I’d forgotten how much I enjoy these kind of “buzzy” days, where rumors are flying fast and furious, and everyone in the baseball world is talking about the same thing. I suppose it hasn’t been like this since the Winter Meetings, which were kind of uneventful last year. At least today, we *know* some stuff is going down.
- The final mock drafts are filtering out, and Keith Law has the Astros stepping up to take Mark Appel. The Cubs then take Jonathan Gray, whom Law says the Cubs rank almost even with Appel (the only difference being money). If true, then the Cubs really don’t care who goes first, and might even prefer this scenario, as Gray is likely to come more cheaply than Appel, especially if the Cubs can still plausible say they’re considering Kris Bryant (which they might be).
- Jim Callis’ mock was discussed earlier, and has the Cubs getting Appel after the Astros take Gray.
- Jonathan Mayo’s final mock follows Callis’s, with Gray going 1.1, and Appel going 1.2. He mentions Bryant as a possibility, but his best guess remains Appel to the Cubs.
- Speaking of Bryant, he’s getting a lot of late love both nationally (long, interesting profile here from Scott Miller), and locally (Bruce Levine pushes for the Cubs to take Bryant here). For Levine, it isn’t just about the risk associated with pitching prospects; it’s a matter of at least one talent evaluator telling Levine that Bryant is the best player in the Draft.
- Scott Boras – advisor to both Mark Appel and Kris Bryant, among others – still couches Appel’s refusal to sign last year as a problem with the current slotting system. “[The failure to sign] had nothing to do with the Pittsburgh Pirates, it had to do with the system,” Boras told Jon Heyman. “When they drafted a player at a slot grandly below the value of the player, the system did not allow them to sign the player.” I’ve never blamed Appel for holding out for more money, and he’s going to get it this year. But, like I’ve said before: woe be to the team who takes him if he slides out of the top five. I certainly hope that Boras doesn’t use any of his young clients to make a point about the current system (i.e., by telling them not to sign because the slot at which they’re taken is too low) at the expense of that player. It worked for Appel, but it wouldn’t work for everyone.
- Patrick Mooney writes about the Cubs’ tough decision, and says that it’s really down to Appel, Gray, and Bryant (meaning Colin Moran isn’t really in the mix). Reading Jason McLeod’s quotes in the piece about Gray putting together a great year – in contrast with the other big names who weren’t necessarily late risers like Gray – I can’t help but sense that he’s not gaga about Gray. That, of course, could mean that McLeod isn’t gaga about Gray, or is just playing it close to the vest, … or it could mean that you can’t really take a whole lot out of a black and white quote. It’s probably that one.
- Dale Sveum has offered his thoughts on the top four options (Bryant, Appel, Gray, and Moran), and said it’s win-win-win-win. “As far as picking one guy, there’s so much involved in that,” Sveum said, per Carrie Muskat. “You’ve got a position player who has out-homered 200 Division I schools [in Bryant], and you’ve got a starting pitcher who maybe can step right in your rotation right now [in Appel], and you have a guy with a dominating fastball who can throw the ball by anybody at any time [in Gray]. You have Moran, who’s a professional quality left-handed hitter who knows the strike zone.” Which praise sounds the most effusive to you?