The Cubs have all but locked up the #2 pick in the 2013 draft, with a two game lead over Colorado and holding the tie-breaker with just three games remaining. However, the Cubs play the woeful Astros to close out the season, while Colorado faces the much-better Diamondbacks. Only time will tell if the Cubs can lose enough to make it, though it won’t be a long wait.
Now would be a good time to look at a few of the top prospects in the draft, though these mocks will change frequently in the absence of a Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg. Also note that with the #2 pick comes the 2nd highest international spending pool.
RHP Mark Appel - Appel was widely predicted to have been the number one pick in last year’s draft. However, he fell all the way to the Pittsburgh Pirates at #8 and did not sign, opting to finish school and re-enter the draft in 2013. Appel is a dominant starter whose, like most draft prospects’, fastball is his go-to pitch as it sits in the mid-to-upper nineties. How he would fit into the Cubs sytem: Appel would rank between #2 and #4, sitting behind Javier Baez and with Jorge Soler and Albert Almora atop the Cubs prospect rankings. Appel would instantly become the Cubs top pitching prospect ahead of Arodys Vizcaino (who, if healthy, would have enough MLB experience that he would no longer count as a prospect anyway).
OF Austin Meadows - The Cubs didn’t shy away from drafting high schoolers in the 2012 draft, taking outfielder Albert Almora 6th overall, so there is no reason to believe that the Cubs wouldn’t give serious consideration to senior outfielder Austin Meadows should he still be available at the time. Meadows has a lot of raw talent, requiring just a little bit of polishing, with five-tool potential. The outfielder drew comparisons to Josh Hamilton and Andre Ethier last year from ESPN’s Matt Remsberg. Heavy praise for a kid in high school. How he would fit into the Cubs system: Meadows would enter an already thick logjam in an outfield of prospects featuring Brett Jackson, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, and Matthew Szczur, but the number one rule of drafting is to draft for talent, not to need, as this isn’t the NBA or NFL where draftees are expected to immediately take over starting jobs in the majors. Meadows would rank behind Baez, but probably ahead of both Soler and Almora in the Cubs system.
RHP Ryne Stanek - Much like Appel last year, Stanek figures to be drafted as a junior out of college, but as a junior, signability issues bring heavy risk to taking this pick. Of course, even if the Cubsdrafted and then failed to sign him, they would receive the #3 overall pick in 2014 plus whatever pick they “earn” through inevitable poor performance on the field. Unlike most pre-draft pitchers, Stanek has already developed three pitches, with his fastball in the lower nineties, but with good movement, a slider, and a changeup. How he would fit into Cubs system: Stanek would instantly become the Cubs top pitching prospect, likely ranking around third in the Cubs system overall, behind Baez, and between Soler and Almora.
One more name - I’ve seen him ranked as high as second or as low as 23rd in mock drafts, but one name that I recommend keeping an eye on as well is catcher Jeremy Martinez. His potential is very high and the Cubs have no legitimate catching prospects in the system, while Welington Castillo projects as a likely backup in the long-term. I’ll have more on Martinez and other names as we head through the offseason and get closer to draft day in June.