Like last year, when the Astros took 17-year-old Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa with the top pick, there is no consensus No. 1 overall. The Astros are considering a handful of names, including Stanford pitcher Mark Appel, Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray, Indiana State lefty Sean Manaea and University of San Diego outfielder/third baseman Kris Bryant.
I find this semi-interesting because I don't remember getting this much information last year six-weeks before the draft. I remember hearing Mark Appel being the consensus number one guess for the Astros. I also remember hearing the Astros were scouting eight guys including Carlos Correa . Other than that we were never given "a handful of names" the Astros were interested in so this is a bit of interesting development for an organization that likes to play things close to the vest.
Mark Appel again being at the top isn't surprising considering his dominating season to this point in the season. Jonathan Gray is also not surprising as he's shooting up draft boards around the country. Sean Manaea was at the top of our board to begin the college baseball season but has recently been replaced by Gray. I find Kris Bryant interesting because he's not an up the middle player and that seems to be something the Astros want especially if they want to maximize the value they get with the first pick in the draft.
I have a hard time seeing the Astros taking a pitcher with the first selection of the 2013 MLB Draft but that's because I'm so used to them taking an up the middle player. Since 2008 it's been: catcher, shortstop, centerfield/second base, centerfield, shortstop. I realize that this is only Jeff Luhnow's second year but Carlos Correa wasn't on anyone's radar until right before the draft so I have a hard time buying into either Appel or Gray. Don't get me wrong, the Astros need pitching and their strategy is to take the best player available but it's not as simple as that. Money is more important than ever in the draft and there's still plenty of talent to be scouted between now and the draft.