Ah, at long last, MLB’s answer to 90 days of Mel Kiper barking at you has arrived. It’s the 2013 MLB Draft, and it starts at 6pm CT. My anticipation was too great to wait until then to throw up this post.
Although the MLB Draft doesn’t come with the same energy or immediacy as that NFL Draft (or the NBA Draft, which I’m told is still a thing), it is as important to each of MLB’s teams as the NFL Draft is to its teams.
And, when you’re in the middle of a deep rebuilding process, pick second overall, and have the second largest bonus pool to spend in the Draft, the importance is further amplified.
So it is for the Chicago Cubs, who pick second this evening. Will it be Stanford righty Mark Appel? Oklahoma righty Jonathan Gray? Which one will be left by the Astros, who pick first overall? Will they both be there? Will the Cubs go for third baseman Kris Bryant either way? The scenarios are surprisingly plentiful, given that the Cubs’ draft board need only be two names deep at the top.
Tonight’s first day of the Draft will cover not only the first round, but also the competitive balance rounds (after the first and second rounds), and the second round. The Cubs don’t get any competitive balance picks (you know, because the competitive balance system RAWX), but they do have the second pick in the second round. In other words, tonight, you’ll get to see the Cubs select second and 41st, overall. Don’t sleep on that 41st pick – last year, the Cubs got Pierce Johnson (a first round talent who is pitching quite well in A-ball right now, and who is a consensus top 10 prospect in the Cubs’ system) at number 43.
The Draft, itself, gets underway at 6pm CT, and you can watch on MLB Network, or a stream at MLB.com.
We’ll cover the picks here live in this post, and I reckon there will be a steady stream of salient thoughts dropped in the comments, on the Message Board, on Twitter, and on Facebook. So join in, wherever your preference for chatting might lie. (Last year, this post got almost 600 comments. We can beat that this year, right?)
Enjoy the night, friends.
A little pre-Draft update from Dave Kaplan, who says he’s hearing buzz that the Cubs are planning to take Kris Bryant.
And Jim Callis just released one last mock draft, which still has the Astros taking Gray at 1.1, and the Cubs taking Appel (over Bryant) at 1.2.
The pre-Draft show on MLB Network makes sure to drop the Mark Appel – Mark Prior comparison. There is some modest similarity (other than the obvious superficial stuff), but using that comp is about riling folks up. Ignore it. In fact, ignore almost all player comps.
We’re just 10 minutes away from the Draft, and everyone is admitting that they have no idea what the Astros are going to do. Because no one knows that for sure, no one can project the Cubs’ pick. If this winds up going Kohl Stewart at one and Kris Bryant at two, all prognosticators are going to have to hang their head a little bit.
In the final pre-Draft update, reports – including Keith Law, most prominently – have the Astros taking Appel. We’ll see.
Away we go with the picks …
1. First overall, the Houston Astros select Mark Appel. So much for that late surprise buzz. I’m a touch bummed, as Appel has been the guy I’ve wanted since day one. But you can’t blame the Astros for taking him, and it’s not as if there aren’t still very talented options on the board for the Cubs (ones that maybe they’ve wanted all along). Odds now favor the Cubs taking one of Gray or Bryant here, and I’m not going to be angry either way. I want the guy that the Cubs want, and that’s who they’ll take. Convenient, eh?
2. The Chicago Cubs take third baseman Kris Bryant. They took extra time with the pick, which makes me wonder if Bryant pulled the trigger on what the Cubs were offering, or whether Gray declined. There’s no disappointment here, as Bryant is a legit top pick, and there were a lot of risks with Gray. I suspect the Cubs wanted Appel, and they simply couldn’t get him. So Bryant is a very nice consolation prize, and could be a great one. I’d expect to see the Cubs now go pitching-heavy in the next several rounds like they did last year after taking Albert Almora in the first round.
- Some further thoughts on Bryant while we wait on the next set of picks. It will be interesting to see what kind of deal Bryant gets. After setting records in his junior year, I don’t think he risks going back for his senior year, and may very well take an underslot deal.
3. The Rockies ended up taking Jonathan Gray, so the top three prospects went in the top three picks, even if the order was wonky. The Cubs certainly got the safest of the three top picks, and one with arguably as much upside as Gray. Maybe that makes Bryant the best possible pick? Maybe I’m just doing some ex post facto’ing.
4. The Twins took high school pitcher Kohl Stewart, to whom they’d been attached for weeks before the late Astros rumors today.
- A reminder here – the Cubs next pick at number 41. Seems a fair bet it will be a pitcher.
5. The Indians take high school outfield Clint Frazier, and this was about as high as anyone thought he’d go. Arguably the top high school bat in the draft.
- Bruce Levine tweets what I’d suspected: the Cubs’ board read Appel then Bryant. To be clear, I’m perfectly happy with Bryant, but I’m bummed the Cubs didn’t get their top guy.
6. The Marlins take UNC third baseman Colin Moran, and immediately trade him for salary relief.
7. The Reds Sox take high school pitcher Trey Ball, a lefty who also has some positional skills.
8. The Royals take Hunter Dozier, a collegiate bat who was not expected to go in the top 30. Looks like a money-saving move for later overslot signings. Maybe they grab Sean Manaea in the competitive balance portion.
9. The Pirates take Austin Meadows, the high school outfielder who’s been up there with Frazier all draft season. I’m sure they’re happy to get him at nine. This was the pick the Pirates got for not signing Mark Appel last year. I’m sure they’re not happy about that part.
10. The Blue Jays take high school pitcher Phillip Bickford.
11. The Mets take high school first baseman Dominic Smith, who was the subject of late Rockies rumors.
12. The Mariners take New Mexico third baseman DJ Peterson.
13. The Padres take Mississippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe.
14. The Pirates take high school catcher Reese McGuire, the best prep catcher in a long time, and a borderline top 10 pick. Pretty nice back-to-back picks for the Pirates.
15. The Diamondbacks take Nevada pitcher Braden Shipley.
16. The Phillies take high school shortstop JP Crawford, who wears a lovely bow tie.
17. The White Sox take high school shortstop Tim Anderson.
18. The Dodgers take Jacksonville pitcher Chris Anderson. Cubs took him in the 35th round back in 2010.
19. The Cardinals take Gonzaga pitcher Marco Gonzalez, who looks pretty good. But now he’ll become an ace.
20. The Tigers take Florida starter Jonathan Crawford, and we’re starting to see a little bit of a run on pitchers. Hopefully that stops for about 20 more picks.
21. The Rays take Nick Ciuffo, a high school catcher who had quite a group of fans with him at the Draft. They screamed.
22. The Orioles take high school pitcher Hunter Harvey.
23. The Rangers take Oral Roberts pitcher Alex Gonzalez.
24. The A’s take high school outfielder Billy McKinney.
25. The Giants take high school shortstop Christian Arroyo, who was not generally thought to be a top 100 prospect in the draft. The Yankees come next, and I wonder if they finally pull the trigger on Ryne Stanek or Sean Manaea. We’re definitely reaching “tough to sign” territory on those two.
26. The Yankees take Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo.
27. The Reds take Samford outfielder Phillip Ervin. You just know the Cards are going to take Stanek or Manaea …
28. The Cardinals take high school pitcher Rob Kaminsky.
29. Wow, it’s the Rays who take Ryne Stanek, one of the better college arms whose stock fell far this year. I guess the Rays are ready to pay a little bit.
30. The Rangers take high school shortstop Travis Demeritte.
31. The Braves take Oklahoma State pitcher Jason Hursh.
32. The Yankees take Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge.
33. The Yankees take high school pitcher Ian Clarkin, one of the top high school arms in the Draft who slid a bit.
- That wraps up the First Round of the Draft. Now we move on to the Competitive Balance A section.
34. The Royals take Sean Manaea, which had become expected. They saved big money on their first rounder, and they clearly did so in order to grab the best player that slipped to this point. It was Manaea, and now we’ll see if he’s healthy and will sign.
35. Andre Dawson announces the Marlins’ next pick, high school righty Matt Krook, who would have been a nice pick for the Cubs at 41.
36. The Diamondbacks take Washington pitcher Aaron Blair, who was the “other” player who tested positive for a banned stimulant this year. Was a possibility for Cubs at 41.
37. The Orioles take high school outfielder Josh Hart.
38. The Reds take Cal State Fullerton pitcher Michael Lorenzen.
39. The Tigers take Texas pitcher Corey Knebel. And that’s the end of the Competitive Balance A round.
- The second round begins with the Astros, and it looks like the Cubs will have plenty of quality arms to choose from if they decide to go that route. The Cubs’ pick – number 41 overall – will be the last pick I cover live this evening, as it is the Cubs’ last pick of the day.
40. The Astros take UC Irvine pitcher Andrew Thurman. And here we go …
41. The Cubs take left-handed pitcher Rob Zastryzny out of Missouri. Baseball America ranked Zastryzny (wow, thanks, by the way, for the typing) 76th, and MLB.com did not have him in the top 100. He was 81st to Perfect Game. So, his range seems to be that 70 to 100ish ranking, which isn’t the end-all be-all, but you could argue the Cubs went off board a bit here, particularly given the better-known lefty options available. Here’s what Perfect Game (at Baseball Prospectus) had to say about Zastryzny: “Missouri’s first season in the SEC has been rough going, as the Tigers have posted a 7-17 conference mark and are 15-28 overall. Despite having a 2-9, 3.93 record (75 innings, 79 hits, 21 walks, 71 strikeouts) as Missouri’s Friday night starter, Zastryzny has seen his draft stock steadily rise through the course of the spring and could hear his name heard as early as the second round. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound southpaw was undrafted out of Corpus Christi, Texas high school despite going 17-1, 0.20 with 198 strikeouts his senior year. He stepped into the Missouri rotation early in his freshman year and has built his upper-80s fastball into a pitch that now tops out at 94 mph with excellent sinking and running life at times. Zastryzny’s best secondary pitch is a low-80s changeup that has very good arm speed and matches his fastball in life and in his ability to spot the ball low in the zone. His third pitch is a curveball that is a workable offering in setting up hitters, but it is not currently a swing-and-miss pitch.” Friday night starter in a major conference is always a good signal, and it doesn’t seem like he’ll be a tough sign. I like the Cubs taking a college lefty here, and I expect many more pitchers on the way in the early going.
Small update on Zastryzny, whose name I’m desperately practicing: reports floating around Twitter that he was sitting in the low-90s on his fastball this year, while hitting 95 mph. If true, it’s a big step up from previous velocity, and makes him a whole lot more enticing as a possible steal.
We’ll have much more on Zastryzny and Bryant tomorrow. Also, don’t forget: tonight’s just the beginning of the Draft. Rounds three through ten go tomorrow, starting at 12pm CT, and rounds 11 through 40 go on Saturday, starting at the same time.