Draft Notes: Gray, Astros, Pirates, Crawford

"Buzz is growing" that the Astros will take Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray (rather than, among others, Stanford pitcher Mark Appel) with the first overall pick in the upcoming draft, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes. Gray was recently named the Most Outstanding Player in the Big 12 tournament, says Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Here are more notes on the draft.

  • Potential choices for the Pirates with the 9th and 14th picks in the draft include high school pitchers Kohl Stewart and Trey Ball, and college hitter D.J. Peterson, write Jason A. Churchill and Chris Crawford of ESPN.com (Insider-only). Many mock drafts have Stewart coming off the board before the Pirates pick at No. 9, but a high-upside arm like Stewart's would surely be tempting if it fell that far. Churchill and Crawford list their potential fits for other NL Central teams as well, so be sure to check that out.
  • The top of this year's draft is thinner at the middle infield positions than in years past, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo writes. "It's about as weak as it's been in recent memory," says a scouting director. "It seems like we might not have one go off in the top 15 picks, which would be unusual. I think that speaks to the weakness of the class." California high school shortstop J.P. Crawford, Carl Crawford's nephew, is likely to be the middle infielder drafted first.
  • The Wall Street Journal's Tim Marchman, meanwhile, asks whether Major League Baseball even ought to have a draft. Marchman suggests that the draft is "inefficient," (by which he means that the top talents are more difficult to identify than they are in, say, the NBA) and also "unjust" (by which he means that players can't just sign where they want). Marchman proposes simply scrapping the draft and making amateur player acquisition an open market, suggesting that would be the best way to "spread the talent around." It's hard to see how such a system would distribute talent evenly, however — lower-payroll teams and teams in northern markets (most draft-eligible players come from the South and Southwest) would likely struggle to attract notable players.

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