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Inbox: Looking ahead to the Draft

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

It's hard to believe the Draft is just days away. In case you haven't heard, it starts on June 12 and runs through June 14, with live coverage on Monday found on MLB Network and MLB.com, and Tuesday and Wednesday exclusively here on MLB.com.

Not surprisingly, a lot of people had Draft-related questions, to which I said, "Bring it on!" Jim Callis will have a new mock draft on Friday, and we'll both follow that up with final projections in the final hours before the Draft starts. So hopefully this Draft-infused Inbox, not to mention all of the other Draft content we're rolling out, will hold you until then.

It's hard to believe the Draft is just days away. In case you haven't heard, it starts on June 12 and runs through June 14, with live coverage on Monday found on MLB Network and MLB.com, and Tuesday and Wednesday exclusively here on MLB.com.

Not surprisingly, a lot of people had Draft-related questions, to which I said, "Bring it on!" Jim Callis will have a new mock draft on Friday, and we'll both follow that up with final projections in the final hours before the Draft starts. So hopefully this Draft-infused Inbox, not to mention all of the other Draft content we're rolling out, will hold you until then.

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:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::

What's the highest you see J.J. Matijevic going and why?
- Bobby Dalbec, Greenville, SC

To most, Dalbec is known as the the Red Sox's No. 4 prospect. But he's also a concerned teammate. Dalbec is in his first full season of pro ball after three years at the University of Arizona. For two of them, he played with Matijevic and reached out to me about his buddy's Draft stock. He was then kind enough to grant me permission to answer his question publicly for this week's Inbox, marking what I believe to be the first prospect-asked query to appear here.

Matijevic's stock is definitely on the rise after a strong junior season. He wasn't in our initial Top 100, but when we expanded to our current Draft Top 200 on the site, he landed at No. 62 overall. The left-handed hitter had always shown glimpses of hitting ability and raw power, but carried a .270 average and .409 slugging percentage into this season. But he made some adjustments that led to a huge Cape Cod League season and kept it going this year back at Arizona, finishing with a .383/.436/.633 line.

College performers like this always do well come Draft time. The one small hang up is that Matijevic doesn't have a true defensive home. He might be athletic enough to handle left field and might get to be OK at first. The good news is that his bat looks more like it might profile from either spot and seeing him go before the end of Round 2 is a distinct possibility.

Tweet from @mlbstar17: Why is Alex Lange mocked into the bottom half of the 1st? Any chance he goes higher into the top half or even top 10?

Lange is ranked No. 23 on our Top 200 list, which is more or less in line with where he's shown up in most mock drafts. I might have been the high man on him, putting him at No. 20 to the Mets a few weeks ago in my first crack at the full first round. My most recent effort last week had him going No. 25 to the Nationals and I haven't seen him higher than that anywhere else.

There are a couple of reasons for that. As good as the numbers he's put up have been, particularly the strikeout rate, he's had a few big clunkers this year, against a good TCU team in early March and then against a weak Georgia club a couple of weeks later. Arkansas beat him up pretty good in early April as well. While he pitched well against Kentucky in the SEC tournament, the LSU ace was not sharp, though he won, in regional play. My point? He hasn't been as consistently dominant as some would want to see to vault him up earlier into the first round. Every time it sounded like he might have some helium, a rough start would make the industry pause.

The other thing that holds him back is concern that he might be best suited as a reliever. There is some effort to his delivery and he overthrows at times, adversely affecting his command. That profile is a reason why he's not ranked higher and why teams in the upper half of the first round aren't being mentioned as being overly interested. Now, when decision time comes on Monday, things can change. College pitchers, especially those with a track record at a program like LSU, tend to float upward. I don't think he'll make too much of a push up, and certainly not into the top 10 as you hope, but he's still very much a first-rounder.

Tweet from @thainamo: Asked @jimcallisMLB so I'll ask you as well. Chances of Cody's brother Cole Bellinger getting drafted? What round? Better RHP or 2B?

That's right, there's another Bellinger coming. While Clay's older son Cody makes his mark as a rookie witih the Dodgers, his younger one, Cole, is a senior at Hamilton High School in Arizona. And while he does have enough talent to be drafted -- scouts say based on ability, probably in the 10th-15th round -- he's more likely to head to Grand Canyon and come out in three years as a much more viable Draft prospect.

And it will be as a right-handed pitcher, not a second baseman. Right now, his stuff is a little fringy. His fastball was in the upper-80s, though he was touching 91-92 mph later in his season. He can really spin a breaking ball as well and really has an idea of how to pitch. While he's not super tall and projectable, there could be more in the tank, with area scouts thinking a few years of tutelage in the college game the most likely route he'll take.

Tweet from @brewersfan23102: Which top-end guys might have the chance of falling due to signability (i.e. Groome in '16)? Which low-risk guys might get drafted earlier?

Every year, there's fear of guys sliding because of signability. Yes, Jay Groome put out a big pricetag prior to the Draft and that (along with some makeup concerns) forced him down a bit. But at the end of the day, the Red Sox took him at No. 12 and gave him just under $500K above pick value to get a deal done. It should be noted that last year, there were only two players (you read that right) taken in the top 10 rounds who didn't sign. In other words, if a player is drafted on Day 1 or Day 2, he's very likely to sign.

That said, the one name that comes up the most in this conversation as the Draft approaches is Texas high-school right-hander Shane Baz. Baz's name has been mentioned all over the first half of the first round, including a bit in the top 10 (the Twins initially had him on their candidates list for No. 1 overall, but no longer are considering him and the Phillies have seemed interested). But there has been some buzz about his commitment to TCU, often a tough commitment to get a player to give up, which the Pirates learned last year when they didn't sign Nick Lodolo. At this point, it's hard to know if it's posturing or a legitimate desire to go to school. But most feel that when push comes to shove, Baz will go early enough in the first round to meet his financial goals and head to the pro ranks instead of college.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.