The first round of the 2013 MLB Draft is on June 6th and we haven't written much about it lately. A few days ago in the comments, jtsunami (think it was him) mentioned that he might lean more toward Kris Bryant because of his 80 power. For those not familiar with the scouting scale, players are graded on a 20-80 scale at various skills. An 80 skill is not common. At all.
According to Baseball America, there are 3 players in the 2013 draft who have a tool that ranks at 80.
Evaluators rarely break out the top grade on the 20-80 scouting scale, but I believe there are three tools worthy of an 80 among the top prospects in the 2013 draft. Those three are Oklahoma righthander Jonathan Gray’s fastball, San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant’s power and Maryland high school outfielder Matt McPhearson’s speed.
Baseball America ranks Bryant as the 3rd best draft prospect. He's got ridiculous power.
Bryant’s (No. 3 on our Draft Top 100) power has been apparent for a while. It made him a borderline first-round pick coming out of a Nevada high school in 2010, though his signability scared teams off. We noted in our Preseason All-America coverage that he had the most usable pop in his draft class, but he has found a new level as a junior.
Bryant hit three homers over the weekend, boosting his total to 28, a school record and nine more than any other player in NCAA Division I. He has outhomered 228 of the 296 teams in Division I. His combination of bat speed, strength, pitch recognition, discipline and barrelability give him elite power.
He's now up to 29 home runs.
As far as the draft goes, there are probably 5 or 6 guys who stand out from the rest. Supposedly it's two this year in Gray and Mark Appel, but there can't be much of a difference between numbers 2 and 6 or 7. As long as you take one of those players, you've done well and there's no reason to complain.
I don't know nearly as much about these guys as the Cubs and others teams do. I'm not really qualified to say who, among that group, should go in which spot. When a team like the Cubs takes a Tyler Colvin or Hayden Simpson, well, that's just wrong. Neither player was ranked anywhere near the position in which they were taken. They couldn't have been an equal talent at the time of the draft.
I'm still hoping the Cubs draft Mark Appel. He may not have an 80 tool, but those are rare and I'm not sure it should stop a team from drafting him. He is probably the most polished player in the draft. Some have said he could pitch in the big leagues this season. If the Cubs were to draft him, there'd be no need for that. He'd spend a little time at Mesa and maybe Kane County this season. Next year he'd probably start at High A with the possiblity of a quick promotion to AA where he'd spend much of the rest of the season.
Early in the draft, I usually favor going after position players because they have more value. The provide value offensively and defensively whereas pitchers only provide value on the mound. The antiquated rules in the National League force the pitcher to provide sub-replacement level value while batting.
The Cubs need for lots and lots of pitching isn't making me lean toward Appel. I like that he could provide value quickly, which would mean that there would be less risk in drafting him. The newest CBA caused fewer good players to reach free agency (think Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo extensions). Teams are locking players up early and these good players are reaching free agency at an older age. Because of this, I'm wondering if the risk of the draft prospect hasn't become the most important consideration early in the draft.
I wouldn't want to take Appel over a guy who was clealry a better draft prospect. Estimating risk is difficult enough with amateur players so if your choice is two players of different levels of talent, you should always take the one who is better.
Jonathan Gray's 94-97 mph fastball with heavy sink might have more upside than Appel. Kris Bryant's 80 power might be better than any skill that Appel possesses. Despite this, neither of them are clearly the better prospect. You can make an argument quite easily for any of these players, along with a few others.
This is where I think risk has become more important than ever. Perhaps instead of choosing the guy with the highest upside (probably Bryant), you take a similarly talented player who you think has a better chance of being productive at the MLB level.
Any of these players would instantly make the Cubs farm system better. Gray or Appel would immediately become the organization's top pitching prospect. Bryant would probably fit in nicely right behind Jorge Soler at the top. Any of these would be a good pick and an improvement over what they already have.
So who do you take? You are the Cubs and whatever player you hope they get is still available after the Astros pick. Who is it?
I'm taking Mark Appel. Based on what I've read, I like this chances to be a productive MLB player better than the others.