Gray, Appel. Gray, Appel. Gray, Appel. Bryant. Who will it be? The MLB Draft will take place on June 6, and it is one that Cubs fans will be paying attention to more than ever. The Astros have the No. 1 pick, and it is very unclear as to who they will choose as well, as there is no clear standout among the bunch. Three names drawing the most attention are Mark Appel, a starting pitcher from Stanford, Jonathan Gray, also a starting pitcher, from Oklahoma, and Kris Bryant, a powerful third baseman from the University of San Diego. All three have drawn interest from the Cubs, especially Gray and Appel.
A late bloomer, Jonathan Gray has surged up the draft boards recently and finds himself in great position to be among the first three picks in the draft. Gray is an imposing 6’4″ 240 lb starting pitcher whose fastball has been graded as an 80 by Baseball America, the highest possible grade. According to Jim Callis of Baseball America, Gray’s fastball has “plenty of velocity, a late sink, and best of all, he can command it.” Gray is a big time strikeout pitcher and wouldn’t take a long time to make the major leagues, assuming there are no hitches in his development.
The other pitcher the Cubs are chasing after is Stanford right-hander Mark Appel. Appel was selected 9th overall by the Pirates last season, but failed to sign. Many thought he would go first overall, and with the Astros owning that pick again, it would be interesting to see if they pass on him. Appel is not as powerful as Gray, but has a very high ceiling and, like Gray, is close to being MLB ready.
A third baseman, Kris Bryant, may also be in the Cubs plans. Bryant’s power is what puts him in consideration for both the #1 and #2 overall pick. He has hit 30 home runs this season, far and away the most of any player in the NCAA. He also has a .338 batting average, impressive even for the college level. While the Cubs have a clear need for pitching in their system, Bryant is a can’t miss hitting prospect and will be a tough player for any team to pass on.
While Bryant is not a pitcher, he may be the most intriguing option for the Cubs both in the first round and in later rounds. His impact in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th rounds, etc. is that if Bryant is selected by the Cubs 2nd overall, the Cubs could take a bevy of pitchers in the following rounds. This is similar to last season, when the Cubs selected Center Fielder Albert Almora in the first round, and then followed that pick with the likes of Duane Underwood, Anthony Prieto, Ryan McNeil, and Tayler Scott, all of whom are pitchers.
The pick the Cubs make heavily depends on who Houston takes No. 1 overall. Houston is said to be favoring Appel, in which case the Cubs would select Gray. If they decide to take Gray first overall, then Appel would be the Cubs selection. If Houston takes Bryant or another position player, then the Cubs would more than likely select Appel, who they seem to like more than Gray. There is also an off chance that they take Bryant over a pitcher because of his astonishing power potential. I am thinking that Houston selects Appel first overall, and the Cubs happily take Gray second. The Cubs could follow this up with a lot more pitchers in the first half of the draft, or could go with a mixture of both. It is unlikely that they will pick more position players than pitchers in the first 10 rounds.
Keep it here for all of the latest draft news concerning the Cubs as the June 6 draft inches closer and closer.