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Gray on top of final Mock Draft with Appel, Bryant right behind

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Before trying to help Oklahoma to the College World Series this weekend, Jonathan Gray may be the No. 1 overall choice in the draft.

For all the superstars who have been selected with the first pick in the Major League Baseball draft -- Darryl Strawberry, Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez and Joe Mauer, among others -- there are far more who did not reach such lofty status, from Steve Chilcott to Brien Taylor to Matt Bush. The challenge for the Houston Astros on Thursday night will be selecting a player who will fall a lot closer to the first group than the second.

This year that crucial and daunting task falls on Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and his scouting director Mike Elias, a 30-year-old former pitcher at Yale who never played professionally and who is in his first season with Houston. Elias got his first job in pro baseball in 2007 by beating out a pool of 500 applicants who responded to a job opening from the Cardinals on Monster.com looking for a "College Specialist."

On Thursday, he will put those skills to good use by helping his boss choose from among a trio of very special college players: Stanford righthander Mark Appel, Oklahoma righty Jonathan Gray and San Diego third baseman/first baseman Kris Bryant.

Gray led our initial Mock Draft and Bryant topped our second look last week. With that in mind, here is SI.com's third and final 2013 Mock Draft:

 
1
Jonathan Gray
RHP Oklahoma
R/R6-4239
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 1
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 2

Gray potentially solves several dilemmas for the Astros: He gives Houston a near-big-league-ready power arm and he figures to be more signable than the Scott Boras-advised Appel and Bryant. Revisiting a stratagem used last year when it took high school shortstop Carlos Correa No. 1 overall, Houston could sign Gray under his slot price and sprinkle the leftover cash around to their later picks as an inducement to get those players to sign.

Worth noting: On Monday, ESPN reported that Gray had failed a test for Adderall, which is banned by MLB unless a player has a therapeutic use exemption, which Gray reportedly did not. When reached earlier this week, Elias had no comment on whether that would impact the team's decision to draft Gray or not. .
 
2
Mark Appel
RHP Stanford
R/R6-5215
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 2
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 3

When scouting a game, Cubs president Theo Epstein rarely looks up from his iPad. He does, however, pay close attention to Appel, the most polished pitcher in this draft and a potential future ace on the North Side. Appel has three plus-pitches: fastball, curve and changeup. His fastball is 97 but he gets more outs with his other two pitches.
 
3
Kris Bryant
3B/1B University of San Diego
R/R6-5225
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 3
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 1

Bryant struggled in this past weekend's NCAA Regional, going just 2-for-13 with four strikeouts and four walks as the Toreros were eliminated. He could have moved into the top spot with a huge series. Despite that disappointment, Bryant is still the premier power bat in this draft and the Rockies will be delighted to snap him up and ship him to Coors Field soon.
 
4
Kohl Stewart
RHP St. Pius X High (Texas)
R/R6-3190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 5
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 6

There is a discernable drop in major league readiness in this draft after the Big 3. Still, there are several marvelous talents to choose from. If the Twins prefer pitching they could land Stewart, the nation's top high school arm. He has command beyond his years and well-developed secondary pitches.
 
5
Clint Frazier
OF Loganville High (Ga.)
R/R6-1190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 4
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 4

Aside form the battle for the top pick, the most intriguing aspect of Round 1 may be seeing who goes first between Frazier and Austin Meadows, a pair of Georgia high school outfielders. It will come down to who teams think will be the better hitter and Frazier has the best bat speed of any hitter in this draft, which is the primary and most important indicator that he'll be not only a good hitter but a power hitter. An extra mile an hour of bat speed can translate to an extra 15-20 feet of power.
 
6
Austin Meadows
OF Grayson High (Ga.)
L/L6-3200
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 8
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 5

Meadows may go after his Peach State rival but he is no slouch. He has terrific speed, tremendous all-around athletic ability and an ideal frame for professional baseball. His arm isn't great but he can be played in the outfield corners to hide it. His swing needs tweaking -- his legs don't provide enough drive and he gets too much weight on his back leg -- but he is still a fine hitter.
 
7
Colin Moran
3B North Carolina
L/R6-3215
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 7
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 7

Some media outlets have Moran in the running for the first pick. Stranger things have happened (see Bullington, Brian, 2002) but this is a more comfortable spot for the UNC third baseman, who is a quality, advanced lefty hitter.
 
8
Trey Ball
LHP New Castle High (Ind.)
L/L6-6180
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 16
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 8

A spike in velocity from last summer to this spring -- from the high 80's to the low to mid 90's -- has moved the athletic and projectable Ball from the middle or end of the first round up toward the top.
 
9
Reese McGuire
C Kentwood High (Wash.)
L/R6-1190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 6
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 9

The Pirates' long rebuilding program has had many roadblocks and setbacks, but this year Pittsburgh is in contention. A final piece for the team's bright future may be McGuire, a promising hitter and the finest catch-and-throw receiver in the country.
 
10
Braden Shipley
RHP Nevada
R/R6-3190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 15
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 10

Shipley has great stuff but also a relaxed, easy motion (awkwardness or stiffness in the delivery is often a harbinger of poor command and possible injury). He has a live arm but needs to work on becoming more consistent with his breaking ball. Shipley profiles as a No. 1 or 2 starter in Toronto.
 
11
DJ Peterson
1B/3B New Mexico
R/R6-1205
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 12
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 11

This draft has a surfeit of righthanded pitchers and high school catchers but is way short on mature, impact hitters such as Peterson. He should have no problem transitioning to first base and providing punch in the middle of a Mets lineup that will need some.
 
12
Dominic Smith
1B Serra High (Calif.)
L/L6-0195
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 17
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 15

The offense-hungry Mariners have watched Smith closely and could use the player who might be the purest high school hitter in the country, as well as a Gold-Glove-level first baseman.
 
13
J.P. Crawford
SS Lakewood High (Calif.)
L/R6-2180
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 31
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 13

Crawford fits as the Padres shortstop of the future. This spring, he has answered questions about his hitting ability, and there have never been questions about his defense and athletic tools.
 
14
Ryne Stanek
RHP Arkansas
R/R6-4190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 10
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 14

Each draft seems to have an endless supply of righthanded pitchers. The Pirates have snatched a few in recent years by adding Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole and may look to add to their bounty of young pitching with Stanek, a righty with an ideal frame plus a lively and quick power arm.
 
15
Chris Anderson
RHP Jacksonville
R/R6-4225
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 19
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 25

After drafting Trevor Bauer third overall in 2011, Arizona quickly jettisoned him. That raised eyebrows in the business, but there is no doubt that the Diamondbacks do an exceptional job of obtaining and developing young pitchers, as they did with Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs. Anderson could be another pillar in an impressive young Arizona staff. He's more physically mature than Stanek and Shipley and the D-backs have been keeping a close eye on him.
 
16
Tim Anderson
SS East Central CC (Mississippi)
R/R6-1170
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 33
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 16

Anderson's school is not well known but the same can't be said for its star shortstop. Unlike many prospects, late attention and exposure has benefited him. Similar to Jimmy Rollins, Anderson is a fast, quick athletic shortstop with excellent defensive skills and pop in his compact swing.
 
17
Nick Ciuffo
C Lexington High (S.C.)
L/R6-1200
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 20
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 17

Catching is the strength of the high school side of this year's draft. The Pale Hose appear to have a long-term need for a top flight backstop, and the best option on the board at this stage may be Ciuffo, a strong armed receiver with a powerful lefty bat.
 
18
Ian Clarkin
LHP Madison High (Calif.)
L/L6-2190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 13
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 18

The Dodgers, who have been shadowing Clarkin closely this spring, see a glimpse of Clayton Kershaw in Clarkin. That may be a stretch, but Clarkin does possess the best hammer curve in this year's draft.
 
19
Phil Bickford
RHP Oaks Christian High (Calif.)
R/R6-4185
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 26
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 19

Organizations look for progress and improvement in young players; few pitchers in this draft have improved as much from last summer to this spring as has Bickford, who flashes potential similar to both Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller, whom the Cardinals took at this exact same pick in 2009 and 20102, respectively.
 
20
Jon Denney
C Yukon High (Okla.)
R/R6-2205
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 11
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 20

Scouts look primarily for defensive skills in a catcher, while the bat is the primary tool at most other positions. Denney's bat is ahead of his defense; therefore McGuire and Ciuffo are ahead of him on this list. If chosen, the Tigers know that if Denney's defense catches up to his offense, they will have an All-Star.
 
21
Marco Gonzalez
LHP Gonzaga
L/L6-1195
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 29
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 21

Not blessed with size or a huge fastball, Gonzales is more of a connoisseur's delight. He mixes pitches, speeds and locations with pinpoint command. Gonzales fits right in with Tampa Bay's pitching philosophy, one of the most advanced in baseball.
 
22
Michael Lorenzen
OF Cal-State Fullerton
R/R6-3200
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 21
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 22

With his speed, defensive skills and tremendous arm, Lorenzen would be the consensus pick for the first overall selection if he had Peterson's bat, much less Bryant's. Lorenzen has struggled at the plate at times during his college career but he improved in 2013, and the Orioles have had success with players (Chris Davis, Adam Jones) whose bats take a bit of time to develop.
 
23
Phillip Ervin
OF Samford
R/R5-10205
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 18
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 23

A strong case can be made that the Rangers have the best organization in baseball. Much of that is due to drafting and development, the core of any ball club. Texas loves athletes like Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus and Ervin is another good one, as well as a mutli-tooled outfielder with speed and a lightning bat.
 
24
Andrew Thurman
RHP UC-Irvine
R/R6-3205
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 24
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 24

Oakland has a pitcher's blueprint in mind, including clean mechanics, a multi pitch mix and good control. Thurman fits that profile precisely.
 
25
Bobby Wahl
RHP Mississippi
R/R6-3200
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 25
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: NR

The Giants excel at identifying and developing hurlers. San Francisco will have several credible pitching options at this point and Wahl, a relatively close to the majors righty, may be the best available. The Giants might prefer Gonzalez or Thurman but neither figures to be around.
 
26
Austin Wilson
OF Stanford
R/R6-5245
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 28
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 32

Wilson has been plagued by injuries and inconsistent production while at Stanford. Even when healthy, scouts have voiced concerns over his bat. If Wilson hits, the Yankees could have a corner outfielder with speed and a colossal arm. However, Wilson may imitate his teammate Mark Appel and return for his senior year.
 
27
Aaron Judge
OF Fresno State
R/R6-7255
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 27
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 27

All three elite college outfielders from California in this draft -- Lorenzen, Wilson and Judge -- share common traits. They each have sensational arms, fine speed and bats that need work. Of this trio, Judge may have the best raw power, making him a unique fit for Great American Ballpark.
 
28
Eric Jagielo
3B Notre Dame
L/R6-3215
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: NR
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 28

Several stalwarts of the Cardinal scouting staff have now moved over to the Astros but the organization's philosophy when it comes to drafting hitters remains intact. Jagielo fits that mold by hitting for power while also being patient and selective.
 
29
Hunter Renfroe
OF Mississippi State
R/R6-1216
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 14
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 31

Pitching has rarely been the problem for Tampa Bay in recent years; offense and keeping key players healthy has. Renfroe may not be the entire solution, but he could give the Rays a viable corner outfielder with plus power.
 
30
Billy McKinney
OF Plano West Senior High (Texas)
L/L6-2195
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 30
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 29

On several occasions, the Rangers have chosen local talent near the top of their draft. A decent fit would be McKinney, a local high school outfielder with quality all around tools and a lefthanded stroke which is compact and powerful.
 
31
Hunter Harvey
RHP Bandys High (N.C.)
R/R6-3175
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 23
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 30

The son of former Angels and Marlins reliever Bryan Harvey, Hunter provides the Braves with the ideal template for a high school pitching prospect: terrific raw stuff, a projectable, athletic frame and a big league pedigree. Scouting and development traditionalists, the Braves have found success with their methods for over 20 years.
 
32
Robert Kaminsky
LHP St. Joseph Regional High (N.J.)
B/L6-0190
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 32
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: NR

Kaminsky has stated that he doesn't pay attention to Mock Drafts. That's probably a good thing, since a plethora of draft scenarios have been imagined for him. This spot is perhaps the most optimistic fit for Kaminsky, who has fine stuff and a mean competitive streak but not a great deal of projection.
 
33
Sean Manaea
LHP Indiana State
R/L6-5235
   
Mock Draft 1.0 Position: 9
Mock Draft 2.0 Position: 26

A legitimate candidate to be the first overall pick after his stellar Cape Cod League performance last summer, Manaea has been bothered by injuries to his left hip and shoulder this spring and has shown only flashes of his talent from last summer. When healthy, though, he's demonstrated 1-1 type of ability. Like Mark Appel, Manaea is a Scott Boras client and could follow Appel's lead by returning to school. Given how far he's already fallen, that might be a smart move.
 

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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