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2014 mlb draft featureThe start of the draft is now just five days away, and it’ll wrap up just about a week from now …

  • Baseball America is out with its fourth mock draft, and I’d say Ben Badler nailed it when he called this version a “dream scenario” for the Cubs. It has the Astros taking Brady Aiken at the top, as expected (he’s called the “consensus” top talent in the draft), the Marlins taking Alex Jackson, the White Sox taking Tyler Kolek, which means … yes, the Cubs get NC State lefty Carlos Rodon.
  • It still seems very unlikely, but BA’s John Manuel notes that there is a lot of chatter about Rodon slipping in the draft, in part because the White Sox are increasingly tied to Kolek. Legit? Hard to know at this time of year, and it always depends on what information these teams are able to extract from the players about how much it’ll take to sign. I think Rodon would cost the Cubs more than slot to sign ($4.62 million), and it’s worth noting that the White Sox’s slot at three is $1.1 million higher. In other words, even if the Cubs could go over slot for Rodon, they still might not be in a position to realistically “offer” him more than $5 million or so in pre-draft discussions (that are totally not taking place), and the White Sox could use that information/speculation to tell Rodon, “Hey, man, we’ll take you at three, and we’ll give you $5.5 million (slightly under slot) – that’s more than you’re going to be able to get from any other team.”
  • For me, I’ll stick to what I landed on a couple weeks ago: in some order, I still think the top three pitchers go in the top three picks. The second most-likely scenario is that Alex Jackson goes in the top three, together with Rodon and Aiken. The Cubs then will choose between Kolek (slot-ish), Gordon (slot-ish), Aaron Nola (slightly under slot?), and Max Pentecost (under slot).
  • BA’s mock also includes information at the top on the health of some of the top college pitchers, lefties Brandon Finnegan (TCU) and Kyle Freeland (Evansville). Each recently had a medical evaluation, including an MRI, and that information was distributed to teams. Each pitcher has, at times, been connected to the Cubs, but I’ve heard the Cubs are understandably very nervous about considering any pitcher with any kind of past arm issues, given where they’re selecting (and how much they cannot afford to miss on this pick). A clean bill of health pre-draft certainly helps these guys, but I’m not sure it would matter to the Cubs.
  • Ken Woolums writes about the draft over the years, and – surprise – the Cubs have been bad. Like, worst in baseball since 1965. Tons of other interesting draft data in that piece.
  • Remember the flap a few months back about the Phillies busting a couple college pitchers with the NCAA because those pitchers had been working with “advisors” who were really agents, and then didn’t sign with the Phillies? If not, that’s what happened, which was viewed as very, very crappy on the part of the Phillies, given that every player does it, as they should, because it would be pretty unfair to expect these kids to negotiate with MLB teams without professional assistance. Well, the Phillies are now explaining their side of the story, which doesn’t really pass the smell test – it amounts to: all we did was answer standard questions the NCAA asks when guys don’t sign. If that’s true, given that pretty much every player uses an advisor, I think we’d be seeing far more players suspended by the NCAA following the draft.
  • Minor League Ball ranks the top 350 draft prospects – something that’ll likely become more handy during/after the draft than before it, but it’s interesting to see the names at the top: Aiken, Kolek, Rodon, and Jackson, in that order. Fifth is prep righty Grant Holmes, who seems to be a pretty polarizing player at this point – some have him in their top five, while others have him down in the late teens. I suppose that also speaks to the nature of this year’s draft crop at the top. That Jeff Hoffman injury sure did stink. (Nick Gordon is next, by the way, followed by Michael Chavis, a high school third baseman out of Georgia about whom we’ve heard very little.)
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer sums up some of our latent feelings about the Cubs’ draft location this year:

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