler level guy (who is more top 50) but what about a decent 75-100ish SP prospect? You think he is worth more than that? Right now?

          1. Voice of reason

            They will trade garza and that’s the right move.

            They will stick to the plan.

            They have too many number three starters and that’s what garza could be forthe rest of his career.

            They can’t hold up another spot in the rotation for an average starter.

            They will let him go and get what they can and keep moving forward.

            There are a lot of innings on that arm and it is starting to show.

            When the cubs are ready to really compete in three years there will be another garza outthere that they can sign.

            Until then stick to the plan and keep adding minor leaguers into the system.

            This is the price we are paying for neglecting the minor leagues for years and years.

            This team will be terrible again next year, but there is a plan and it will work. We just have to be patient.

            1. Voice of reason

              Another way to look at garza is if they should sign him to a four year deal, the first two years of the deal they will still stink. So, you’re betting that he will still be a solid starter three years from now.

              That’s too much of a question mark for the boys in the front office to stomach. They already have their one stupid starter sign with Edwin Jackson. They don’t want to build a trophy case of Edwin jackson’s!!!!!

            2. Cubbie Blues







              1. Cubbie Blues

                Well, that just isn’t fair, Brett.

  11. john

    would you want Marmol, Feldman, Hairston, etc. to be the guy that your team picked up at the deadline to put themselves over the top? please be honest

    1. Voice of reason

      It would depend on what each team needs.

      If I have areally good bullpen I don’t need marmol. If I could use an outfield stick off then bench or for a spot start then Hairston looks good.

      Feldman is obviously having the best year so far out of all of them, but Hairston could end up having a better year.

      We’re not dealing with future hall of gamers by any means.

  12. Jp3

    I’m sure Sveum’s thoughts would be interesting but why would they ask him what he thought? He probably won’t be around when said prospect (except Appel or Moran possibly) reaches the majors in a couple years…

    1. Spriggs

      They would be stupid if they didn’t ask him. He knows a thing or two about hitting and playing the game, so why wouldn’t they ask for his input? Not that he is making the final decision or anything, but he probably does have valuable input for them to consider.

    2. Dustin S

      My guess is that Sveum probably thinks he has more input on the draft than he really has.

      1. Jp3

        Dang Dustin you beat me to it. I’m sure it’s out of respect and not necessarily because it holds any weight at all.

  13. Rizzo 44

    Feldman will help a team. Hairston could be a key bench player for a club needing power off the bench. Marmol we just have to pray the someone will take him in a package with Garza or Soriano. That’s my opinion. Will they be big upgrades… No, but they could help. That’s my honest opinion. Marmol is done in Chicago so a change could help.

  14. SenorGato

    I am pretty much Appel or bust. Bryant vs Moran depends on the glove for me. If the FO went position player I cant say ive seen either enough to have a preference. Never been on the Gray bandwagon if only because I see more Papelbon than Roger Clemens there. Not impressed by his command considering hes the next ace in the making, and both his offspeeds need work to match the hype consistently. He timed his hype better than Manaea and Stanek, two others supposedly better than Appel, so give him props for that.

    1. Hookers or Cake

      Yeah the glove does a lot for a position player. If Vitters was a touch above average he’d probably be our 3B.
      I don’t know enough about the prospects but I would take the surest thing (Appel) unless you know a guy that will go quite a bit under slot and is in the same tier with the top prospects.

  15. Cubbie Blues

    As long as we can cut down on these pitches I think we will be doing fine.

  16. Superman

    Honestly I think if Appel is availiable when the Cubs pick you have to pick him regardless of what the first pick it. His ceiling is a #1 ace and his floor is #3 starter in the bigs. If the Astros take him first overall then I think you take Bryant because of his power. The one thing that stinks about Bryant is scouts do not think he will stay at 3rd and end up in the corner in the OF. I would pick him ahead of Gray and Appel if he could stay at 3rd and prove his defense is a plus there but that is not what the scouting reports suggest.

    Appel is as much of a lock as you can get and would likely see the bigs sometime in 2014 where as Bryant will take longer. Gray is not as polished as Appel and has limited track record and his mechanics need cleaned up, that tells me he will take longer to make it to the show.

    Appel first choice for the Cubs no doubt.
    Bryant 2nd if Appel goes first overall.

    1. another JP

      Exactly what I think should happen too. If don’t get Appel we have a power bat in our line-up by 2015, with Appel we could either resign Garza or deal him (my preference). Our rotation looks pretty good if we can get Shark on a long term and with Appel as a #2 guy.

  17. Superman

    Hey Brett,

    I have heard and seen some places that have Sean Manaea falling rapidly. Do you think if he is availiable when the Cubs pick at 41 they take him?

    Do you think he could last that long?

    Other guys I would drool at the Cubs getting at 41 are Kyle Serrano orJonathon Crawford

    My pipe dream though and not likely to happen is D.J. Peterson. He is right up there with Bryant and Moran as the best pure hitter and power hitter. Just not as well known. He could go top 15 or fall some but I am not sure so far the CUbs have a chance at him.

  18. Lou Brock

    I see there are a lot of Bryant supporters on this sight but I believe Moran fits the organizations blueprint for positional players. One he is left handed, he is more likely to stick at third base, he has a 4 to 1 BB to K’s ratio. He is also younger than Bryant & both pitchers & he was raised in a cold weather climate. He has had great success in the summer league at Cape Cod with wooden bats.
    All of the big bats coming up in the system are predominantly right handed – Baez, Soler, & Almora along with Castro & Castillo on the current roster suggesting we need some left handed balance. Take Moran with this pick & Ziomek the LHP from Vandy with pick 41.
    Your future starting 5 would be Samardzija, Wood, Johnson, Ziomek, & Vizcaino or Paniagua.
    The lineup could be Alcantara 2b, Moran 3b, Almora CF, Rizzo 1B, Soler RF, Baez LF, Castro SS, & Castillo C.

    1. someday...2015?

      So would you take Moran over Appel or Gray?

    2. john

      That payroll would be about 50 mill, I would hope we’d spend a bit more than that

    3. DarthHater

      The odds that Moran, Ziomek, Johnson, Vizcaino, Paniagua, Alcantara, Almora, Soler, and Baez all become significant ML contributors is infinitesimal.

  19. Lou Brock

    In response to someday 2015 – I think Moran can be a major league everyday player with a very likely high degree of success. I think both pitchers offer a lesser likelihood of long term success. Injuries occur most often to pitchers rather than positional players. Mark Prior had short term success and was supposedly perfect mechanically.
    Moran plays in a tough conference to hit in & has progressed every year as well as in Cape Cod summer ball. He also fills that blueprint perfectly that the FO says they are looking for. Great selectivity, high OBP, with projectible gap power. Not to mention he fills that gaping hole over at third base. He will turn 21 in October so he is a full year plus younger than the two pitchers & Bryant.

    1. Rizzo 44

      Good reason for your choice. I think Moran would also be a great 3B long term. He could be another David Wright type 3B. if he feel to 41 which he wont and the Cubs get Appel at 2 then I take Moran. I still say take Bryant, but I like the points you made.

  20. Mick

    I’d prefer Kris Bryant for our top pick but I’m also coming around on Mark Appel because of his polish and this organization’s need for starting pitching. I’m leaning Bryant because we need a 3B of the future and I don’t think Baez is it. I’m not even sure Baez is long for this organization because of the new regime’s insistence on plate discipline. Bryant on the other hand has proven an almost 1:1 K/BB ratio and has undeniable HR ability. In the end, you draft the guy who plays 162 games instead of the guy who only starts 30.

    1. Mick

      …and 1:1 K/BB ratio has improved, I was looking at his 2011 and 2012 stats. In 2013 his line is 62 BBs and 40 Ks.

  21. Die hard

    Hmmm —- Moran suspiciously in the mix after I suggested him with Green lhp in 2nd round

    1. Drew7

      “Lou Brock” was beating the Moran drum long before you, Gramps.

  22. Die hard

    If I were Ricketts I would invite retired Cubs to watch the videos to see if the kids show that instinct to be able to play in Wrigley

  23. Die hard

    Sleeper pick? Frazier OF HS tremendous bat speed with lots of upside

  24. BallZac

    I go Gray! Appel is a little guy what’s he going to become a verlander or Felix the king w that build? No… The Tarheels kid has a remarkable eye at the plate.. Takes a lot of walks. Could use the obp.

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