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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.
The 2013 amateur draft goes down at 6pm central tomorrow and we'll have wall-to-wall coverage here on MLBTR. Here's a look at the latest news on the eve of the draft..
- Picking at No. 7 hasn't changed much about the Red Sox's draft philosophy as they will still take the best player still left on the board, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. "I've always thought you've got to take the best player," amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye said. "That's the way I've been taught. That's the way we've tried to proceed here in the last 10 years, 15 years. That's the way we'll continue to do it."
- Twins Vice President of Player Personnel Mike Radcliff told Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter) that pitcher Jonathan Gray is "still a player you're considering and have a lot of interest in" despite his positive test for Adderall. After the news broke, ESPN's Keith Law estimated that the news wouldn't harm the Oklahoma product's draft position.
- Radcliff expects to draft at least seven pitchers with the Twins' first ten picks and at least 20 with their top 40 picks, Wolfson tweets.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America looked at graduation rates and the impact that they historically have had on top 100 picks in the draft. Among other observations, Eddy surmises that teams seem more than willing to players who profile as corner players or second basemen prove themselves in college before committing big bucks to them outside of the first round.
Baseball is a generational game, and it should come as no surprise to hear that many of this year's prospects have relatives involved in the sport. Conor Glassey of Baseball America ran down some of the more prominent players who have fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins involved in baseball. Top prospect Colin Moran has major big league ties as his brother is Mariners pitching prospect Brian Moran and his uncles are former outfielder B.J. Surhoff and pitcher Rich Surhoff. Here's more draft linkage…
- The Twins would take Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray if he was available when the club was on the board with the fourth overall pick, two sources tell Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com (Twitter link). It's no surprise the pitching-hungry Twins would take the highly-touted righty, though it would be a mild surprise to see Gray drop to the No. 4 pick, his recent positive test for Adderall notwithstanding.
- Stanford right-hander Mark Appel tops Keith Law's ranking of the top 100 draft prospects. While Law thinks Appel is the best talent in this year's draft, he predicted the Astros would take Moran with the first overall pick in his most recent mock draft (an ESPN Insider subscription required for both pieces).
- Blue Jays amateur scouting director Brian Parker talks to Sportnet's Shi Davidi about the upcoming draft and how the Jays won't have extra compensatory picks for the first time since 2008.
- The most recent collective bargaining agreement hurt the amateur draft, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes, and Griffin believes the system would be improved by a worldwide talent pool draft and allowing picks to be traded.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America spoke with Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith about the Blue Jays' possibilities in the draft. While there's no Bryce Harper-type player to be found in this year's class, Toronto can still snag a "really good player" at No. 10 overall, in Callis' estimation. Kohl Stewart is a guy that could intrigue the Blue Jays, but Callis expects the Twins to snag him at No. 4.
- The Mariners see plenty of promise at the No. 12 pick, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns. "I keep reading and hearing this is a weak Draft and I always stay away from that," M's scouting director Tom McNamara said. "I think it's fine. Where we're picking, we're fine." Catcher Reese McGuire is regarded as a top 12 pick by most experts and is right in the Mariners' backyard, but McNamara is predictably tight-lipped about the club's potential interest in him.
- Callis also checked in with Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com about what we might see the Orioles do. In two of his three mock drafts so far, Callis has the O's taking South Carolina high school catcher Nick Ciuffo and the BA scribe says that he has gotten some A.J. Pierzynski comps.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
9:56pm: Marshall right-hander Aaron Blair also tested positive for Adderall, reports Conor Glassey of Baseball America. Blair ranked as the No. 41 draft prospect, per BA.
Glassey spoke to a pair of front office executives from different teams, and each believed Gray's usage was a one-time mistake that won't be held against him. A source close to Blair told Glassey that his usage was also a one-time instance.
5:18pm: ESPN's Keith Law reports that Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray, projected to be one of the Top 5 picks in Thursday's MLB draft, has tested positive for Adderall — a stimulant which is banned by the Joint Drug Agreement between MLB and the players' union. According to Law, the test will not result in a suspension, and it's not likely to cause him to slip in the draft.
In fact, in a second piece (this one for ESPN Insiders only), Law outlines a scenario in which this test could actually make Gray more appealing to the Astros with the first overall pick. Law writes that Gray's bonus demands will be lower due to the poor result. One source told Law he expects Gray to sign for a "huge" discount. In that scenario, the Astros could likely sign Gray below slot with the first pick and allocate some of the additional funds to later players without risk of exceeding their bonus pool.
Adderall is typically prescribed as a treatment for ADHD, but Gray did not have a prescription for the drug. In Law's first piece, he notes that more than 110 active players were granted exemptions to use the drug in 2012. Carlos Ruiz's 25-game suspension to open the season was the result of using Adderall without a prescription, he adds. Most teams that Law has spoken to thus far aren't overly troubled by Gray's test, though it does bring his judgment into question.
The 2013 amateur draft begins Thursday evening with the first 73 picks, continues Friday with rounds 3-10, and concludes Saturday with rounds 11-40. The Astros have the first selection in the draft and nearly half of MLBTR readers believe Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray will be the one to hear his name called. Earlier today, we learned Gray, Stanford's Mark Appel, San Diego's Kris Bryant, and North Carolina's Colin Moran are the Astros' top possibilities, with high school outfielder Clint Frazier a distant fifth. Let's take a look at today's other draft notes:
- The Cubs have spent most of their recent draft prep discussing their second and third round selections (41st and 75th overall) rather than who to take with the second overall choice, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "We’ve probably discussed No. 2 for about two hours of the four days we’ve been here," said Jason McLeod, the Cubs' senior vice president for scouting and player development. "We’ll get into those guys more this week."
- Those guys are Gray, Appel, Bryant, and Moran, according to Muskat in that same piece.
- McLeod doesn't want the Cubs to pigeonhole themselves into using the second overall pick on need (starting pitching); but, instead are looking for a player "to provide significant impact and hopefully get us to where we want to go on a consistent basis," writes Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald.
- The Brewers are confident they will land a big league talent even though their first pick won't come until the second round at number 54, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I enjoy the challenge," Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid told Haudricout. "You might miss the chance for a so-called impact player in the first round but there will be some (future) big-leaguers in there. We've just got to find them." The Brewers forfeited their first round draft choice (17th overall) when they signed free agent Kyle Lohse.
- Within that same column, Haudricourt blames the Brewers' current woes, as well as a farm system thin on projected impact players, on their failure in the 2008 and 2009 drafts. The Brewers had 11 selections in the first two rounds of those drafts and none of those players have spent a day with the club at the MLB level and the top six picks in the 2008 draft are no longer with the organization.
- Many teams have held pre-Draft workouts to get a better look at the prospects. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy provided an inside look at those workouts from the viewpoint of a former participant, Milwaukee outfielder Logan Schafer, who attended a Brewers' workout in 2008 and was later drafted by the team in the third round that year.
Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray's strong performance in the Big 12 conference tournament increased the likelihood that the Astros will pick him No. 1 overall, ESPN.com's Christopher Crawford writes (Insider-only). Crawford also quotes a scout who says that Indiana State's Sean Manaea — thought to be a top pick before the season — is "not a first-round prospect to me," and suggests Manaea may be best served by not signing and returning to school. Manaea was pulled from a recent start with shoulder tightness. Crawford's piece also contains details about Mark Appel and many of this draft class' top hitters. Here are more notes on the draft.
- Indiana high-schooler Trey Ball tops the list of two-way players available in this year's draft, Baseball America's Jim Callis says. Teams now prefer Ball as a pitcher, and it looks likely he'll be selected in the first 10 picks or so. Another two-way player is Cal State-Fullerton's Michael Lorenzen, who will be drafted as a center fielder, Callis says.
- If the Twins wish to avoid Scott Boras with the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming draft, their best bets are high school pitcher Kohl Stewart or high school catcher Reese McGuire, ESPN1500's Darren Wolfson tweets. Stewart is being advised by Derek Braunecker and McGuire by Matt Sosnick, Wolfson says.
Matt Garza made his second start since being activated from the disabled list, but it didn't go as well as his five shutout innings in his season debut last Tuesday versus the Pirates. Garza, number eight on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, needed 92 pitches (52 for strikes) to cover four innings against the Reds. The right-hander struck out seven but allowed four runs on four hits with four walks (one intentional), one HBP, and a wild pitch. Garza received a no-decision as the Cubs rallied for a 5-4 victory in 10 innings snapping their six-game losing streak. In other North Side news:
- The present for the Cubs has fallen into the abyss and the future is flush with questions, opines Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Sullivan points to no hints ownership will increase payroll and a farm system which remains bereft of pitching talent at the upper levels and that would-be stars such as outfielder Brett Jackson and third baseman Josh Vitters have yet to pan out.
- Within the same piece, Sullivan writes there's no chance manager Dale Sveum will be fired, as team President Theo Epstein believes the coaching staff has done a "fine" job.
- The Cubs will have the second overall selection in the June 6 amateur draft, but Epstein warns not to pin the hopes of the franchise on that player. "There are some promising players on the way, but we have a lot of work to do," Epstein told Sullivan. "The No. 2 pick is a great opportunity, but one player by himself cannot make a system."
- The Cubs are eyeing pitchers Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma and Mark Appel of Stanford and third basemen Kris Bryant of San Diego and Colin Moran of North Carolina with that pick, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Manager Dale Sveum has been watching video of the quartet and provides Muskat with a brief scouting report on each.
- With the Crosstown Classic against the White Sox beginning tomorrow, former South Side manager Ozzie Guillen said recently he would be willing to be a coach for the Cubs. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted Sveum's response, "I don't have no openings on my staff."
Kevin Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft, made his Major League debut for the Orioles last night. In a poll on Wednesday, roughly 39 percent of MLBTR readers agreed that Michael Wacha of the Cardinals would be the next first-round pick from last year's draft to make the leap to the big leagues. There are less than two weeks until the 2013 draft, and we'll keep track of today's draft-related news here…
- The first mock draft from Jim Callis of Baseball America had the Astros taking Mark Appel No. 1 overall, but his newest version has the Astros taking Jonathan Gray. That leaves Appel to go to the Cubs at No. 2, but it's not clear right now who the Cubs would take between the two pitchers if Houston winds up taking a hitter instead.
- Callis views Sean Manaea as a complete wild card in this year's draft (Twitter link). He likens the Indiana State lefty to Lucas Giolito, who the Nationals drafted 16th overall last year. Like Giolito, Manaea was once considered a possible No. 1 overall selection, but injuries have caused his stock to fall and it's highly difficult to predict where he'll land.
- Prep catcher Reese McGuire will have to make a tough choice between attending college and going pro, but he's eager for the draft nonetheless, writes MLB.com's Doug Miller. While McGuire has a great opportunity to play ball at the University of San Diego, he might not be able to resist the pull of the majors if goes as high as he is projected to. MLB.com currently has the catcher going No. 11 to the Mets.
- McGuire isn't the only high school catcher who is drawing interest from clubs at the top of the draft, writes Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Behind him are Jon Denney from Oklahoma and South Carolina's Nick Ciuffo.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo was asked on Twitter where high school outfielder Clint Frazier, whom many expect to go in the Top 10 of the MLB Draft, ranks in comparison to high school talents from previous drafts. Mayo notes that it's hard to ignore hindsight and view players in the same light as he did when they were amateurs, but he ranked Frazier as the eighth-best talent among 36 high school hitters selected in the first round dating back to 2009. Here's more on the draft…
- The Astros have six players on their draft board but Frazier looks to be edging out Austin Meadows, leaving them with Frazier, Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray, Kris Bryant and Colin Moran, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. Bryant and Frazier are seen as dark horses if the team decides Appel and Gray aren't worth the money they're asking. Should Scott Boras and Appel highball the Astros, money will become an issue. Smith notes that it's very close between Appel and Gray, adding that Gray has ties to the Astros and is open to negotiating (All links to Smith's Twitter account).
- Cubs president Theo Epstein, GM Jed Hoyer, top scouting/player development executive Jason McLeod and amateur scouting director Jaron Madison are currently in Oklahoma City to meet with Gray, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Cubs are still expected to take either Gray or Appel at No. 2 overall.
- Bill Kiser of MLB.com profiles prep right-hander Hunter Harvey, whose stock has risen enough that he's considered a likely first-rounder. Harvey is the son of former MLB closer Bryan Harvey, who saved an AL-best 46 saves in 1991 and made two All-Star teams. The younger Harvey has a 0.38 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 54 2/3 high school innings this season. Harvey, whose fastball sits in the mid-90s and has touched 97, also features a solid curveball. Mayo had him going 25th to the Giants in his mock draft, while John Sickels of Minorleagueball.com has him going 30th to the Rangers and ESPN's Keith Law (Insider req'd) has him at No. 24 to the Athletics.
The Astros, Cubs, and Rockies have the first three picks in the 2013 amateur draft, which takes place Thursday, June 6th. Draft gurus expect college righties Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray and college third baseman Kris Bryant to go within those first three picks, though the order seems tough to pin down at this point. The latest on the draft:
- Conor Glassey of Baseball America takes a look at the age spectrum among this year's BA Top 250 by splitting the list into high school and college players and examining the youngest and oldest in each group.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis asked four "top-level scouting executives" whether they preferred Appel or Gray. Three of them chose Appel, though it was interesting to hear that two of them questioned his makeup.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo talked to Nevada righty Braden Shipley, a converted shortstop. ESPN's Keith Law ranks Shipley the No. 6 talent in the draft, and predicted the Marlins will indeed take him in that sixth spot. Baseball America ranks him eighth, and predicted he'd go fifth to the Indians. Mayo went with eighth to the Royals.
- Mayo also writes that Shipley has elevated his stock thanks to consistent performance this season, while Indiana State lefty Sean Manaea and Arkansas right-hander Ryne Stanek have seen their stocks fall. Manaea has been bothered by a hip issue that has led to diminished results, while Stanek has had an up-and-down season as well. A scouting director told Mayo that he thinks Stanek will be the third pitcher selected in the draft. The upcoming conference tournaments will serve as a showcase for these college arms to gain some last-minute draft helium.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.