We’re one week away from the draft – literally, it starts one week from today (EEEEEEEEEEEE!) – and it wouldn’t be the run-up to the big day(s) without a juicy rumor or two. Thankfully for the pleasure centers of our brains, Jon Heyman offers up something interesting today.
Jon Heyman reports that, although it’s entirely possible the Astros might select NC State lefty Carlos Rodon or high school lefty Brady Aiken with their first overall pick, as expected, it’s also possible they could surprise everyone and grab a significant under slot deal. The rumor going around baseball circles, according to Heyman, is that the Astros might select high school shortstop Nick Gordon (to whom the Cubs have been intermittently attached).
With such a selection, the Astros could save significantly on signing him – savings that could go to picks later in the draft. That’s the strategy they used a couple years ago to nab Carlos Correa, also a shortstop, with the first overall pick. Not only did they save a couple million under slot and put it to use on some interesting guys later in the draft, but they also wound up with a pretty great prospect in Correa. If they feel strongly enough about Gordon – and wary enough about the arms at the top of the draft – they could do it again this year.
It seems unlikely, given the strength of the pitchers at the top, but it’s certainly interesting to think about what could happen if the Astros did go for Gordon. Imagine that the Marlins then pick the top bat in the draft, Alex Jackson, as they have done in many recent mock drafts (plenty of rumors also attach Jackson to the Marlins). From there, no matter who the White Sox select at three, the Cubs would be guaranteed their choice of two of the top three arms, at least. Pretty nice position to be in.
That said, I still think we’re going to see Rodon and Aiken off the board by the time the Cubs pick. It’s possible high school righty Tyler Kolek will still be there, but it’s unclear whether the Cubs would jump to grab him, given recent concerns about his size and velocity (as in, he almost throws too hard for a team not to be worried about a future injury). There are the many rumors about the Cubs going under slot with someone like Max Pentecost or Michael Conforto, but it still seems at least as plausible that the Cubs will end up with one of Gordon or Jackson, or possibly even LSU righty Aaron Nola.