In his final installment of his Top 100 Draft Flashback series, Matt Eddy of Baseball America assigned values to each of the top ten picks and gave tiered values to the entire first round. Eddy lumps the together the picks in groups of five and uses WAR to weigh each tier against one another. He also identifies the best players to be plucked out of each group, starting with Alex Rodriguez (1-5), Frank Thomas/Derek Jeter (6-10), and Manny Ramirez (11-15). Here's the latest draft news as we close in on the first pick at 6pm central..
- Keith Law of ESPN.com (via Twitter) hears that the Astros will take Mark Appel No. 1.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter) isn't sure if the Royals have a deal worked out with Phil Bickford but he's certain that some team does. The right-hander's adviser kept him from talking to club executives this week.
- It was reported earlier today that the Royals have reached a deal to take Bickford with the No. 8 pick, but the club is adamant that they have no such agreement, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- There's some buzz around baseball that the Cubs are leaning towards taking Kris Bryant over a pitcher, tweets David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter link) spoke to one scouting director picking early in first round about how he thinks the top of the draft will play out. His guess is that the Astros will take Jonathan Gray, the Cubs will grab Mark Appel at No. 2, and the Rockies will draft Bryant with the third pick.
- Shi Davidi of Sportsnet broke down the Blue Jays' draft strategy and spoke with Matt Smoral about his draft experience last year. The left-hander, who saw his stock drop thanks to a stress fracture in his right foot, assumed he was UNC-bound as he didn't expect any club to meet his $2MM asking price. “Initially, I went, not into panic, but said, ‘Oh crap, I’m going to college,’” the No. 50 pick in last year's draft said. “[The new rules] definitely changed the game but the way I looked at was, I went in there with a number that me and my family and my agent got together, and I was good with going either way." Toronto found room in the budget for Smoral by essentially punting their picks from rounds 4-10, and Davidi surmises that they'll be open to getting creative this year if another opportunity falls into their lap.
- Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter) hears that the Mets will draft the best player available at No. 11, rather than target need.