With barely two weeks left before the Cubs make what could be the defining draft pick of this second-year regime, top front office officials are gathering the final - and finest details - on the few players they're considering for the No. 2 overall selection on June 6.
Team president Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, top scouting/player development executive Jason McLeod and amateur scouting director Jaron Madison are in Oklahoma City today to meet with Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray - one of the top two pitchers in the draft.
The Big-12 tournament opens in Oklahoma City Thursday.
The 6-4, 239-pound Gray is the more powerful of the draft's top pair of pitchers, but Stanford right-hander Mark Appel - a senior who refused to sign after being drafted eighth overall a year ago - is considered the more refined pitcher.
Barring unforeseen issues arising with either pitcher in the next two weeks, the Cubs are expected to take whichever pitcher the Houston Astros do not take with the No. 1 overall pick.
Given the dearth of potential impact pitchers in the Cubs' system and the diminishing means of acquiring free agent talent in the current baseball economy, this Cubs' pick could have a disproportionate impact on the team's rebuilding effort.
Appel, who's represented by Scott Boras, rejected a $3.8 million offer by the Pittsburgh Pirates last year after falling to eighth following several draft projections that had him going No. 1 overall.
The Cubs have $10.56 allotted by MLB for draft bonuses to their top 10 picks, with more than half of that slotted for their top pick.
Teams can exceed their overall "budget" by 5 percent before losing future draft picks as penalties.