stanford mark appelThe 2013 Draft is just six days away, and I’m pretty excited, in case you can’t tell.

  • A couple more mock drafts are out – from Keith Law and from Jonathan Mayo – and each has the Cubs taking Stanford righty Mark Appel with their first round pick (second overall). In Mayo’s mock, Jonathan Gray is gone at number one, and in Law’s mock, Gray is still available. Interestingly, Law says that he hears Theo Epstein loves Gray, but there’s a significant internal debate about who to take. Law lands on Appel for the Cubs because he believes Appel is the better player.
  • Even Jon Heyman’s getting into the Draft rumor game this year, saying he hears that UNC third baseman Colin Moran is moving up the draft boards and could go number one to the Astros. That might be an ideal scenario for the Cubs, who could then play all of Appel, Gray, and Bryant off of each other (assuming the Cubs see all three as good picks at 2).
  • Speaking of Moran at the top, Keith Law has also bought into the industry buzz that has the Astros take him first overall. Law believes that the next highest Moran could go is number 5 to Cleveland (which means he doesn’t see the Cubs taking Moran, despite his inclusion in the Cubs’ final four), which means the Astros could sign him for $4 million (more than he’d get from the Indians), and apply the savings throughout the rest of the Draft. It raises the interesting point that, if the Astros didn’t take Moran, the Cubs could pull the same trick with him, saving more than $2 million to be applied elsewhere in the Draft. I tend to think they won’t go that route, however, if they even slightly prefer one of the other top four guys.
  • Speaking of the cost to sign these guys, it’s generally believed that Appel is going to want the most of Appel/Gray/Bryant, even though the latter two have the leverage of a return to college on their side. Appel, however, has the leverage of holding up all of his other teams’ signings – he doesn’t have to sign by the normal signing deadline. As a college senior, he can hold out until the next draft, meaning that the team selecting him could go into their other signings blind (not knowing whether the cost of Appel was going to blow the budget).
  • How much would Appel cost to sign? Might he really turn the screws on the team that takes him? Well, the good news is that Jonathan Mayo is reporting there is no concern that he’s going to hold out. Scouting sources tell Mayo that Appel’s negotiation is expected to be relatively forthright, and teams are probably going to know what he wants – similar to what he wanted last year. If memory serves, he was looking for something in the $7 million range from Pirates, who refused to blow their pool to sign him. At $7 million, the Cubs would have to go about $300,000 over slot to sign him. My guess is he ends up signing for something between the $3.8 million he was offered last year and the Cubs’ $6.7 million slot value at number two. Woe be to the team who takes him if he slides out of the top five.
  • The bottom line on Appel’s cost: the Cubs aren’t going to draft him at two overall unless they are very confident that he’ll sign at a number that makes sense with the rest of their budget.
  • At present, Jim Callis doesn’t see any chance the Cubs don’t take one of Appel or Gray with their top pick.
  • Mayo profiles Appel, who says he has no regrets about going back to school for his senior season, and he can’t worry about people thinking he was being foolish or greedy. Indeed, Appel thinks that the pressure that came with that decision has put him in a better position to succeed going forward. Appel seems like an interesting guy based on the quotes in the piece. One of the more existential bits: “My worth isn’t bound in a long baseball career or making a lot of money. My hope and value are already taken care of. A big difference between early in my career and now is when I’m asked, ‘If baseball were to end today, would you be OK with that?’ My freshman year, I would’ve said no. Now, if baseball were to end today, would I be able to accept that? Yeah, it would be extremely tough, but I wouldn’t feel lost, because if for whatever reason I’m not playing baseball, that really frees me to not live up to any expectations or hype and not worry about what people say or think.” I’m sure some folks will see a statement like that and think it indicates a lack of passion for the game, but I doubt Appel meant it like that. I think he was just communicating a deeper message. Interesting.
  • nkniacc13

    While taking bats with high picks tend to be safer its always easier to trade pitching for hitting

  • Die hard

    Latest rumor? In this order– Gray Appel Bryant Frazier

    • Jp3

      Is that even a surprise? Do you mean the 1st 4 picks or our final 4?

      • Die hard

        Gray won’t sign with Astros so is surprise– Frazier would tho

  • Die hard

    Memo to Theo: A good catcher can make pitching staff over achieve–Randy Rebel Hundley or Johnny Bench for instance- if this top ranked catcher is the real deal then why waste pick on one good pitcher when one good catcher can improve entire staff ?

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