CINCINNATI -- The Cubs appear to be focusing on four players for the upcoming First-Year Player Draft, to be held June 6: pitchers Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma and Mark Appel of Stanford and third basemen Kris Bryant of San Diego and Colin Moran of North Carolina.
The Cubs have the second overall pick in the first round behind the Astros. Manager Dale Sveum has watched video of the top prospects.
"Now we're down to the core guys," Sveum said Sunday. "It's interesting to keep up with them and watch the video. There's new video that comes up sometimes. You don't get to see, like with Bryant, you don't get to see him taking ground balls, and the other day there was nice video of him taking ground balls and showing his arm angles."
Bryant has hit 30 home runs entering conference tournament play, and played for Team USA over the summer. A right-handed bat, he impressed Sveum as did Moran, a left-handed bat, considered a better pure hitter than Bryant.
"[Moran] is another polished-type hitter at that age already," Sveum said. "He has a Robin Ventura-type swing and presence at the plate. He has really good plate discipline and not really the power numbers that Bryant can put up. Bryant is a big 6-foot-5, some kind of leverage at the plate. Two different hitters, one's right, one's left. It's fun to watch them."
Sveum also has seen video of Gray and Appel.
"They're pretty special arms," Sveum said. "They're two different guys. Appel is so advanced as far as his secondary pitches, and Gray can just power you away with easy life on the fastball. It looks like it's showing 85 [mph] and it's 100.
"They're both pretty good," he said. "I don't know if one separates from the other one."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.