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Kris Bryant Rumors
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.
We're one day away from the 2013 amateur draft. MLBTR will be providing live updates as the first and supplemental rounds progress, and we'll also host a draft chat for those who wish to participate. Here's the latest with just over 24 hours until things kick off…
- Mark Appel gambled on himself by refusing to sign with the Pirates, and it looks like it's about to pay off, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman adds that there's been extra suggestion of late that the Astros could select Appel first overall this time around. Appel will surely seek "at least" the $7.79MM slot value with the first overall pick, writes Heyman.
- Meanwhile Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle writes that Appel's signability is still an issue for the Astros. General manager Jeff Luhnow told Ortiz that the Astros will set their own number (in terms of what they'd like to pay), and in some cases they'll be willing to go over or under that number. Luhnow adds: "That's what we did last year, and it worked out great because we were able to maximize what we got for our total pool of resources. We'll use that same strategy this year."
- In an Insider-only piece, former Nationals GM and ESPN columnist Jim Bowden opines that the Astros should select San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant first overall. He writes that most of the best No. 1 overall picks ever — including Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., Darryl Strawberry and Joe Mauer — are position players. He feels that Bryant, whom he calls the closest to Major League ready of any player in the draft, minimizes Houston's risk.
- Stan Grossfield of the Boston Globe writes that Manny Ramirez's son, Manny Ramirez Jr., is expected to be drafted out of high school in the middle rounds of the draft. Ramirez Jr. has tremendous work ethic, according to his high school baseball instructors. A Red Sox executive told Grossfield that while Ramirez Jr. has power, Boston isn't likely to draft him. Likewise, Orioles GM Dan Duquette told Grossfield he doesn't know much about Ramirez Jr. The younger Ramirez says he learned quite a bit from interacting with his father's teammates and coaches, including David Ortiz, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Don Mattingly.
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.
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."
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 new draft slotting system essentially allows teams to "trade down" with themselves, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Cameron uses the Astros' selection of Carlos Correa last year as an example, stating that by saving money on the No. 1 overall pick and re-investing their draft pool later on Lance McCullers Jr. and Rio Ruiz, the team employed the same philosophy that NFL and NBA teams do when they trade down: increase the quantity of good talent rather than focus on one elite player. Cameron adds that such a tactic is highly risky, as the No. 1 overall slot has produced significantly more value (in terms of WAR) than even the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the draft, historically speaking. He does concede that in years without a consensus No. 1 talent, the strategy can make a lot of sense. Here are Wednesday's draft-related tidbits…
- The Marlins are likely to focus on college players early on, specifically position players, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Spencer writes that the Fish will likely select San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant or UNC third baseman Colin Moran if either is available at No. 6. If both are gone, they could shift to Nevada right-hander Braden Shipley and target a bat later on.
- The Rockies are also eyeing Kris Bryant at the No. 3 spot, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Bryant, regarded as the most powerful bat in the draft, has been popping up in rumors more and more as the draft nears. Some feel he has No. 1 overall potential.
- After focusing heavily on high school pitching in last year's draft, the Padres are likely to focus on bats, assistant GM of player personnel Chad MacDonald tells Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Particularly, the Friars will be looking for middle infield help.
- MacDonald has scouted prep right-hander Kohl Stewart, and the Padres are enamored with his "electric" talent, but he's very unlikely to be on the board by the No. 13 selection. "He's the best high school arm in the country," said MacDonald.
Some draft-related links to peruse for your Monday evenings…
- San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant is a "once in a career" player to coach both in terms of his talent and his humility, coach Rich Hill tells AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. Cassavell chronicles Bryant's journey from Little League to San Diego, noting that he's a high school rival of Bryce Harper. Bryant, who will be advised by Scott Boras, is a projected Top 10 pick with some thinking he could even go No. 1 overall to the Astros.
- Count Baseball America's Aaron Fitt among those who feel that Bryant should be taken first overall. Fitt tweets that while he's a fan of both Jonathan Gray and Mark Appel, Bryant is a "special" power bat.
- Oral Roberts right-hander Alex Gonzalez's stock is going nowhere but up, and it's doing so quickly according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. Gonzalez has a "nasty fastball-slider combination with excellent command." Mayo writes that some think he can be a "Mariano Rivera-like reliever," while others believe he has the repertoire to start.
- From that same piece, Mayo writes that Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea repaired some of the damage to his draft stock with a solid performance this past weekend. Manaea has battled hip injuries this Spring. Right-handers Ryne Stanek (Arkansas) and Chris Anderson (Jacksonville) also turned in solid performances that helped re-establish some of their falling stock.
- There are six new players in Mayo's Top 100, including prep pitchers Kyle Serrano and Chandler Eden, prep catcher Dom Nunez, prep outfielder Jordan Paroubeck, college shortstop Hunter Dozier and college outfielder Jared King. Serrano and Dozier have leapt all the way into Mayo's Top 50.
In a recent two-part series for 1500 ESPN, Phil Mackey profiled Twins top prospect Byron Buxton and noted that Buxton's path to the Majors could be on a more accelerated timetable than most people think. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Buxton has obliterated Class-A Cedar Rapids similarly to Mike Trout, who played there two years ago when Cedar Rapids was an Angels affiliate. Buxton is hitting .368/.485/.632 with five homers and 13 steals in 29 games for the Kernels. Mackey adds that the Twins, who typically move prospects slowly, have been aggressive in the past with the likes of Joe Mauer, David Ortiz and Matt Garza. Chris Parmelee and Aaron Hicks are two current Twins who skipped Triple-A. In addition to that group, Oswaldo Arcia received only 10 games at Triple-A this season before being called up at the age of 21. Here's more on the Twins from Mackey's colleague, Darren Wolfson…
- Wolfson talked with Twins VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff about the upcoming draft, and Radcliff conceded that they're down to about four players they're eyeing with the No. 4 overall pick. Radcliff added that the Twins are likely to draft at a position of need, but that they still need to take the best player available at that position. That seemingly clashes with yesterday's report that they may cut a deal with prep catcher Reese McGuire and spend more heavily later in the draft.
- It's no surprise that two of the four players on the Twins list are Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray, although as the favorites to go No. 1 and No. 2 overall, neither college right-hander may be there.
- The Twins have had eight scouts evaluate Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier, and there's a 50/50 split amongst those scouts on which is the better prospect.
- Radcliff says the Twins aren't worried about dealing with Scott Boras if they select one of his advisees: "…he tells us what the deal is. We'll know (what it'll take to sign the player)."
- Radcliff praised San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant's versatility and power and also noted that Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea's injury battles this Spring "has to be a factor." Both have been considered Top 5 talents, though Manaea's stock has fallen, as Radcliff noted.
- When Wolfson mentioned comparisons between Buxton and B.J. Upton, Radcliff replied that he feels Buxton will be "a way better hitter" than Upton and added: "Upton is a nice player, a plus defender. … But Buxton has a swing that will allow him to hit for average. It's the fastest, quickest, most direct swing you'll see."
- Top prospect Kyle Gibson seems close to Major League ready following Tommy John surgery in late 2011, but Radcliff said Gibson is not quite ready to join the Major League rotation yet. Gibson, whose last start was an eight-strikeout shutout, is still a bit "uneven," according to Radcliff.
Agent Scott Boras is likely to advise top prospect Kris Bryant as the 2013 draft approaches, according to Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (on Twitter). With right-hander Mark Appel and left-hander Sean Manaea also in tow, Boras has three clients likely to come off of the board within the first ten picks.
All three are said to be in the mix for the Astros' No. 1 pick along with Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray and Georgia high school outfielders Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows. However, the Georgia products might be at a disadvantage as Houston is said to be leaning more towards college players.
Bryant, a third baseman/outfielder out of the University of San Diego, currently leads the nation in homers and has turned heads with his power. Manaea has impressed scouts as well, but a hip issue has caused trouble for him as of late. Appel, meanwhile, is entering the draft yet again after being unable to reach agreement with the Pirates, who nabbed him with the No. 8 pick last year.
ESPN's Buster Olney relays (via Twitter) a stat from the Elias Sports Bureau, noting that the Astros have received just 15 1/3 innings from their starters over the past six games — tied for fewest in a six game span in the past 35 years. Offseason acquisition Brad Peacock will look to turn that trend around tonight when he faces a struggling Mariners offense. Here's more on the Astros in their first year in the American League…
- General manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters, including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, that the team's bullpen can't take much more of the past week's trends: "We can't take too many more hits before we have to go out and make some moves."
- Luhnow has no plans to trade Bud Norris anytime soon, reports McTaggart. Luhnow told McTaggart that Norris is a "critical part of the team" and noted that the constant rumors are unfortunate for all parties involved. Norris hasn't been on the trading block for quite some time, according to Luhnow.
- Luhnow also said that Erik Bedard is basically "going through the finishing touches of Spring Training" (Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle reporting via Sulia). The Astros have limited Bedard to four innings per appearance thus far, which has contributed to the aforementioned 15 1/3 innings stat.
- McTaggart reports that the Astros have sent Roger Clemens out to scout potential No. 1 overall draft picks (Twitter link). The Astros seem to be focused on college players, as McTaggart goes on to list right-hander Mark Appel (Stanford), right-hander Jonathan Gray (Oklahoma), left-hander Sean Manaea (Indiana State) and third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant (San Diego) as players of interest.