In less than a month, Bud Selig will announce the future of the Houston Astros. Depending on what name he utters on June 6, you're going to hear a lot of reaction around the Internet.
Much of that reaction will be right here. It will be effusive, or angry, or disappointed. It will be something. Consider this article a dry run at that reaction, or consider it a way to keep us honest, so that when we start trumpeting how this is such a great (or lousy) choice, or how it's what we thought all along, or whatever... you can point back to this article and say "ORLY?"
Now, that's not to say that our reactions won't change between now and draft day, but I talked to some of the TCB staffers to get their "gut reactions" for when that pick is announced.
Imagine... the lights dim... Also sprach Zarathustra rises in the background... Bud Selig clears his throat... and announces that the new cornerstone of the Houston Astros' franchise is...
... Mark Appel, right-handed pitcher, Stanford University.
Illinibob: That's probably the right pick.
Timothy De Block: Yay! When Appel wins against a Boston team we can use the headline, "How Bout Them Appels?"
CRPerry13: I'm not surprised, I'm not disappointed, and I hope negotiations don't hold the Astros up from signing anybody else until August. At least there's finally a universally-regarded top notch pitching prospect in the system.
Anthony Boyer: The best player available, in my opinion. Great ToR talent with signability issues, but I'm confident that we can get a deal done and see Appel on the mound in Houston by 2015.
jsams: *golf clap* He's the guy I've wanted since the draft process began. With all due respect to Jonathan Gray, Mark Appel is the best player in this draft. I expect to see him in Houston very soon. Now let's just get him signed for a reasonable amount and not let him hi-jack the rest of the draft.
kyuss94: There's no pitcher with a better balance of heat, offspeed stuff, command and mechanics in this draft, and Appel has true ace potential. Plus, as a tiny added bonus, he's a Houston area guy. Appel could pitch in the majors in September if the Astros wanted him to, and barring any Boras shenanigans, he should prove to be an excellent selection.
leistomania409: Unsurprised yet relieved. Best player on the board and one of the safest too. His questions about being able to reach his upside due to his lack of dominance sometimes and college and workload won't make me overjoyed here, but he's the guy I want to see.
Subber10: Great pick! He's the highest player on my board and instantly adds to the loads of talent in the system. He has a higher floor than anyone in the draft except for maybe Kris Bryant so could be considered a safe pick. But, he also has one of the highest ceilings as a top line starter. I'm very excited for him to be added to the system.
...Kris Bryant, third baseman, University of San Diego.
Timothy De Block: Expect a weekly Kris Bryant article by Chris
CRPerry13: Other than Mark Appel, this is the only pick that makes sense to me. Best hitter in the draft? Check. High chance of making the majors? Check. High chance of skills translating to those of a good major leaguer? Check. Hard-to-fill position? Check. Concerns of moving off of 3B are overblown. Impact bat at any position.
Kyuss94: Luhnow has some balls picking Bryant, but I kind of like this pick even if I hate missing out on Appel and Gray. Bryant can crack the majors in 2014 and hit in the middle of the Astros' order. Plus, 3B is the weakest position in the organization currently.
Illinibob: Interesting. If he can stay at third and be a premium hitter, I'm ok with it.
Anthony Boyer: Easily the best college power bat in the draft, with power to spare. This is one of three guys I feel really comfortable with at 1-1, though I'm not sure he'll be able to make consistent-enough contact at the big league level.
Subber10: Safest prospect in the draft. He'll make decent contact and he has massive power. His bat will be ready soon but he it might as a corner outfielder instead. He has the arm for RF so that might work out nicely. Buying the bat to be special, which it can be in the power department.
Jsams: Don't like it. Bryant's a fine prospect, and should have gone in the top 5, but he doesn't have the same upside as Appel or Gray, or even one of the HS guys. I'm concerned with his position and striking out at the ML level. This is a mistake.
Leistomania409: Bryant has been a huge riser in the last month. I would be very, very excited with this pick, as his bat can play anywhere and very soon. The bat is so good that I'm not concerned about his defense. That's what we have the DH for! Bryant wouldn't be a need-pick but he just may end up being the most productive major leaguer- in this draft.
...Clint Frazier, outfielder, Loganville High School, Loganville, Georgia.
Anthony Boyer: Love love love love love love love this pick. Terrific bat, and I think he can stay in center. A little more development than some of the other names, but a guy I really like a whole lot. This is a gutsy pick and I absolutely love it. I would've taken Appel, I'm not going to lie, but I always would have regretted not taking him. Instantly takes the place of my J.R. Towles ginger mancrush.
Kyuss94: No doubt a gutsy pick, but assuming they save a bit of money on him, I think it's a worthy gamble. Frazier has vicious bat speed, and the potential for plus hit and power tools. He is probably only a 30% shot to stick in center field long term, but his bat could play anywhere- I have a lot of faith in him, and think he's easily one of the five best players in this draft, even if he's not the #1 talent.
CRPerry13: Risky, but understandable. I would have preferred a college player, but there's a good argument here. I wonder where they think he'll play though, given the glut of toolsy outfielder prospects in the minor leagues.
Illinibob: Man I really think we need to take a pitcher with the 1-1
Jsams: Wow. Frazier's the best high school prospect, but I don't see the same superstar upside that you normally see from a high schooler taken number one. That said, he's an extremely fun guy to root for. I'll talk myself into this pic in about 3 seconds, but I bet passing on Appel and Gray come back to haunt this team. Hopefully he signs for waaaaaaayyyy under slot.
Leistomania409: Nervous though a little excited. I liked Frazier at 1.1 earlier this year, and though he's dropped out of the serious conversation if he goes 1.1 Luhnow obviously sees his ability to reach his huge upside. I think he's safer than Meadows, but at a little less upside.
Subber10: Solid pick! Not the highest ceiling but a better floor than most HS picks. He brings some exciting tools with his bat, arm, and speed. He may be a LFer but I think he can a RF or CFer. Probably a safer pick.
Timothy De Block: New favorite Astros prospect Twitter account to follow.
[I have absolutely no idea why he would become Tim's new favorite Astros prospect Twitter account to follow. That just seems weird. - Ed.]
Jonathan Gray, right-handed pitcher, University of Oklahoma.
Leistomania409: I would honestly be pretty disappointed in this pick. Appel is still better than Gray for 1.1, and I'm starting to like Bryant more as a fallback option. I'm confident that Gray can become a good major league pitcher, but I would rather have one of Appel and Bryant.
Subber10: I can see why people like him, but I don't. Great fastball and slider combination. But, I just don't think he's frontline starter without a better changeup. I think he's a middle of the rotation starter and over-rated. Welcome to the organization, but I think the Astros could have gotten a better player.
Anthony Boyer: We just bought a fastball and not a lot else. I don't think he's the best player available at this pick, and I think it's sort of a reactionary 1-1... his 80 "Not Mark Appel" is throwing off his OFP. Do we really think he's going to be a better pro pitcher? I don't.
CRPerry13: I wouldn't be excited. What I read about him doesn't scream, "ace". He's got the velocity, and he's got the.....velocity. I'd rather have a more complete package.
Jsams: Not a surprise. I still think Appel is the better pitcher, but if Gray signs for significantly less, this is a great pick. As much as I like Appel, Gray might have a higher upside. Who doesn't love a workhorse who throws 100 gas on the reg. Sign me up.
Kyuss94: Nice. Sure, I like Mark Appel a little bit more, but I think there's about a 60-40 split on who prefers who out of the two. Gray brings the heat and is average or better in all other areas, and should make it to Houston no later than 2015, and he'll probably take a little strain off the bonus pool compared to Appel.
Timothy De Block :Oh great now I get to watch as everyone makes the exact same analysis on this pick: Good pick, Astros are saving money for the later rounds. I wouldn't have a problem with the pick, just tired of hearing about being about the money and not the best player available.
Illinibob: I'm perfectly fine with this.
Of course, the General Manager of the Houston Astros is a man named Jeff Luhnow, and Jeff Luhnow can be called a lot of things, but one thing it would be difficult to call him is "conventional." So one has to plan for a bit of a curveball. So, then, how would we react if he went with a name a little less-expected? Well, I'm glad you asked...
...Sean Manaea, left-handed pitcher, Indiana State University.
Leistomania409: This would clearly be a bad pick at 1.1, even if Manaea's velocity returns. There are just too many question marks for me from him, among them playing in a mid-major conference.
Subber10: This pick is risky. Very Risky. He's shown frontline starter stuff in the cape, but it hasn't been there at all this season. They must see something that will bring him back around. There's a ton of risk.
CRPerry13: I'd be disappointed. The Astros passed on Appel, Gray, and a handful of other decent college pitchers who had a good showing for a couple months in an exhibition league, but has otherwise done nothing but prove that he doesn't deserve the hype. No thanks.
Jsams: If this were six months ago, I could understand, but Manaea hasn't been the same pitcher since the Cape. Way too many question marks to pass on Appel and Gray for Manaea. He better sign for like one million dollars.
Anthony Boyer: Interesting. It's a gutsy pick, I'll give them that. It could look genius in ten years, but I get a little queasy thinking about watching him develop.
Kyuss94: I'm not happy, but I'm not outraged. Manaea has flashed dominance on the level of Appel and Gray before, but he's a little Frankensteiny with his big thick frame and lacking athleticism. His mechanics and command wobble, but he does have two pitches that flash plus to plus-plus in his fastball and slider. I'm really nervous about this pick, but I'm not about to call for Luhnow's head.
Illinibob: See Frazier.
Timothy De Block: MMMMM Mayonnaise...
...John Paul Crawford, shortstop, Lakewood High School, Lakewood, California.
Jsams: Shoot me now. I don't like Crawford at all, especially at number one. Please tell me this isn't true.
Kyuss94: Yuck. If you'd be okay with the Astros drafting Mark Appel and then dealing him for Alcides Escobar (at best), then maybe you'll like this pick. Otherwise, you're like me, and you're very, very upset.
Illinibob: Way too early
Leistomania409: If we take a high schooler, he would be my third choice behind Frazier and Meadows, and that's a good thing. He plays a premium position and if his bat develops he could wind up as one of the better players in this draft. It would be risky, but I wouldn't be too disappointing if Crawford went here.
Subber10: This scouting department falls in love with tools more than we thought. He has very exciting tools but man he has a very low ceiling. There are a lot of better prospects available. I'll go ahead and say it. Overdraft
Anthony Boyer: I gotta tell you, I've seen this kid quite a few times over the years and I don't see 1st-overall when I watch him. But I like him a lot, and teams are best built up the middle, right? So I'm cautiously optimistic, because clearly the Astros scouting department sees something there and this pick isn't based off of any pressure from draftniks.
CRPerry13: Crawford is one of those guys that has an argument to go anywhere from first to twentieth. It'd be such an out-there pick though, I'd almost be comforted that the Astros would really have to have the goods on him. Maybe they know something I don't. I wouldn't be excited about this pick, but I wouldn't be bummed either. It would be a very interesting pick.
...Austin Meadows, outfielder, Grayson High School, Grayson, Georgia.
Kyuss94: Meadows was a frontrunner for 1.1 early on, and he's a top 10 talent, but I just think that he's a tad overrated from a tools perspective. I'm pretty damn upset that he's going first overall. He's not even the best outfielder in his town.
Leistomania409: Meadows, who was in the 1.1 conversation last year and the start of this year, might have the highest upside in the draft. That being said I simply prefer the college guys ahead of him, as I believe there's a lot of bust potential here. I wouldn't be too disappointed in this pick, but he's not in my top three here.
Jsams: Austin Meadows is a level below Frazier in my book. This pick is defendable; however. Don't see Star potential, but multiple time All-Star sure. Lots of risk though.
Subber10: I've come around on his ceiling but he's still so risky. Plenty of tools to fall in love with but man there is a lot of risk here. Will he hit enough in the pros? Exciting to follow but I'm worried if he ever contributes.
CRPerry13: A bit of a disappointment, but at least there's a lot to dream on.
Anthony Boyer: I was disappointed by his inability to hit the inside pitch at the NHSI, but every prospect needs to make adjustments, and I think he can do it. Between him and Frazier, he's down on my board a little bit, but this is a solid pick nonetheless.
Timothy De Block: Sweet! This was who I was secretly hoping for. His name is pretty.
...Ryne Stanek, right-handed pitcher, University of Arkansas.
CRPerry13: Maybe even more inexplicable than Manaea. Taking any college pitcher who isn't Mark Appel doesn't add up.
Timothy De Block: He's got a major league name
Illinibob: I wonder if he's hurt.....
Anthony Boyer: Really? I mean... REALLY!?
Jsams: Tell me I didn't just hear that.
Kyuss94: Apparently Jeff Luhnow is using the preseason draft guide. Stanek has upside and really got on track as the year went on, but he doesn't dominate to the level of his fastball/slider combo and was a fringe top 10 guy on my board. There's no reason to take Stanek if you're looking for a college pitcher, there's no case for him as better than the third best in this class.
Leistomania409: Stanek's stock has taken a huge tumble for good reason, so this would be a terrible pick at 1.1. Some team that takes him in the top 20 will be very happy however, because his stuff is top 10 worthy.
Subber10: They bought into a ceiling. I don't think he reaches the ceiling. He's had some troubles this year and hasn't been what we all expected. Risky selection.
...Rob Kaminsky, left-handed pitcher, St. Joseph of Montvale, New Jersey.
CRPerry13: Don't make me scream and throw my remote at the TV. A High School pitcher? With the first pick in the draft? In a system that has a complete dearth of pitching? I would be very angry if the Astros opted for a HS Pitcher, given their historical rate of even making the majors, much less becoming a star. Boo.
Illinibob: Wow! They've got the best HS pitcher right here in their back yard and they're gonna go Kaminsky? Really?
Anthony Boyer: My favorite high school arm in the draft, but at 1-1? This is a real longshot, and I can't say I'm thrilled with it.
Kyuss94: Umm... what? Don't get me wrong I really, really like Rob Kaminsky. He's a lefty, he makes up for his stature with a high release point, and he has a present plus curveball. I think Robbie K can end up being a #2 starter if he develops the finer points of his craft, but unless he signs for a something like $2.5 million, there's very little that I can do to justify this selection.
Leistomania409: Kaminsky is one of the better high school pitchers in the draft and has a lot of projection. However, it would be a clear money-saving pick at 1.1. Even so, there are better players with more upside and talent we could save money on, so I would not be happy with Kaminsky.
Subber10: Luhnow wants MOAR lefties! He's intriguing but there's not enough there to want him over SEVERAL other prospects. I don't like this pick at 1.1. I'd like to have him in the system, but I want others a lot more.
...Kohl Stewart, right-handed pitcher, St. Pius X High School, Texas.
CRPerry13: Hometown guys. That's all he's got going for him. I'm not going for a High School pitcher, ever. I don't care if his name is Cy Young, the risk is just too high.
Anthony Boyer: I guess this probably keeps him out of college, right?
Jsams: HOLY S**T. I did not expect this. The conspiracy theorist in my loves this pick. Kohl wants to play football, so give him a modest offer, let him decline, sign the rest of your class, and draft Carlos Rodon/Trea Turner next year. Genius move, Luhnow!
Kyuss94: No question Stewart has the upside to make the Astros look good, but just... why? There are near-finished products with just as much pure upside on the board in the form of Appel and Gray. I just don't get it.
Subber10: He has a great ceiling at a great risk. There's injury risk. There's a significant signing risk. There's significant risk with his development. So much risk. I would rather have several others, but if everything breaks right, the return will be great.
Leistomania409: Stewart is one of the guys with who I would be somewhat pleased with at 1.1. A high school pitcher has never been taken here, so it would be uncharted territory and the risk is huge. However he could have the highest upside of any pitcher in the draft, and his selection here would probably earn him enough money to sign him away from Aggieland.
Illinibob: YEAH! Hometown boy takes hometown discount. Most upside of any pitcher in the draft. Love the cojones...
...Reese McGuire, catcher, Kentwood High School, Washington.
CRPerry13: I don't care if he's the second coming of Johnny Bench, drafting a catcher at 1-1, especially a High School catcher, is just like tossing the pick into the wind over a cliff and hoping it magically comes back.
Leistomania409: Would not like this pick at all. We already have catching depth, and he would be a huge reach when there are guys with much more upside available. I like him a lot as a prospect but not in the top 5.
Kyuss94: I'm dumbfounded. McGuire has great athleticism, a future plus arm and a solid catcher's frame, but he's no safe bet to hit. Austin Hedges was a better defender coming out of high school and couldn't crack round one, and I'm not sure McGuire's bat is more than one notch better than Hedges's was at this stage. There's no justifying this pick. I'm disgusted.
Jsams: Huge surprise. Mcguire is arguably the best catching prospect, but this is a bad pick. HS Catchers carry a high amount of risk as it is. I don't understand.
Illinibob: Too early
Anthony Boyer: ...interesting. This feels like a clear overdraft to me, and I can't help but feel like we're chasing savings at this point. High school catchers take so long to develop, and generally don't stick at the position, even though his defense is really solid behind the plate.
Timothy De Block: Whenever I see his name for some reason I think of Resse Witherspoon. "YOU'RE ABOUT TO FIND OUT WHO I AM!"
Subber10: Interesting pick. Kind of a head scratcher. He has the tools to stay at catcher and be a good defender there, but there's a lot of questions about his bat. He has some power potential but there's a ton of projection to get there. This is questionable and very risky.
There's always a chance that things could get really crazy. With the flood of resources being added daily to the scouting department, the Astros have arguably the best information on every single prospect in the draft, and there's a very good chance that they know something we don't know.
Strike that. There's a definite chance that they know a lot of things we don't know. So what happens if they go completely whackadoodle? What happens if it's someone like one of these guys?
...Tim Anderson, shortstop, East Central Community College.
Timothy De Block: Best first name of the draft.
Subber10: This guy is an exciting display of tools. I don't think he should be drafted this highly, but he's at least exciting because of blazing speed and nice swing. He's raw and just a Sophomore, so there might be something there.
Anthony Boyer: Look, I'm not gonna lie. This caught me completely offguard, but the guy happens to be awesome, and potentially a superstar. This is one where I'd trust Luhnow enough to be pretty surprised, actually.
Kyuss94: Well, I'll say this- I think Tim Anderson will be the best shortstop named Tim to go first overall.
Illinibob: Uh What?????
Leistomania409: Anderson is one of the fastest risers in the draft, though I prefer Crawford over him at short. He may move from there however, decreasing his value. The bat is good but the upside isn't there to warrant consideration at 1.1, so I would not be for this.
Jsams: Something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. Chris Rivera might as well be the pick (not that bad, but still).
...Hunter Renfroe, catcher, Mississippi State University.
CRPerry13: No on catchers at 1-1. There should be a sign on the draft room wall.
Anthony Boyer: Really not a fan of this pick. A fine player, but not a 1-1 guy. Clearly, Luhnow is chasing the savings here. Yuck.
Kyuss94: The only explanation is that the Astros think Renfroe is going to stick at catcher, and they're absurdly high on his offensive upside. I think that Renfroe can be a borderline regular at an outfield corner, but he's a late-first rounder in my book. I'm floored.
Leistomania409: I wouldn't like Renfroe at 1.1, though he's a very interesting prospect. He could have the most present power in the draft behind Bryant, and he can play a couple of positions. However, he wasn't productive his first two years at MSU so he would be of better value outside the top 10.
Subber10: It's too soon for Renfroe but I won't be too disappointed. Good floor and I'll bet he provides good value at the ML level, but I don't think he provides the most out of this class. Way too safe of a pick in my opinion.
...Jonathan Denney, catcher, Yukon High School, Oklahoma.
CRPerry13: See my notes on McGuire. The odds of High School batters doing anything in the majors are very low. The odds of catchers are even worse. He'd be an interesting pick at around 1-10. But not at 1-1.
Timothy De Block: Ugh, didn't he free fall down people's draft board?
Illinbob: With the 2-1 sure
Anthony Boyer: Oy. I love Denney. Everyone knows I love Denney. He slips down draft boards but I'm SO confident in him. I just really wish he had gone somewhere else. Real overdraft here.
Jsams: A huge over-draft for sure, but I love his bat so much, I will talk myself into this pick by the end of the night. Clearly, there were better options.
Kyuss94: Wow. This is the feeling I had after the Astros snagged Correa. I've always, always coveted Denney, I love everything about his profile, but I never in a million years thought that the Astros would have the stones to pull the trigger on him. I think he's a legit 1.1 player and has the potential to be the best hitter in this class.
Leistomania409: Denney has had a weird drop on some recent mock drafts, but I still believe he has a great amount of upside. That being said, I would be disappointed with this pick.
Subber10: Nice bat that will be a nice add to the system, but will he stay at catcher? I don't know. The bat will play else where but it will lower his ceiling a bit. I'm not sold on him.
...Austin Kubitza, right-handed pitcher, Rice University.
Timothy De Block: Who?
leistomania409: No offense intended to Kubitza, who is a fine college pitcher, but I would probably turn in my fan card if we made this pick. That's not a knock solely on Kubitza, who will be available at 2.1 and maybe 3.1, and has a lot more value there anyway.
Illinbob: Again, with the 2-1 or 3-1, maybe.
kyuss94: I'd suggest that somebody give Kubitza Brian Bullington's phone number in the coming days, because he can probably fill him in on how the next several years are going to go. Shoot me.
Subber10: Great numbers this year and a good story with him being from Rice. But, is he really worth 1.1. I don't think so. WHY?!?!?!
Anthony Boyer: Want to have some fun? Look at Rice pitchers' MLB careers. If you can't find them in Baseball Reference, check the disabled list, or James Andrews' office. Guess Phillip Humber wasn't enough of a cautionary tale? In Luhnow we trust? I guess...