In a little over a month, spring training begins for Major League Baseball. With this comes the next step in Theo Epstein's plan to build a foundation for sustained success on the North Side. Granted, the Cubs did make a few splashes in the free agent market with the signings of pitchers like Scott Baker, Kyuji Fujikawa and Edwin Jackson, but the North Siders still have a ways to go before they even think about the playoffs. Yes, their pitching has the potential to be much better than it was last season, but there are other players that still need to develop. There are a lot of young guys in the farm system that still need to improve and mature before we talk about playoffs for the Cubs. In addition, not only do Theo and Jed Hoyer need to succeed in the free agent market, they need to be successful in the first year player draft, which takes place this year from June 6th-8th.
I spoke with Conor Glassey from Baseball America about the 2013 draft and he said this is a rather weak draft compared to other classes. There is not a Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg-type of prospect in this draft, but there are some good players who do have some big time potential.
In the draft, the Cubs will have the second overall pick behind only the Houston Astros and it is widely expected that they will look to add pitching with the majority of their selections. Here is a look at the top prospects that should be under consideration come draft day:
1. Mark Appel (RHP) - This is not Appel's first time entering the draft. He was originally drafted by the Tigers out of high school but opted to go to college. Last year, he was drafted 8th overall by the Pirates but he turned down $3.3 million to keep pitching at Stanford. In three years at Stanford, Appel has gone 18-10 with a 3.22 ERA. He has 242 strikeouts compared to 78 walks in 271.1 innings of work. He does not allow home runs, either, surrendering only three in 110 innings last season. Appel has drawn comparisons to Tampa Bay Rays star David Price and at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Glassey describes Appel as a big, physical workhorse. His fastball can reach the upper-90s with solid movement to it and he has a hard mid-80s breaking ball to go with it. His career has been filled with ups and downs at Stanford and these struggles lead to the big question: Why haven't the results matched the package? At times, Appel's fastball tends to straighten out and in order to be a big time pitcher in the majors, his command must improve. He cannot throw around the plate as much as he does and he needs to mix up his pitches. If he can accomplish this, he can easily be an ace for a team. If he doesn't, he will be a No. 3 or 4 at best, according to the scouts that I spoke with.
Analyzing potential Cubs draft picks
CSN Chicago | Jan 31