We now have real movement on the draft boards. Things are starting to get really interesting and exciting when it comes to the top of the draft.
I don't think anyone has damaged their stock more than Ryne Stanek this year. It's unfortunate that his electric stuff that he showed in the Cape Cod has regressed slightly and the results have been pretty poor overall. He's still a first rounder by most accounts but mid to late seems to be a fairly respected guess. Some have even said he could slide to round 2.
Mark Appel was really starting to separate himself from the pack before Stanfords Spring Break laid him up to have a week off and came out rusty last week and wasn't as sharp as his previous two starts. But, I read in an ESPN Insider article that said Appel is still by far the number 1 prospect despite the emergence of Gray.
Speaking of Gray, he has surged up draft boards and has been dominating high end competition. His fastball is even hitting triple digits now on occasion which makes me drool. He has some nice upside but I need to see more from him and his secondaries before saying he's in Appel heels.
Gray is possibly ahead of Manaea at this point as Manaea hasn't been as sharp as he was in the Cape. However, the usual cold weather issues can be applied to him and had the same two week layoff that Appel had but for different reasons as snow covering the field cancelled a series.
To me, there's little question that Gray has put himself above Manaea. Certainly at the top of the discussion.
The old joke is that the best time to play Stanford is after their Spring Training break, and this week was no exception, but Appel still managed 11 strikeouts in 8 innings... sure, he also gave up 8 hits and a walk, but he's going to have those kinds of days.
I don't think Stanek belongs in the second round, and if he finds himself there, it's an absolute steal. The real question, in my mind, is if he's hiding an injury. I just don't understand how else his performance could have fallen off so quickly.
As far as college hitters, there are six guys that really stand out to me: Kris Bryant, Hunter Renfroe, Phillip Ervin, D.J. Peterson, Colin Moran, and Matt Oberste. Oberste is a new name and doesn't belong in the 1-1 conversation, but he's certainly mashing, to the tune of .471/.533/.824. Renfroe may be a new name to some of you, as well. He's a catcher for Mississippi State, mashing at .425/.485/.900. It's come at the expense of the Alcorn States and the Central Arkansas of the world, but a .900 SLG is a .900 SLG.
Bryant, by the way, is one of only two players with a higher SLG -- his is .938.
Jonathan Gray has been flying up boards, and rightfully so. He screams Ace - huge frame, innings-eater, big fastball, solid secondaries. He's a lock to go in the top 10. I'm torn on Gray-Manaea, but currently have Manaea ahead. I think he has a higher upside. That said, neither is in Appel's class yet.
Kris Bryant has solidified himself as a top 10 (probably 5) pick as well. His ridiculous numbers are simply too hard to ignore. The questions come with his defensive position, moving forward. I also think his swing is susceptible to strikeouts down the road.
Stanek is obviously the biggest faller. I agree that's he's still too much of a talent to fall to the second. I don't know what's wrong with him, and I'm glad he won't be an option for the Astros at all.
For what it's worth, when I look at Bryant, I think he can stay at third base. Certainly, that's still not saying a ton for a 1-1 pick, but his bat is really special.
Bryant may even have propelled himself above Meadows on my list, though Frazier still holds the edge as far as bats go.
Appel is not budging from the top spot, but I have this voice in the back of my mind warning me about age relative to competition. I haven't done the research, but does anyone have any thoughts on how well senior pitchers have done coming out of the draft? I have the ghost of Wade Townsend in my ear.
It's a good point. Appel has always had good stuff with underwhelming results. I like to think he finally do figured something out, but you never knew.
Appel was fun to watch. In the 1st couple of innings he's simply warming up and getting a feel for his pitches when he starts mowing through hitters in later innings.
I also want to bring up Hunter Harvey, a right hander from Bandys High School in North Carolina. Scouts are buzzing about him, and there were a lot of guys on hand to watch his last start, where he had a no-hitter through six, then gave up a weak groundball up the middle in the final inning. Of the 20 outs he recorded, 11 were via strikeout, 9 were groundballs, and two were weak fly balls to right.
He sits at 90-92, topping out right now at 93; a good curveball in the 74-76 range that he throws regularly (31 of the 105 pitches he threw in his last start were curves), and a changeup (80-83) that looks like it'll be an average pitch.
He's crawling up draft boards - one of the few intriguing high school arms in the country. Speaking of intriguing high school arms, Gonsalves and Clarkin (both lefties) went against each other this month, with Gonsalves getting the win, striking out 6 in 6 innings, issuing 2 walks and allowing 3 hits. Clarkin struck out 7 through 4.1, allowing 8 hits.
Biggest risers for me: Jon Gray- Fits the bill as an ace in a number of ways. Great frame, high velocity, great results recently. Probably ahead of Manaea right now in my view.
John Denney- I love the prep catcher class this year, and Denney leads the pack. Haven't looked into his defense, but the bat seems more than legit, and if he can stay at catcher his value will explode even more.
Kohl Stewart: We're not going to draft him, but KLaw had a rave review about him a week or two ago. Easily the top prep pitcher in the class and he's distancing himself. Lot of good pitches and velocity, and thats really appealing coming from a high schooler. And he's going to sign, especially if he's picked top 10 (sorry Brooks) Hunter Renfroe: Won't be considered at 1.1, but he's dominating right now in a really good conference. Getting into top 15 range.
Sean Manaea: Still a top 5 pick, but he's fallen out of the #1 spot for me. I still believe, but I feel like his inconsistency that I've heard makes him more of a risk now at 1.1 for us, and not a risk to take considering there's a guy named Mark Appel in this draft.
Ryne Stanek: Well documented already, and not top 5 or even top 10 anymore, but whichever team takes him in the middle of the first is going to feel pretty good about themselves for that kind of value.
Denney is my new man-crush.
Is Kohl Stewart back on the mound? Honestly, I haven't heard anything about him in a while.
Stewart is more likely to sign in the top 10, the problem is I don't think teams risk taking him in the top 10 because of the signing risk (bigger signing risk than McCullers and look how far he dropped) and apparently picks hold a ton of value (per Scott Boras). And, I'm not convinced he's a top 10 talent. I'm not even convinced he's the top prep pitcher. Truthfully, I haven't spent a lot of time figuring that out, but have looked a little bit. I read Law's piece and I'm still not convinced. And yes, he's back on the mound.
Despite me liking Frazier more than Meadows, I think Meadows is winning a lot of scouts back over again. So, I think you almost have to call him a riser. There was a lot of talk of Frazier being better (which I agree) but scouts are loving the projection more in Meadows. They are neck and neck again in terms of top prep prospect.
I'm still on the Bryant train but I don't have much more to add.
Among the high schoolers, I've been a Meadow Muffin from Day One!
I keep hearing Cleveland at 5 is a possibility. The Cleveland scout stayed long after the other 50 had left, talking to SPX coaches.
BTW, my son followed Kohl on the mound at the Houston Christian game. Can you imagine how it must feel to take the mound in the 5th and have 50 scouts get up and leave during your warmups?
Kohl has pitched 3 times now since rehabbing a minor shoulder injury sustained playing football. The last 2 outings, : 7 innings, no hits, no walks, 13 K's. Clocked at 96. He looks better than ever. He's still building his pitch count, but he's throwing all of his pitches now.
That has to be demoralizing. That's noticeable in a major league park, I can't imagine how that looks in a HS park.
To his credit, he threw 3 scoreless after Kohl's 4 scoreless in a game they ending up winning 3-0 in 9 innings. But yeah, I can only imagine what he was thinking.
Cleveland is welcome to him, and I wish them luck. High school arms are just too risky for me in the top five; maybe even in the top ten. That's not to say that he won't become a dazzling starting pitcher in the major leagues. It's just too chancy for me. I'll leave the rest of my Kohl Stewart thoughts at the door, at least until I watch video of him pitching this year.
As far as top prep prospect goes, Meadows seems to be pulling ahead of Frazier on a lot of boards. Less than a week ago, Dan Kirby predicted Meadows would go 1-1. "I am now confident in saying that," he said. Matt Garrioch, in his most recent mock with John Sickels, sent Clint Frazier to Houston at 1-1. As Brooks points out, he didn't give any rationale. But the point remains that these two high school kids are neck-and-neck. We all saw the breakdown of their tools versus one another.
The tie-breaker between the two, for me, is their age relative to their competition. At 18.23 on draft day, Meadows is younger than Frazier (18.88) by a significant amount. I know it seems like I'm obsessing a lot over age - between Meadows/Frazier and Appel/? - but age is important, and it's something we sometimes forget.
For instance - Jonathan Gray is 4-1, 0.71 through his first six starts. He's allowed batters to hit just .168 against him, and he's struck out 51 guys through 44.2 innings, with 9 walks.
Mark Appel, on the other hand, is 3-2, 1.18 through his first five starts. He's thrown 38 innings, striking out 54 batters and walking just 7. He's done it against some pretty robust competition, too.
Appel's numbers are better, of course, but Gray's are comparable enough that we can look at the tools, and we like what we see. Being that he's a year younger (I can't seem to find a DOB for Gray anywhere... anyone?) playing against roughly the same competition.
Being that Gray is a year younger, if he shows that he can pitch like this for an extended amount of time, then I can't help but favor him on my board.
Obviously the Astros agree with you on Stewart! For me, it's still Appel, followed by Frazier/Meadows, followed by Gray. I don't know who is likely to be the better outfielder between Frazier Meadows, everything I read keeps me going back and forth.
Gray's DOB is 11/5/91
Appel DOB is 7/15/91
5 months is not that big of a deal for college picks, IMO. HS holds more weight on age.
Thank you, sir. I'd love to do some more research on the ages of college picks. I agree that HS holds more weight - the farther you are from the majors, the more it matters.
The thing that most people are using to separate Frazier and Meadows is either Meadows projection or Frazier's defense. Law tweeted out the other day that Frazier is a corner outfielder and I don't agree with that. The difference in their speed is negligible and I like Frazier's arm better because of the throwing motion and the quickness of the release.
To me Appel is pretty clearly "the guy," still. I do like Gray but having watched both some this year Appel's overall arsenal is just a lot more impressive to me- I see three plus pitches with how much his change has improved this year. Gray definitely has a better fastball and his command isn't bad at all but his secondaries are a little inconsistent in terms of motion, though when you have a heater that hits 100 they play up a bit.
Obviously I'm incredibly impressed with what Kris Bryant is doing this year, also. He has been the best hitter in the country, as expected and I might consider taking him over one of the HS OF, but I don't think the Astros will be looking at anyone but Appel unless things seriously change.
I've come around a lot on Austin Meadows. When people talked about him as the #1 pick I tried to find what I thought was wrong with him, but I think he's probably firmly in my top 5 for the time being. When I watch him play I can't help but see Jason Heyward. He's also young compared to the other high school prospects this year.
I'm hoping for a good college bat right now, at 2.1. I'll keep praying for Ervin or Renfroe, but I'm still a huge fan of Gregor, who should definitely be available. I'm still intrigued by Aaron Judge, too, even though his swing looks really awkward to me.
For a supposedly-thin draft, there are a lot of really intriguing guys that should be around at 2-1. One of them is Michael Lorenzen, on whom I'm really high. He has ridiculous athleticism and patrols center field masterfully. There's talk of him being a big-armed closer in the big leagues, but it would just be such a waste of that athleticism to confine him to the mound.
Other guys that may be around are Tom Windle and Kevin Ziomek. If either of those college lefties is left at 2-1, it'd be hard to turn them down.
I don't think I'd take Windle before the third round, personally. If somehow they came away with Frazier and Ziomek in the first two rounds though....
This draft definitely has it's issues. 5-15/20 are pretty weak but I think there is loads of depth after that and could even fill out through round 3. The possibility of guys like Ziomek, Ervin, Judge, ect being available in the second is pretty exciting. That's not even factoring in interesting HS guys projected in the 2-5 range and HS guys who fall due to signability.
I too would love Ziomek in the 2nd.