The Final Four; Massive 2013 First Year Player Draft Preview

There will come a time soon enough where the Cubs are not picking at the top of the draft, this year is not that time as the Cubs pick number two overall.  Picking that high obviously means you suffered through the previous year, but it also means that you should get an impact player and that’s exactly what the Cubs are out to get.  This is an exciting time, not just because of the high pick, but because the Cubs are going to add forty some odd young men to their organization, but let’s focus on what they might do with their first pick.

Over the last few weeks we have read quotes, and stories about what the 2013-MLB-draft1Cubs might do with the number two pick, ultimately only the Cubs really know, but much like last year I think it has a lot to do with what the Astros do with the number one pick.  Now last year the Cubs were picking sixth, but I thought that whole draft changed when the Astros went with Carlos Correa at number one as that was a player that many people thought might be on the Cubs radar at six, he went one.  After the draft the Cubs were steadfast in their response, “Almora was the guy no matter what, we would have taken him number one.”  I like hearing that, the draft should be more about evaluating talent than reacting to what other teams are doing, sure you want to take the best available that high in the draft, but your best available might not be another teams best available.  The general consensus is that the Cubs have narrowed their choice down to four guys, let’s take a look at who the Cubs are looking at as well as my predictions.

Appel Draft

The Cubs want him, that’s my honest opinion, I think if the Cubs had the number one pick in the draft they would take Appel.  Funny thing is, the Cubs had a shot at Appel in last years draft, but Appel slipped, he was once thought of as the number one overall pick last year until his bonus demands scared a number of teams off.  Appel eventually went eighth to the Pirates but could not come to terms on a contract so returned to Stanford for his senior season, and here we are again with Appel atop the draft rankings.  It’s easy to see why the Cubs like him, he has a plus fastball, and three above average pitches that he can throw for strikes, and projects as a top of the rotation guy.  I don’t like saying can’t miss with a pitcher because of arm injuries that are just one pitch away, but he’s as can’t miss as they come.

Via Jonathan Mayo:

Scouting Grades* (present/future): Fastball: 7/8 | Slider: 5/6 | Changeup: 5/6 | Control: 5/6 | Overall: 5/7

*Players are graded on a 2-8 scale for both present and future tools. 2-3 is well below average, 4 is below average, 5 is average, 6 is above average and 7-8 is plus.

Prediction – Houston doesn’t pass on him twice and takes him at number one overall.
Cubs Chances – Fair, there is no clear-cut number one, and I think if the Astros don’t grab Appel then the Cubs will.

Gray Draft

You know, the Cubs need power arms, well here’s a power arm, and then some.  Gray has a plus plus fastball which has been clocked at triple digits, not just at the start of games, but late in games.  He might not be as polished as Appel, but he has two plus pitches and has a chance to keep developing that change-up into a plus pitch as well.  Now the positive adderall test, this has put a seed of doubt into some people’s minds, I wouldn’t say that I am one of them. I don’t think the Cubs are either, if the Cubs want an arm at number two and their best available (Apple, in my opinion) is off the board then they go with Gray.

Via Jonathan Mayo:

Scouting Grades* (present/future): Fastball: 7/8 | Slider: 5/6 | Changeup: 4/5 | Control: 4/5 | Overall: 5/6

*Players are graded on a 2-8 scale for both present and future tools. 2-3 is well below average, 4 is below average, 5 is average, 6 is above average and 7-8 is plus.

Prediction – Gray is still on the board at two and the Cubs take him.
Cubs Chances – Great, I think he will be on the board still, and it comes down to if the Cubs think Gray is the best available.

Bryant Draft

Yes I know that I have a Cubs logo with Bryant as well, here’s why.  This front office is very particular with their high first round picks, they prefer bats, specifically college bats.  Kris Bryant has rocketed up the draft charts because of his tremendous Junior season at the University of San Diego.  Third base is a challenge for the Cubs, not just at the  MLB level but at the minor league level as well.  Josh Vitters is the cream of the crop in the organization with whispers about Javier Baez being moved there.  If the Cubs want to grab a power bat at the hot corner this would be their chance.  The only thing that would pull the Cubs away from Bryant would be his swing and miss potential, but some say his power makes up for that.

Via Jonathan Mayo:

Scouting Grades* (present/future): Hit: 4/5 | Power: 5/7 | Run: 4/4 | Arm: 6/6 | Field: 4/5 | Overall: 4/6

*Players are graded on a 2-8 scale for both present and future tools. 2-3 is well below average, 4 is below average, 5 is average, 6 is above average and 7-8 is plus.

Prediction – Assuming the Astros don’t take Bryant at number one, which they could, then I think Bryant lands with Colorado.  A word of caution however, if the Astros take Appel the Cubs front office might choose to follow what they have in the past and favor hitting over pitching.  All depends on who they Cubs feel is the best available, I don’t think they take Bryant just because he’s a third baseman.
Cubs Chances – Excellent, odds are Bryant will be there, the Cubs would just have to pull the trigger.Image13

This is where things get interesting in my opinion, here’s why.  Moran profiles as the “Cubs Way” guy, meaning he is a better overall hitter than Bryant, but odds are he won’t reach the power potential that Bryant will.  However, Moran will have professional at bats, do the Cubs trust their scouting and philosophy to take the guy that fits the mold the most?  I’m leaning towards no on that one just because I feel that if they are going to take the best available in their eyes, and they will, that will not be Moran.  Another wrinkle is that Moran is a left-handed hitting third baseman, I already talked about the need at third base, but the need for a solid left-handed hitting third baseman is almost enough to make a team jump, just don’t think the Cubs will.

Via Jonathan Mayo:

Scouting Grades* (present/future): Hit: 5/6 | Power: 4/5 | Run: 3/3 | Arm: 5/5 | Field: 4/5 | Overall: 4/6

*Players are graded on a 2-8 scale for both present and future tools. 2-3 is well below average, 4 is below average, 5 is average, 6 is above average and 7-8 is plus.

Prediction – The Cubs won’t take Moran, and he will go to the Indians at five after Appel, Bryant, and Gray are off the board and the Twins go with Kohl Stewart or Braden Shipley at number four.
Cubs Chances – Great, I don’t think there is any chance the Astros take Moran, if they go bat with the number one pick they will take Bryant, meaning Moran will be there, but so will Gray and Appel, that’s too much to pass up on to take Moran.

In conclusion, there are four viable options for the Cubs to think about, but it all comes down to who the Astros go with.  If the Astros take Appel I think the Cubs will go with Gray.  If the Astros take Gray I think the Cubs will go with Appel.  If the Astros surprise for the second year in a row and take Bryant then the Cubs take Appel.  Bottom line, I don’t think the Cubs pass on one of the college arms that are guaranteed to be there.  Now, if the Cubs feel strongly about their scouting and talent evaluation they could pass on Gray and Appel at number two and take the bat given the chance to take a number of quality arms in the second, third, and fourth rounds because they will be there.


The draft begins on June 6th and runs through June 8th, live coverage begins on MLB Network at 5:00 PM CST with an hour-long preview show with the first round scheduled to start at 6:00 PM CST.  The first 73 picks will be aired on MLB Network and streamed on, that’s the first round, and the supplemental round.  Rounds three through ten will be streamed live on on June 7th beginning at 11:30 AM CST, and rounds eleven through forty will be streamed live on on June 8th beginning at noon CST.


Because of the new collective bargaining agreement teams have to pay attention to how much they can spend over the first ten rounds in the draft.  If you want a full rundown on how the bonus pool works I suggest you take a gander at Carrie Muskat’s article about the draft, she does a fine job of breaking it down.  Bottom line, the Cubs have the second most money to spend on their top ten rounds, that’s nice.

Cubs bonus pool

I hope you enjoyed reading about the Cubs options with the number two pick, and don’t forget to join me for the first round tomorrow as I will be live blogging the first round just like last year.  Can’t wait!

George header