We are approaching the June 6 Rule 4 draft, when the Astros pick No. 11 overall in the first round. What's happening at the top? Which players are slipping?
- The first overall pick is still not decided. The past two seasons, that hasn't been the case, as the Washington Nationals honed in on Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper long before now. It appeared that would be the same case this season, with Rice's Anthony Rendon being the unquestioned best player in this draft. Now, though, the Pirates pick is still up in the air. They could go with Rendon. They could go with UCLA's Gerritt Cole. They could shake things up and take Oklahoma prepster Dylan Bundy. If I had to bet, from all the reports I've seen, I'd have to say Cole is the choice, but I wouldn't be surprised by Rendon.
- Speaking of Bundy, he's been rumored to be asking for twice what Strasburg got in 2009. That's 30 million to sign and a major league contract. Other reports put his figures around 6 to 7 million and I'm sure that changes based on where he gets picked.
- Rendon still hasn't played in the field, being limited to the designated hitter role with a shoulder injury that has hampered him all season. It hasn't hampered him at the plate, as Rendon has still hit very well, despite getting walked like crazy and these new bats that limit the effect aluminum bats used to have. I wonder, though, if all these questions about Rendon's health are teams nitpicking too much. He's had three serious injuries (if you can call this shoulder problem serious), but it strikes me that Rendon and Rice head coach Wayne Graham may just be slow playing this. Maybe Rendon doesn't want to go to Seattle or Pittsburgh, so he's been playing up the shoulder all season to drop a bit in the draft.
- I still don't see a situation where Rendon falls all the way to No. 11, but it could happen. One of the mock drafts I looked at this week showed the effects of Rendon not going No. 1. With the Arizona Diamondbacks looking locked in on Virginia's Danny Hulzen, Rendon could fall all the way to fourth and maybe further. I don't realistically see him getting past Kansas City at No. 5, but stranger things have happened. Would the D'Backs pass on him twice in the top 10?
- A new name surfaced linked to the Astros draft. It wasn't because of anything said by Bobby Heck or the Astros scouts. It was just because of how the draft shook out but Florida prep shortstop Francisco Lindor was listed at No. 11 to Houston. Lindor is a Jiovanni Mier clone, a high school shortstop who looks to stick at the position but who has questions about his bat. Still, the only way Lindor would get past the Cubs at No. 9 is if both Lindor and Kansas standout Bubba Starling are both available. I still don't know if the Cubs choose Starling in that situation, but it's possible.
- Texas right-hander Taylor Jungmann is certainly doing everything he can performance-wise to justify a selection at the top of this draft. Teams haven't really played up Jungmann yet in the Top 10, and with the depth of this draft, he's a guy who could have gone in the Top 5 in years past but might slide past the Astros in this quality pool of players. Jungmann ran his national-best win total to 13 in the Big 12 tournament this week, and he hasn't yet been credited with a loss. If Houston went with him at No. 11 overall, it would make sense for the fan base and give them a player who could fly through the system.
- There aren't a ton of high-profile Houston-area prospects this season. The Woodlands right-hander Bryan Brickhouse probably leads the pack and may go in the supplemental first round. Don't sleep, though, on Lufkin right-hander Gandy Stubblefield. He was more impressive than Klein Collins junior Cory Geisler in Lufkin's bidistrict victory and helped the Panthers get three rounds deep before bowing out to Klein Oak. Stubblefield was listed as the No. 26 prospect in Texas, according to Baseball America.