Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
This would be fun. But it's highly unlikely.
In his latest Mock Draft, ESPN's Keith Law predicts that Oklahoma stud right-hander Jonathan Gray will be drafted by the Minnesota Twins fourth overall. How? Well, he decided that Minnesota wasn't quite as high on prep pitcher Kohl Stewart.
- Astros: 3B Colin Moran (North Carolina)
- Cubs: RHP Mark Appel (Stanford)
- Rockies: 3B/OF Kris Bryant (San Diego)
- Twins: RHP Jonathan Gray (Oklahoma)
Law says of Minnesota's selection:
Analysis: If Appel, Gray, and Bryant go 1-2-3 in some order, this would be Kohl Stewart or Reese McGuire, the latter coming in below slot (allowing them to save money toward future picks).
Which is still, really, a silly thing to do. Sure, signing a guy for below slot gives you a better chance to make sure you sign everyone else - and quantity matters when you're dealing with a crap shoot scenario - but not drafting the best player available is a disservice.
Of course it's not just Law speculating that the Twins might go with McGuire. It's been whispered since speculation began over who Minnesota might select at number four.
The bigger question for me is how Gray, in his last two Mock Drafts, has slipped to the Indians at #5 and then the Twins at #4. He has had a stellar season with the Sooners. In 16 starts, Gray has accumulated 119 innings, allowing just 78 hits, striking out 138 and walking 22 en route to a 1.59 ERA. So, why the drop from the top in his first Mock?
Some of it has to do with the hype surrounding the draft in terms of "What have you done for me lately?" And it's not like Gray has been bad recently, or even average...he just had two innings where he had to "battle". Per Law's ESPN cohort Christopher Crawford
, when after stating that Gray "made a case" for the number one overall pick said:
Gray struggled in the first two innings, but settled down to hold Coastal Carolina to just three runs while walking just one and striking out 12 Chanticleers in a 7-3 victory for the Sooners. Unfortunately, Gray was allowed to throw a whopping 130 pitches over his nine innings of work, a dangerously high pitch count at any point of the year.
"There were some less-than-ideal things, but some encouraging moments as well," an NL scout said. "It’s good to see him bounce back from the early struggles. Coastal Carolina has a good lineup and they will make you battle, and I think he did that [Friday]. With that being said, that pitch count is pretty exorbitant, no matter if he isn’t pitching for another week or another year."
The pitch count issue is legit on a young arm, but if it wasn't a big enough concern to scare you off of him before Friday, there's absolutely no chance that Friday's pitch count is going to make any difference.
I would love to see Gray fall to the Twins at number four, but I still find it dubious at worst and highly unlikely at best. Unless something terrible happens, like a stint of atrocious games or an injury, by this point teams know who they like. The team who rated Gray #1 last week, or two weeks ago, is probably still doing so this week.
But going back to Mock #2, when Law had Gray fall to the fifth pick, he used the same reasoning with the new Astros selection as he used with the Twins above: bypassing the best player available in order to sign a pick under slot and to spend more money later in the draft. And personally, I just have a really hard time buying (pun intended) into that philosophy. The further down the draft board you get, the bigger the crap shoot. You have the money to spend at the top - it's been given to you. Go get the best player you can, and if it means you don't sign your 7th and 10th round picks, or if it means you go over your spending limit by 4%, then do it.
I still see the top four picks being Gray, Appel, Bryant, and then Stewart for the Twins. Maybe something unexpected happens early on, because sometimes it does. But if Gray falls to the Twins, and they should absolutely pounce on that opportunity if it presents itself, I'd be very much surprised.