Posted: Thu May 30, 2013 10:59AM; Updated: Thu May 30, 2013 4:28PM

Mock Draft: Bryant, Gray, Appel still in running for top pick

By Dave Perkin, Special to SI.com

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Kris Bryant
The Astros are trying to decide if Kris Bryant is the type of once-in-a-generation talent no team can pass up.
Lenny Ignelzi/AP

In 2004, a hard-throwing college righthander was in consideration for the No. 1 overall pick, held by the San Diego Padres. The pitcher clearly had talent but the Padres were leery of taking him 1-1, as some of their scouting reports attested. Among the now-infamous nuggets from that report were the following: "can't get anybody out"; "needs more strikes"; and "throws many pitches but not quality."

The Padres passed on that young fireballer and instead chose local high school shortstop Matt Bush. Bush is now in prison, having never reached the major leagues. The pitcher, who went No. 2 overall to the Detroit Tigers, is Justin Verlander, who has gone on to become a Cy Young and MVP award winner.

That is just one of the more famous examples of the inexact science that is the Major League Baseball draft. Even the most emphatic opinions before a draft can be rendered ridiculous years later. As stock pickers, weathermen and scouting directors know all too well, the business of making predictions may be the toughest around.

This year, there are three candidates in play for the No. 1 pick, which is owned by the Houston Astros: Mark Appel, the ace of the Stanford Cardinal, University of San Diego slugger Kris Bryant and Oklahoma righty Jonathan Gray, possessor of one of college baseball's best fastballs.

The 2013 MLB draft is one week from today, and that trio is bunched so closely together that it may take this weekend's games in the NCAA Tournament to separate them.

In Los Angeles, Bryant and the Torreros will be in action; in Blacksburg, Va., the Sooners' Gray will take the stage for a final audition. All ballots are in and tabulated for Appel, whose Stanford team did not make the tournament. With a field of contenders this close, and with a decision this important, final impressions could hold a lot of sway.

With all this in mind, here is SI.com's second MLB Mock Draft for 2013:

 
1
Kris Bryant
3B/1B University of San Diego
R/R6-5225
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 3

Indications are that the Astros are now leaning toward Bryant, who hit 31 home runs for San Diego this year, which ties for the 16th-highest total in college baseball history. If Bryant goes off in this weekend's regional, which is expected to be attended by some of the top members of Houston's organization, he will make the Astros' decision for them. That floundering franchise simply can't afford to pass up any player who might become a once-in-a-generation talent and of the three top candidates, only Bryant fits that description.
 
2
Jonathan Gray
RHP Oklahoma
R/R6-4239
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 1

Cubs president Theo Epstein is certain he will get a top-notch player in this draft, he just isn't sure who it will be. If Houston goes for Bryant, Epstein will be left with either Gray or Appel -- a classic "win-win" scenario. Gray is a close-to-the-majors pitcher who throws in the upper 90s and projects as a staff ace.
 
3
Mark Appel
RHP Stanford
R/R6-5215
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 2

The Rockies have been focused on Bryant this spring and will almost certainly snap him up if he is available. If not, Appel is a more than satisfactory fallback option. Colorado is sensitive to industry whisperings that it can't develop pitchers and has revamped its instructional staff to include a new organizational pitching guru in Mark Wiley, a longtime pitching coach in the majors who would be tasked with helping Appel get to Denver quickly and safely.
 
4
Clint Frazier
OF Loganville High (Ga.)
R/R6-1190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 4

The Twins, who are known for slow and deliberate player development, have assembled a quality core of young players, and Frazier would only add to it. He is the best all-around position player in this draft, and boasts electric five-tool ability that will help him add to Minnesota's strong foundation.
 
5
Austin Meadows
OF Grayson High (Ga.)
L/L6-3200
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 8

The Indians get scant national publicity for their draft picks but they have made crafty selections and player personnel moves recently to emerge as early season contenders. Adding Meadows would give the Tribe a wonderfully talented multi-tool outfielder with top-third-of-the-order hitting potential.
 
6
Kohl Stewart
RHP St. Pius X High (Texas)
R/R6-3190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 5

Every ballclub has a "plan"; that is, an organizational blueprint. Miami's must have gotten caught in an office shredder, because its recent moves have been baffling. The Marlins' rebuilding process will be long and slow but Stewart, the premier high school righthander in the nation, may be a good place to start.
 
7
Colin Moran
3B North Carolina
L/R6-3215
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 7

Gossip has Moran as a candidate for the first pick, which is where his uncle, fellow Tar Heel and longtime major leaguer B.J. Surhoff was chosen in 1985. It's highly unlikely that Moran goes that high. He is a mature, close-to-the-majors hitter but does not possess a "wow" factor tool as do Bryant, Gray, Frazier or Appel. Moran's lefthanded swing would fit very comfortably at Fenway Park.
 
8
Trey Ball
LHP New Castle High (Ind.)
L/L6-6180
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 16

Ball profiles as a Cole Hamels-type starting pitcher and is a fine hitter and speedy runner to boot. The Royals have misfired on a few recent early pitching picks such as Colt Griffin and Luke Hochevar but could hit the bullseye with Ball, who has huge upside thanks mostly to the natural movement on his pitches.
 
9
Reese McGuire
C Kentwood High (Wash.)
L/R6-1190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 6

Delighted that their 20 year losing streak may be coming to an end this season, the Pirates are almost equally ecstatic to add two early picks in this year's draft. The first could be McGuire, whose defense is ahead of his offense but who has the ability to be an All-Star catcher and the foundation of a long-term winner.
 
10
Braden Shipley
RHP Nevada
R/R6-3190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 15

Sources indicate Toronto will opt for pitching; its options are numerous. Shipley was a tad inconsistent this year but may get the nod due to his live arm and outstanding athletic ability.
 
11
DJ Peterson
1B/3B New Mexico
R/R6-1205
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 12

A mature college hitter with impressive power, Peterson should easily handle a transition to first base. The Mets are starved for a productive bat, and with Ike Davis struggling mightily, that is a position that figures to be there for the taking in a few years.
 
12
Rowdy Tellez
1B Elk Grove High (Calif.)
L/L6-5240
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: NR

Tellez projects more as a middle-of-the-second-round talent, but he has the kind of power-hitting ability that the Mariners are thirsty for. If Bryant, Moran and Peterson are all off the board, rumor has it Seattle may reach for Tellez. He is considered highly signable, though he isn't likely to go in the first round if the Mariners pass on him here.
 
13
J.P. Crawford
SS Lakewood High (Calif.)
L/R6-2180
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 31

The college ranks are thin on shortstops, which helped Crawford, a high school player and one of the few true talents at that position, vault way up our board. He has speed, a good arm and plays good defense, and he's skilled enough offensively to potentially be a top-of-the-order hitter someday. Lithe and wiry, Crawford is one of the most versatile and athletic prospects in this draft.
 
14
Ryne Stanek
RHP Arkansas
R/R6-4190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 10

The Pirates are salivating over the young pitching talent they have in their minor league pipeline. Stanek, who has improved his command and throws hard, could add to a future starting staff comprised of top prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.
 
15
Dominic Smith
1B Serra High (Calif.)
L/L6-0195
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 17

Smith could provide the Diamondbacks with several desirable qualities: a high batting average, middle-of-the-order bat and Gold Glove-level defense at first base. The Snakes have been following Smith closely this spring, and he'll be eager to sign with whoever takes him.
 
16
Tim Anderson
SS East Central CC (Mississippi)
R/R6-1170
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 33

This spot may be high for Anderson, who was the last pick of our initial Mock Draft, but with Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley getting older, the Phillies will need a speedy, athletic middle infielder with pop in his bat. Anderson fits the description perfectly, and he has been moving up draft boards all spring.
 
17
Nick Ciuffo
C Lexington High (S.C.)
L/R6-1200
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 20

For whatever reason, this year's draft is chock full of quality high school catchers. Ciuffo, a smooth lefthanded hitter, has the tools to provide a long-term solution behind the dish for the White Sox.
 
18
Ian Clarkin
LHP Madison High (Calif.)
L/L6-2190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 13

The Dodgers' free-agent signings may have been shaky in recent years, but their drafts, under the oversight of Logan White, have been quality. Clarkin, a southern California kid, is a quality lefthander with a wicked curveball.
 
19
Phil Bickford
RHP Oaks Christian High (Calif.)
R/R6-4185
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 26

The 19th pick has been good to the Cardinals in recent years. In 2009, they took Shelby Miller, currently the NL Rookie of the Year frontrunner, and in 2012, they drafted Michael Wacha, who was just called up to the majors. With the 19th pick yet again, St. Louis may want to grab another righthanded pitcher, this time Bickford, who throws 93 mph and has a vicious curveball.
 
20
Jon Denney
C Yukon High (Okla.)
R/R6-2205
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 11

The Tigers' desire is to become more athletic, but outfielders and middle infielders fitting that description figure to be scarce at this point. Detroit has recently favored catchers, and Denney will be the best option.
 
21
Marco Gonzalez
LHP Gonzaga
L/L6-1195
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 29

With his excellent four-pitch mix and mound savvy, Gonzales is a perfect fit for the Rays, who are admired throughout baseball for the quality of their pitching development process.
 
22
Michael Lorenzen
OF Cal-State Fullerton
R/R6-3200
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 21

Blessed with speed and a tremendous arm, Lorenzen has nearly all the tools to one day flank Adam Jones in the Baltimore outfield. His bat has always been a question mark but this season Lorenzen has shown improvement in that area. He's also a versatile defender and has good speed.
 
23
Phillip Ervin
OF Samford
R/R5-10205
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 18

The Rangers boast one of the best player acquisition and development systems in baseball and they favor premium athletes. Ervin fits the Texas profile with his quickness and terrific bat speed.
 
24
Andrew Thurman
RHP UC-Irvine
R/R6-3205
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 24

Thurman has a multi-pitch arsenal, clean mechanics and pinpoint control. Oakland's pitchers are fun to watch; they combine smarts with beautifully simple, efficient and compact delivery mechanics, all hallmarks of Thurman's.
 
25
Chris Anderson
RHP Jacksonville
R/R6-4225
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 19

The defending World Series champions were thought to have a rotation that would be in place for years, but the struggles of Tim Lincecum and, this year at least, Matt Cain, are proof that you can never have enough pitching in your system. Anderson has power stuff, is relatively close to reaching the majors and turned plenty of heads this spring with his progress.
 
26
Sean Manaea
LHP Indiana State
R/L6-5235
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 9

Mentioned early in the spring as a 1-1 candidate, injuries (to his left hip and left shoulder) and a decrease in velocity from what he showed in the Cape Code League last summer have hampered Manaea this season. If healthy, the Bombers could steal him at this spot. Manaea still possesses a fastball in the 90s and a sharp curve.
 
27
Aaron Judge
OF Fresno State
R/R6-7255
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 27

The Reds prefer tools-laden players and Judge has received comparisons to one of the ultimate tools players: Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. To meet that lofty standard, Judge will have to prove he can hit advanced pitching with a wood bat. That may take a while but the payoff could be enormous.
 
28
Eric Jagielo
3B Notre Dame
L/R6-3215
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: NR

Using a blend of observational scouting and precise sabermetric analytics, the Cardinals have drafted brilliantly in recent years. Jagielo is a perfect fit for the Redbirds philosophy; he flashes tools and has a good ability to get on base and still hit for power, causing him to move into our Mock Draft this time around.
 
29
Billy McKinney
OF Plano West Senior High (Texas)
L/L6-2195
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 30

As a high school outfield prospect, McKinney is a distinct notch below Frazier and Meadows but he still displays outstanding all-around skills. Tampa Bay loves versatile players and McKinney fits that mold.
 
30
Hunter Harvey
RHP Bandys High (N.C.)
R/R6-3175
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 23

If the Rangers select a position player with the 23rd pick, they could opt for a pitcher here. Their best choice may be Harvey, who has a terrific arm and a boatload of upside.
 
31
Hunter Renfroe
OF Mississippi State
R/R6-1216
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 14

The Braves love big guys with big tools, and Renfroe fits both criteria. Strong and athletic, Renfroe has a howitzer arm, good speed for a big man and exciting power potential. A late-season slump has caused him to drop, though, and he'll need a strong showing in the NCAA tournament to move back up the board.
 
32
Austin Wilson
OF Stanford
R/R6-5245
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 28

Wilson has huge raw power and a colossal arm, but his on-field results have yet to meet his potential. Nevertheless, he's expected to have a high asking price that the Yankees may be able to match. Wilson also retains the option of returning to Stanford for his senior season, as Appel did last year.
 
33
Kevin Ziomek
LHP Vanderbilt
R/L6-3200
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: NR

The Yankees can go in all sorts of directions to close out the first round. Ziomek, a mature, aggressive lefty with a solid array of pitches, would be a solid choice. A sleeper for this spot is Dom Nunez, a lefty-hitting high school catcher from the Sacramento area who several scouts have compared to longtime Yankees star Jorge Posada.
 

Dave Perkin is a professional baseball scout who has worked for the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and Baseball America. His first book, "Five Plus Tools" is scheduled to be published on April 1, 2014.

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