High school and college baseball is underway and that means it's time to check in with the writers of TCB. After two weeks, two players have started to separate themselves from the pack: Sean Manaea and Mark Appel. Here's what our writers had to say about the upcoming draft, and in particular Manaea and Appel.
It's been about a month since our last draft discussion, with college and high school games started who has moved up or down for you as a potential first selection for the Astros in the 2013 MLB Draft?
Jordan (AKA jsams):
A few weeks into the college season, it's become a two-man race for me, between Mark Appel and Sean Manaea.
I liken the Appel/Manaea debate to a lesser version of Luck/RG3. Like Luck, Appel is a known commodity without much to prove. And Manaea, like RG3, is the sexier prospect, who burst onto the scene recently, with more overall upside.
As much as I like Manaea, I have Appel as my guy, by the slightest of margins. I like his combination of stuff, make-up and overall safeness.
Brooks (AKA Subber10):
Manaea has had a good outing and a sub-par outing. Overall, the stuff has looked for him though and he still is at the top of my board. Appel is definitely in the thick of things by showing he can pitch deep into games with efficiency and maintain his stuff. I like the RG3/Luck comparison. Appel is polished and knows the game. He pitches within himself and knows the ins and outs of his craft. Manaea is a bit of a wild card with great stuff to make anyone think twice about stepping into the batters box.
The interesting development so far for me is that Ryne Stanek is already falling down boards.
Glenn (AKA wgr56):
Nothing has really changed for me. In the debate of Manea vs. Appel, both are great pitchers, but I still like Manea because I think he's more likely to sign and sign quickly. I still think Appel and his agent are entirely capable of hijacking our entire draft with protracted negotiations.
I know there have also been discussions about "handedness," and that it shouldn't be a criteria for selecting one player over another. Mostly I agree with that philosophy, but in this case, I think Manea being a left-handed power pitcher makes him a bit more desirable.
I also think the Luck/RG3 comparison is a good one.
Chris (AKA CRPerry13):
the Luck/RG3 comparison might seem a bit of a stretch to TCB readers. Appel vs. Stanek isn't quite on the level of, say, Strasburg vs. Price. My opinion anyway, but nobody is super-excited about Appel OR Manea. They're just the best of what's available.
It IS a bit of a stretch, but I still think it works because both are pitchers, just like Luck/RG3 are quarterbacks. Of course the MLB Draft will probably never be as sexy as the NFL Draft, but I think the comparison could work, and perhaps especially for a Texas team because I think Texas is and will always have a football-first mentality.
It wasn't my idea, so I'll let Jordan champion it, but I like the idea as a way to introduce the next discussion. The longer/deeper you got into it, the holes in the comparison would become more exposed, but as an introductory device, I think it works, especially if it's keyed on just Appel vs. Manea.
It's obviously a much lesser version, because RG3/Luck were both sure-fire studs, and the best prospects in decades, but there are still parallels.
I just threw it out there to give casual observers a better idea of the comparison, and I think it does a decent job of that.
Spencer (AKA kyuss94):
I to think it's almost definitely going to be a college pitcher, however I think the two top dogs are Manaea and Stanek. For some reason I just really think that Appel is going to not have the greatest year- I don't see him improving his stock from last year, anyway, and the Astros passed on him then.
A big issue with Appel for me is how hard Stanford has worked him. He routinely threw 130-150 pitches for them last year, and if that continues this year he's going to have accumulated a ton of mileage before he even gets to the minor leagues.
Appel is almost certainly going to have a rougher 2013 than 2012, at least statistically. Going back for his senior year was a definite gamble, and it's one that it's going to be very hard for him to win.
The more I see of Manaea, the more impressed I am. Even when he's struggling, he continues to challenge hitters, and his delivery just looks a lot more consistent to me this year.
I'm flattening out on the non-pitchers. Bryant, Frazier, Meadows... I'm just becoming less excited about them the farther we progress, even with Frazier's outstanding opener. Maybe my interest will pick up as we move into summer, but right now I'm just not quite there.
I love Clint Frazier, and I think if any team would take him at 1.1 it's an analytics-driven front office like Houston, but I think his size could be an obstacle in going first overall. I don't care about height when a guy has tools like Frazier- while a guy that height has never gone first overall, guys that height have been superstars. I just prefer college picks with all things being equal, and I think pitching is a bigger need, and these things need to be considered.
Bad news for Austin Wilson - http://sbb.scout.com/2/1269332.html
So it sounds like as of now it is Appel and Manaea at the top of the draft. Is there anyone else that has raised or lowered their stock in the first two weeks of college and high school baseball?
Dillon Overton from Oklahoma is opening some eyes but he's not close to a 1.1 discussion. Mississippi States Hunter Renfroe and Virginia Tech's Tyler Horan are both off to good starts to the season, but like Overton, aren't 1.1 caliber.
The 1.1 discussion right now comes down to Appel and Manaea. There are certainly some other guys who are doing well, but who aren't in that discussion.
Trevor Williams (Arizona State) had a terrific outing at Tennessee in which he struck out 8 through 7 innings. This is particularly good because the knock on Williams is that he doesn't miss many bats, so 10.29 K/9 is only going to help him. He doesn't have top of the rotation potential, so he'll never enter the 1.1 discussion, but he may actually be my favorite college pitcher in this draft. He could be pitching in the bigs by 2015.
That's good to hear from Overton.
I think Clint Frazier has had a nice start to the season, but high school performances are really tough to evaluate.
As far as early fallers, Stanek and Wilson are the only two who stick out, thus far.
Sean (AKA Native_Astro):
I don't think that the Boras thing is as big of a deal as it used to be. Manaea is likely to be represented by Boras. I don't think that there is a clear cut guy for 1.1 this year. If it stays that way, look for the Astros to use the same blueprint as last year.
I wouldn't be surprised to see them do something like...
1.1 Sean Manea 5 million
2.2 Cavan Biggio (Over Slot) <<< Slides to Virginia commitment and sign ability
3.3 Jeremy Martinez (Over Slot) <<< Slides to USC commitment and sign ability
I'm not sure it will happen this way, but I expect them to get creative like last year without a clear 1.1.
I don't think that Appel is out of the equation along with Meadows and Frazier.
My dark horse for 1.1? Trey Williams!
I believe is he's eligible after transferring to a Jr. College.
Exactly right about [Trey Williams] eligibility. I'm trying to get to a JC of the Canyons game to see him in person.
Although I - and almost everyone, I think - am on the college pitching bandwagon, I wouldn't be surprised if it did end up being a high school PP at 1.1.
Meadows, Frazier, Jan Hernandez. Even Oscar Mercado could rise quickly.
No Thank you to Cavan Biggio at 2.1
And that ladies and gentlemen is how you resign from your position as a TCB writer.
Don't hate on me for wanting what's best for the organization. And by that I mean a second round talent or a first round talent that drops...instead of a third round talent who happens to be related to one of the greatest Astros of all time.
There are a ton of great prep catchers around this year, and I'm all for giving one a shot. Denney is my favorite, followed by McGuire, then Okey and Martinez in that order, but all have excellent traits.
I think Appel is still kind of #1 by default in a lot of peoples' eyes. I think Manaea is our frontrunner right now, followed by Clint Frazier.
I would agree with Manaea. I'm worried about Appel's college workload, and while he will almost certainly be a fine major league pitcher, he doesn't have Manaea's ceiling, and it's Manaea's ceiling that I keep finding myself drawn to.
Between Appel and Manaea who would be cheaper to sign?
The easy answer is Manaea, since Appel is a Boras client. However, I don't think the answer is nearly as clear cut as that. We have no clue who Manaea is going to be represented by and I wouldn't be surprised if Boras is doing what he can to "advise" him. The fact that Appel is a senior also muddles the situation a lot as this is the second draft in the new CBA and we have no idea how that affects his bonus. This isn't the old CBA where Boras clients get what they want.
I also think Appel, being a senior, has more incentive to sign. He may not do it cheaply, but it would seem as if his back is against the wall a bit. I don't really see a scenario where either of these guys becomes the Correa of 2013. That guy may yet emerge.
Tough to answer. Manaea has the leverage of being a junior, but Appel has Boras, and a history of being a tough sign.
When the time comes, I honestly believe Appel would be the easier sign, because he's a senior, which limits his leverage a bit. His stock will also inevitably decline this season, warranted or not. And Boras has said publicly that he enjoys negotiating with Luhnow. Remember, LMJ and Ruiz were both Boras guys.
If Appel isn't taken by the Astros could we see a similar drop as last year in the draft (selected eighth by the Pirates)?
I could certainly see Appel falling again. His senior year can only hurt his stock, along with the signing issues he had last year.
It's only putting more innings on his arm. Statistically it will be hard for him to top his 2012 season. None of us knows what happened with Pittsburgh last year, so I'm not ready to question his sign-ability. But those questions exist and they could really hurt him come June.
Given his willingness to pitch to contact, he seems all in on Stanford, which could help explain his return. I could paint him as the ultimate team-first guy who came back to compete for a national championship. If true, Wilson's injury is doubly unfortunate.
To me, that seems to be a forced narrative, no offense. If he had gotten the money Boras advised him that he 'deserved', he would be playing for the Pirates right now. I think he made it pretty clear by his reaction to the 2012 draft that going back to Stanford was nothing more than leverage to earn a higher bonus.
Let me be clear: I'm not saying I blame him for that, although I'm sure Pirates fans feel differently. If he is being advised that he can earn more money in the long run by delaying another year, he's being individually smart.
I personally think that Appel is pretty far down on the Astros' list of players they'd prefer to draft at 1.1, just based on the questions about his upside (some still think he's no more than a #3 starter in the majors) and the way he and his adviser handled the 2012 draft.
It's absolutely a forced narrative. But you have to question how much leverage he could reasonably have expected to gain by going back for his senior year.
This is no dumb kid. He's a top prospect from a good family who pitches for Stanford. Maybe it was politics as usual for Boras, but given the constraints of the new CBA, it would be uncharacteristic for that office to misread the market in that way.
Just to be clear: A good season won't do much to improve Appel's standing this year. Nothing short of a stellar season, injury-free, with jaw-dropping numbers would have raised him high enough for anyone to consider going over slot, with the penalties inherent therein.
That's a good point. I guess the only thing I would add is, the Astros passed on him in 2012. Why would they take him in 2013?
I'm 100% with you there. It's hard to imagine he will find himself at the top of our board barring a significant dropoff among his competitors.
Word was that the Astros offered him a contract, but he rejected the figure and they moved on. There still could be interest from the Astros.
I still think he has a legitimate chance at 1.1. I still think he has a high ceiling harm ad would love to see someone like Roger Clemens tinker with his mechanics/approach.
In all honesty, the money issue when it comes to Appel seems like the easy target. Appel also made it very clear from the beginning that returning to Stanford was a realistic outcome. And, that was before numbers were even spoken.
With that said, did money play a factor in him returning to Stanford? I'm sure it did. But, if signability dropped him down and thats no longer a concern, he can go higher. If he goes higher, he can still take less than slot and still receive more money than what the Pirates offered him. Sounds like a fairly legitimate plan that he and Boras constructed.
There's a simple explanation as to why the Astros didn't take him. They liked Correa more. I know I did. Even if they viewed him on the same level as Correa, and they both gave the same number and Correa bit and Appel didn't, there's your answer. That scenario is if the rumor of offering a number to Appel is true.
Oh Draft discussion! I love this banter /discussion.
Everyone is going to have a different read on certain prospects.
I remember in 2011, I loved Matt Barnes and Jose Fernandez, and wasn't really high on Francisco Lindor.
Holy crap was I wrong about Lindor.
In filling out my board, all I could think was that this draft is WEAK for everything but high school hitters and college pitchers. College hitting, in particular, is very weak this year in regards to top end talent. I like guys like Phil Ervin and D.J. Peterson as much as the next guy, and I still love me some Kris Bryant, but even compared to last season it's a rough class, and that makes me sad because I love college hitters.
As we discussed on Twitter last night (Feb 26), it thins out pretty quickly after the top 3, then finds its groove again somewhere in the teens. I almost wish we were drafting lower this year; the chance to "win" at the #1 position looks razor-thin this year. That's not to say that there might not be some changes over the next few months, but it's a pretty uninspiring field at the top.
Given the glut of starters Lunhow just acquired and the good arms in the lower minors, I'm starting to think that despite our feelings about Manaea and/or Appel, the Astros will go after another huge-upside High School hitter who is not currently "on the radar."
I'm thinking a guy like Frazier or Meadows look likely, or perhaps a surprise like J.P. Crawford.
Rules for MLB Draft1. Never draft for need.2. You never have enough high end pitching prospects
3. Draft Best Player Available...Period!
Agree with Brooks. Luhnow's draft history and the ML pitching depth should have nothing to do with this year's first pick. I don't think Luhnow will a) draft a player based on position, or b) draft a player they don't believe has the talent to be 1.1, just to save money.