The Major League Baseball Rule IV Draft will kick off in about 13 hours. What do you need to know before then?
First of all, this could be one of the most volatile drafts in quite a while. Guys could look like potential Top 10 guys and then fall completely out of the first round. It looks like draft slot prices are up a tad, but there could be some high profile holdouts, which may affect where players are picked.
The other thing to watch for is player value. This is a draft rich on arms and light on hitting talent and that could manifest first in seven of the first 10 picks being pitchers. Prep arms, though, are taking a bit of a hit. While Jameson Taillon has maintained his place at the top of the draft heap, guys like Dylan Covey, Stetson Allie and Kevin Gausman have fallen on hard times. They both looked like sure-fire first rounders earlier this spring and now might fall out of it completely. Other players, like Karsten Whitson and Luke Jackson, seem to be shooting up the draft boards.
Nothing is really clear at the moment. I'll get into some of the rumors in a minute but one I want to talk about before the jump is Zack Cox. These two reports have him requesting "Pedro Alvarez money." That would be about 6 million and seemingly prices the Astros out of his league. Their budget, with three first round picks, probably precludes them from going that much over slot for a player. I already had my doubts about Cox before these reports, but couple that with a possible major league contract request, and Cox falls right off it. If Cox does get a MLB contract, that means his arbitration clock starts immediately and he'd have to be added to the big league roster in a matter of years. Since the Astros may not be retooled enough to contend until 2012, it seems like a lot to ask for a sped-up arbitration clock. As for the No. 8 pick, I'll let this Frankie PIliere quote speak for itself:
As it has long been believed, Josh Sale appears to be the Astros man at 8th overall, barring a slide by one of the top two college southpaws. Sale's signability doesn't appear to be a big issue and Houston is not enamored with the remaining pitching options that figure to be available for them. Look for Michael Kvasnicka, Chad Bettis, and possibly Brandon Workman to be options with their later picks.
What are the other rumors circling this draft?
- It's been a foregone conclusion for a couple of months now, but it looks like the Washington Nationals will take Bryce Harper with the first overall pick.
- The Pirates appear to be deciding between The Woodland HS' Jameson Taillon and Florida high school shortstop Manny Machado. If Taillon falls out of this spot, he won't get past Baltimore at No. 3.
- The Royals have already reached an agreement with Miami (FL) catcher Yasmani Grandal, and it looks like it'll be for at least 3 million dollars. Most draft boards had him going in the teens. If he goes at No. 4, that means someone is dropping.
- At No. 5, the Indians appear locked in on Drew Pomeranz. That means Chris Sale, projected to go here in most of the mocks, will fall a bit.
- The D'Backs appear to be deciding between Chris Sale and Barret Loux at No. 6. That's very, very high for Loux, but he's looked good and could help quickly for an Arizona team that needs to contend soon.
- The Mets are a mess and are all over the board with their interest. The latest I've seen has them deciding between Zack Cox and Matt Harvey, but I don't trust anything from this team, since they've been so scattered in the rumor mill.
- Houston got Derek Dietrich, Brett Eibner and Chad Bettis to all sign releases stating that the Astros can redraft them. Apparently, that may be because the Astros have interest in Bettis at No. 33.
- As a savvy commenter noted on Sunday, Keith Law has also reported that the Astros have some interest in high school right-hander Luke Jackson. He is not one of the Top 100 players as ranked by Andy Seiler, but he does fit the bill as a relative unknown who might have had a tremendous workout.
Speaking of our readers, I'd like to point out two bits of goodness. The first was a FanShot I missed this weekend, saying that Ed Wade has a budget for this draft that includes some wiggle room on signings. Here's AstroAndy's excellent rundown:
Another great catch by AstroAndy is this quote he dug up from Ed Wade before the 2008 draft:
Player Profiles (The names that don't have links yet will be profiled later today. So, be looking forward to that.)