The MLB 2013 First-Year Player Draft (technically called the Rule 4 draft) begins Thursday evening at 7 p.m. ET. We will be running a discussion and information-sharing thread throughout the day at Minor League Ball, so stop by and partake. I will be there much of the day leading the discussion.
MAKING A MOCKERY OF MOCKS
The rumor mill is churning like crazy, to the point that previous mock drafts are most likely obsolete.
Most mocks, for good reason, have assumed up until now that the Houston Astros would pick either Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray or Stanford's Mark Appel with the first-overall choice. However, there have been indications that North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran is also in the running. Keep in mind that the Astros didn't decide on Carlos Correa in 2012 until a few moments before the actual draft. The same dynamic may be in play this year, and as we noted last week, the ripple effects will be strong.
The Cubs seem set on a college pitcher at No. 2, but if both Gray and Appel are still the board, who will they pick? Gray's recent positive test for non-prescription Adderoll use is supposedly not a big deal in regards to his draft status, but the data point exists and it might play in somehow.
The Rockies at No. 3 were long-rumored to be focused on San Diego slugger Kris Bryant, but late murmurs have them looking at first baseman Dominic Smith, at least according to a tweet from ESPN's Peter Gammons last night. Smith is a legitimate first-round pick but was seen as fitting more in the middle of the round for most of the spring. However, if he agrees to a pre-draft deal, how far will Bryant fall?
The Twins are supposedly focused on pitching, but could they pass up Bryant's bat? What if Gray (or even Appel) is still on the board?
DISCLAIMERS ARE DONE
With all those disclaimers out of the way, here is one possible scenario mixing rumor, speculation, and what few verifiable facts we have. I won't even go so far as to say this is a prediction; it's more an exploration on how things could play out. Just call this one possible quantum permutation of the multiverse.
1) Astros: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford: In this universe, the Astros come to agreeable terms with a Mark Appel willing to start his career with his hometown team now that he has a Stanford degree under his belt.
2) Cubs: Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma: Lots of gnashing and teeth-grinding in the hours leading up to the draft, but in the end the Cubs go with Gray.
3) Rockies: Dominic Smith, 1B, California HS: A beamquake strikes Draft World, upsetting the balance of expected reality. Smith agrees to a slightly below-slot deal, freeing up cash for the Rockies later in the draft.
4) Twins: Kohl Stewart, RHP, Texas HS: The Twins think about Bryant as a long-term replacement for Justin Morneau, but in the end can't resist the allure of Stewart's arm. The multiverse tries to right itself.
5) Indians: Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego: It is hard to see Bryant falling any further than this.
6) Marlins: Braden Shipley, RHP, Nevada: The Marlins reportedly have a long-standing interest in Shipley.
7) Red Sox: Clint Frazier, OF, Georgia HS: The Red Sox are rumored to be looking at a bat, with Frazier and Austin Meadows at the top of the chart. Moran is still available in this universe and might be a compromise pick.
8) Royals: Phil Bickford, RHP, California HS: Although the big-league team is short on hitting and Moran might be attractive on paper, pitching is said to be Kansas City's focus, with Phil Bickford a better long-term option than Ryne Stanek and his hometown connection.
9) Pirates: Reese McGuire, C, Washington HS: McGuire has been repeatedly linked to the Twins at 4 or the Pirates at 9. In this universe he ends up in Pittsburgh.
10) Blue Jays: Trey Ball, LHP, Indiana HS: I've been slotting Ball to the Jays for a couple of months now and he still fits here.
11) Mets: Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina: The Mets are said to want a college bat. Here's a good one.
12) Mariners: J.P. Crawford, SS, California HS: Positional scarcity helps make Crawford's case.
13) Padres: Austin Meadows, OF, Georgia HS: Hard to see him falling further than this.
14) Pirates: DJ Peterson, 3B, New Mexico: This has been rumored for weeks and is still valid under this scenario.
15) Diamondbacks: Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas: The most logical choice if the Dbacks want a pitcher.
16) Phillies: Ian Clarkin, LHP, California HS: The Phillies like left-handed prep pitchers.
17) White Sox: Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville: He's big and he throws hard, qualities that the White Sox like.
18) Dodgers: Rob Kaminsky, LHP, New Jersey HS: Some scouts consider him the top prep lefty in the draft. I can see him going higher than this.
19) Cardinals: Alex Gonzalez, RHP, Oral Roberts: He's been moving up boards and seems to fit the Cardinals' mold.
20) Tigers: Jonathan Crawford, RHP, Florida: His stock hasn't dropped as much as you might think despite his erratic spring.
21) Rays: Tim Anderson, SS, East Central Mississippi CC: Consensus sees him not getting much further past this.
22) Orioles: Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State: He could easily go 10 slots higher than this.
23) Rangers: Hunter Harvey, RHP, North Carolina HS: Many, many good options here, but I'll have the Rangers go with Harvey's upside and genetics.
24) Athletics: Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State: He will go much earlier than this if his medical reports are OK, and later if they aren't. We'll compromise and put him here.
25) Giants: Matt Krook, LHP, California HS: Somewhat raw but moldable, and local. Seems like a perfect fit.
26) Yankees: Eric Jagielo, 3B, Notre Dame: Lots of mocks put Kaminsky here, but in this universe he's already gone. Jagielo has one of the best bats still available.
27) Reds: Phil Ervin, OF, Samford: If this happens, it could be a huge bargain as Ervin has one of the most complete skillsets around.
28) Cardinals: Devin Williams, RHP, Missouri HS: Matched-set with a polished college arm at 19.
29) Rays: Nick Ciuffo, C, South Carolina HS: Will they have more luck with a high school catcher this time?
30) Rangers: Cody Reed, LHP, Northwest Mississippi CC: Another rumored interest.
31) Braves: Josh Hart, OF, Georgia HS: Loud and hard-to-find tool (speed), check; from Georgia (check); Braves rumored to be after hitting (check).
32) Yankees: Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga
33) Yankees: Billy McKinney, OF, Texas HS: Working with the diversity idea, this gives the Yankees a refined college bat in Jagielo, a refined college arm in Gonzales, and an excellent prep bat in McKinney.
So, that's one possibility. Will our universe be anything like that? We'll know in a few hours.