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

Photo: Lenny Ignelzi/AP

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

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:

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