I don’t mean to belittle the White Sox’s 17th overall pick in next week’s MLB Draft, but this year is clearly about the second overall pick that belongs to Theo Epstein and his Chicago Cubs. The White Sox might surreally find comfort in grabbing a hitting prospect who can play right field, but he’ll take years to develop and the White Sox have enough clout and presence in free agency to go out and attract a player or two to bring them competitive consistently in their division.
Far more compelling is the massive decision facing the Cubs. It comes down to a left- or right-handed pitcher. The Cubs stand behind only the Houston Astros of the AL West and if the Astros don’t take the right-handed Mark Appel with their pick then Epstein and his crew will be dancing in the middle of Addison Street. However, unless Epstein has compromising photos of Astros BM Jeff Luhnow, Appel will not be available to the Cubs. The Astros are not beyond surprising us, though, given that they took a Puerto Rican SS last year to confound the pundits. After that draft, Appel chose to return to Stanford in lieu of signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s done with school now and won’t reject his fate in the draft. If the Cubs end up having the ability to draft him both parties will be extremely satisfied with their respective destinies. The North Side would be a dream to someone from Stanford, especially with the type of prospects the Cubs have in their system.
If Appel goes by way of Houston, then the Cubs will likely pick southpaw Sean Manaea from Indiana St. University. He’s more likely to be available than Appel if only because he’s dealing with injuries. He’s got a natural tie-in to Epstein with his success in the Cape Cod League and his New England connection. It’s even possible that Epstein might go with Manaea if Appel is available. Both pitchers represent different opportunities for the Cubs. I kind of like Manaea as a better fit for the Cubs who are thick with righthanders. Appel will also cost the Cubs a lot more money since he is healthy and has already spurning the Pirates.
The Cubs can’t blow this pick. tThis is the highest they’ve had in a while and they need to grab a cornerstone arm like they did in 2001 with Prior.