Three Mock Drafts, Three Possible Picks for the Cubs

With the First-Year Player Draft (June 5) just around the corner, the top talent evaluators in the game have begun releasing mock drafts for the first round selections. The general consensus is the Astros, Marlins and White Sox will take pitchers with the first three picks in the draft, which could leave the Cubs selecting a position player at No. 4. The injuries and subsequent Tommy John surgeries to RHP Jeff Hoffman and RHP Erick Fedde have impacted their draft status and reduced the number of college arms the Cubs could have taken in the first round.

Reports and rumors have suggested the Cubs wanted to take a college pitcher with the fourth pick in the draft, and the front office was very high on Jeff Hoffman. Multiple reports have stated the Cubs cannot take Hoffman with their first round pick and despite the raw talent; the high school arms, RHP Tyler Kolek and, LHP Brady Aiken, carry a lot of risk and are not as projectable as college arms.

LHP Carlos Rodon is the top college pitcher that will be available in the draft. RHP Tyler Beede (Vanderbilt), LHP Kyle Freeland (Evansville), RHP Aaron Nola (LSU), LHP Brandon Finnegan (TCU) and LHP Sean Newcomb (Hartford) are considered to be the other top college starters behind Rodon. And with Hoffman recovering from Tommy John, the college pitchers not named Rodon have similar projections. Aaron Nola, the right hander from LSU, is considered to be a safe bet and some think he could be ready to pitch in the majors by next summer. Nola projects as a middle of the rotation starter and not a top of the rotation starter that a team would select with the fourth overall pick in the draft. The Cubs were also thought to be interested in Brandon Finnegan, but his recent issues (shoulder) have likely taken Finnegan off the Cubs board.

The Cubs appear to be high on two high school position players, C Alex Jackson and SS Nick Gordon, and either one of those two prep players might have been at the top of the Cubs draft board earlier this spring.

Keith Law (ESPN), Jonathan Mayo ( and John Manuel (Baseball America) released mock drafts on Friday. And both Law and Manuel have the Cubs taking a pitcher while Mayo thinks the Cubs will take a position player.

Keith Law

Keith Law has the Astros selecting LHP Brady Aiken with the first pick in the draft and Alex Jackson going to the Marlins with the second overall pick. And the White Sox taking RHP Tyler Kolek with the third pick. Law thinks LHP Carlos Rodon will slip to the Cubs with the fourth pick.

Keith Law called Carlos Rodon dropping to the fourth spot “close to a dream scenario for the Cubs.” Law said the Cubs would “love Rodon or Brady Aiken” and would like Tyler Kolek with the fourth pick. If Rodon and the other two arms are not there, the Cubs would have “to choose from the next tier.” Law thinks if the three hurlers are gone, Alex Jackson, OF Michael Conforto, Aaron Nola “and at least half-dozen other possibilities” will be in the mix for the Cubs. Law passed along a rumor that the Cubs could select C Max Pentecost “on a huge under-slot deal.”

Jonathan Mayo

Before the college baseball season began it was considered a given that LHP Carlos Rodon would go 1:1 in the draft to the Houston Astros. Rodon has been inconsistent this spring and his performance has opened the door for the Astros to use the first pick on a player other than the lefty from NC State.

Jonathan Mayo thinks the Astros will take Carlos Rodon with the first pick, Tyler Kolek going to the Marlins and Brady Aiken ending up on the South Side with the White Sox. With the top three pitchers off the board, Mayo sees the Cubs grabbing Alex Jackson with the fourth overall pick. Mayo pointed to the injury to Jeff Hoffman as the reason the Cubs would take Jackson, who is considered to be the best hitting prospect in the draft.

John Manuel

John Manuel released his second mock draft on Friday. In his first projection for the upcoming draft, Manuel thought the Cubs would take RHP Brandon Finnegan. But Finnegan’s recent issues with his shoulder and subsequent poor outing has changed Manuel’s mind.

John Manuel has Carlos Rodon going to the Astros, the Marlins selecting Alex Jackson and Brady Aiken ending up as the third overall pick to the White Sox. Manuel thinks the Cubs will take LHP Kyle Freeland.

About the Cubs’ pick, Manuel said, “Here’s where it gets interesting. The Cubs want a college pitcher, but Rodon is unlikely to fall this far, leaving Kolek and his 100 mph fastball staring them in the face. Kolek is such an outlier, however, that teams aren’t sure what to make of him. It’s not only his velocity and height (6-foot-6), but at 250 pounds he’d be the biggest high school pitcher ever drafted in the first round by weight, bigger than the Indians 1998 first-rounder C.C. Sabathia (listed at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds when drafted). Kolek’s extreme velocity, at a time when every other hard-throwing prep pitcher, it seems, is having Tommy John surgery, further complicated matters. Kolek’s unique combination appears to be dropping him down boards.”

Lefty Kyle Freeland has improved his stock with a “stellar season” and Manuel does not see him dropping out of the top 10 “if he doesn’t falter down the stretch.”

Jon Heyman posted a report on why Jeff Hoffman will likely still be selected in the draft. A team with multiple picks in the first round, like the Blue Jays, could take a chance with Hoffman. Another factor in a team selecting Hoffman in the first round, that Heyman did not bring up, would be the team being able to sign Hoffman for under slot and use the money saved with signing Hoffman on a later pick for a player that might have been considered unsignable.

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  • cubsin

    Is there any chance the Cubs could draft Hoffman and sign him for a bit more than his projected (middle of round one) bonus? With normal recovery time, Hoffman could be back in action by May or June 2015, and perhaps ready for MLB sometime in 2016. That would give the Cubs the guy they wanted before the injury and an extra $2 million or so to pay overslot bonuses to a couple of difficult-to-sign prospects.

    • Vivid_Reality

      Personally I don’t think it would be worth it. Either one of the top three pitchers fall to four or we take Jackson. The comeback rate for TJ is promising but there is no need to take that risk with the #4 overall pick. If Hoffman was the dominant number one or two overall player maybe we take him. Consider that Giolito was thought to be the top hs pitcher with strong consideration to go number one overall and he fell to #16 in the 2012 draft with TJ concerns. I think the stronger, although imperfect, comparison for Hoffman is Sean Manaea. He was in the fringy top 5 range and suffered a hip injury that knocked him our for the remainder of the year. He slid to the 34th pick last year. Arm vs Hip isn’t the greatest correlation but it is fresh in the mind. Honestly it should be worse but everyone seems confident that Hoffman still goes top 15.

    • Tony_H

      I can see the Cubs trying to get an under slot deal with the 4th pick, but not sure it will be for Hoffman and the risk associated with him.

      • Ripsnorter1

        “Under slot money saving deal” is what I think is going to drive the Cubs’ pick in 2014. It’s mainly going to be about saving money.

        • Tony_H

          Not saving money to go on a vacation, but saving money to be able to reallocate the money to later picks.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            they are getting really really good at this “reallocation” you speak of. I am pretty sure they have reallocated most of the mlb payroll and stadium rehab funds at this point. exciting stuff for a fan to hear!

          • John_CC

            Fair enough, but anybody that is going to start ripping on the cheapness of the Cubs if they go under a lot on the first pick is just ignorant. It will not be saving any money rather making it possible to sign a better player later who otherwise would not be considered, thus making him worth more than the general board ranking.

            Normally I would not like this with the #4 pick, but dropoff is seems pretty dramatic after #3. So if it meant getting Hoffman instead of Jackson and then one or two over slots later I think it could be worth it.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            So we didn’t need to be as bad as we were last year…it was all for nothing?

          • Tony_H

            The draft order also dictates how much you have to sign players from the draft. The amount of arms in this draft could lead to some need for money later on to sign a player.

    • George Gray

      this would not make sense from a #4 draft pick standpoint. There are still some excellent pitchers in the draft that will be ready to begin their careers. The Cubs do not need to sign anymore pitchers that are coming off injuries, we have had enough of that over the past couple of years.

  • Tony_H

    We are now in the time of the year where we can really look at the upcoming draft and have a better shot of giving educated guesses as to where and to who players will go. I mean it wasn’t long ago, that Rodon was the hands down #1 before he even threw a pitch this year and there was talk Tyler Beede could get picked #1 ahead of him.

    Now Rodon could slip to the Cubs and Beede is a mid 1st round pick in many mock drafts?

    What would be fun, is after the draft to see all the teams real Top 10 players and then combine them all to see what the real consensus Top 10 players were by the real teams. But even then, the draft order will not follow even this system as all it takes is the team on the clock to take a player no one else had in the Top 10 to change everything. And no matter how much Uncle Bud and Jerry Reinsdorf try to change the rules to have the BPA always taken, teams will always do what they feel is best for their team and if they have 4-5 players they feel could be picked with their pick, they will look to make a deal and save some money for a player that has slipped through this slotted system, so that they have some extra money to throw at him. I can see the Cubs doing that with the 4th pick this year.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Personally I would rather the cubs go with a position player every year in the 1st round. And go heavily on pitching rounds 2-4. There is a lot more injury risk with pitching.

  • Tom U

    While pitching is always a priority, I’m not sure how heavily it will figure in this year’s draft.

    The Cubs have eight pitchers signed from last year’s draft that have yet to see action this season. Add to that three hold overs from the Boise squad and and six from the AZL Cubs, and that is 17 pitchers ready to go. That also doesn’t include rehabbing pitchers Josh Conway and Michael Heesch, along with injured pitchers Dillon Maples, Anthony Prieto, and Trey McNutt.

    From a system point of view, the position of most need is catcher, but that doesn’t make Alex Johnson the top choice. A player with a similar developmental pattern as Kris Bryant last year would be optimal, if he existed. That way he could start 2015 at Double-A, slotting between Rafael Lopez and Charles Cutler at Iowa and Will Remillard at Daytona.

    An player that might be the best fit is SS Nick Gordon. Gordon has the lightning speed of his brother (Dee Gordon) and the cannon arm of his father (Tom “Flash” Gordon). He would slot between Carlos Penalver and Gleyber Torres on the depth chart and is also projectable to centerfield. Gordon’s lack of can’t-miss offense would be the only negative.

    • John_CC

      I have read that he has a very strong arm and throws a wicked curve ball that his dad taught him. With the “pedigree” as they say and question about his bat, any chance they would look at him as a convert to pitcher?

  • Bryan

    It’s no big deal….if the Cubs don’t hit jackpot this year there’s always a pick in the top 3 waiting for them next year, and perhaps the year after that as well. We’ll then be in Year 5 of the Theo regime. A likely half-decade of rebuild.

    • cubtex

      It is ridiculous. An all day sucker!

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      its working for the Astros…they are monsters! Oh…wait.

  • Tom U

    Some good news out of extended spring training. 2013 Northwest League batting champion, OF Kevin Encarnacion, is back to limited activities after suffering burns in an off-season car accident, according to Arizona Phil

  • cubtex

    Neil. Finnegan is a LHP…,the article above stated he was a righty. I like him but he is 5’10 and many project him a late inning bullpen arm. Rodon slipping to Cubs would be a dream scenario.

    • Neil

      Thanks for catching, I had it wrong in one of the spots. Corrected.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    I don’t get the Kolek concerns about height/weight. We keep hearing that other pitchers are “slight” and “not built to handle the workload”.

    Seems like mlb scounts/GMs don’t know what they want, as far as physical stature, in a P prospect.

    • Tom U

      The Mount Olympus statue of the perfect pitching prospect stands about 6-foot-4 and weighs around 250 pounds.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        was Zambrano the statue model?

        • Tom U

          Zambrano was not close enough to Earth to touch the peak.

  • Tom U

    This might be a clue to some movement afoot in the minors. Cubs 2013 30th round draft pick RHP Zak Hermans, currently in EXST, Tweeted that he and RHP Corbin Hoffner are at the Phoenix airport and are having some trouble with their flight being cancelled and rescheduled..

    • Tom U

      Zak Hermans just Tweeted me back and reported that he and Hoffner are being promoted to Kane County.

      • Tony_H

        Any thoughts on the subsequent moves up the system?

        • Tom U

          Will not speculate at this time. I don’t know whether there will be moves up or if there are pitchers going on the DL.

          • Tony_H

            NP, let’s hope it is promotions and not injuries.

          • Tom U

            I just checked the transactions, and the only one for the system is Iowa 1B Lars Anderson on the DL retroactive to May 17, so far.

  • John_CC

    I understand that CC is a bit of an anomoly…but hardly a bad comp!

  • Richard Hood

    It is strange. Last year by this point I was screaming for Bryant at 2 over any of the pitchers. This year I have no voice for any of the options. I think I will just sit back and let McLeod do his job and gripe about what ever pick they make at 2 because right now the top of the board looks real shaky.

    • BigJonLilJon

      There at 1.4 this year- 4th pick in 1st round

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      that is why rebuilding through the draft alone is like gambling with your life savings instead of investing it.

      • Tony_H

        They are actually using all fronts to rebuild, not just the Rule 4 drafts. The one they are not using for long term players is free agency where most guys are 30 and over.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          and this has translated to their record, in Chicago, at the mlb level, so far.

          • Tony_H

            Of course it has, they haven’t been trying to rebuild this from the major league level down, but from the minors up.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            so we can only expect to be competitive when the entire team is filled with guys that played, at some point, in our minor league system, whether via draft or trade?

            Not sure how waiting for Bryant/Baez/Soler/Almora is any different than waiting for CPat/Pie/Colvin/Guzman.

            The Bulls tried this, post-Jordan, and failed miserably. They only got back to playoffs after signing notable FA’s again. Then they got stupid lucky that NBA has draft lottery to get D Rose, only to realize you can’t put all your hopes in 1 player b/c injuries happen anytime to anyone.

            What was the stat…only 8% of 1st rounders make impact at MLB level? The Cubs have how many holes at MLB level? Math tells me waiting on 1st rounders to take us to the playoffs is a shell game.

          • Tony_H

            ONLY be competitive when the ENTIRE team…

            I don’t think so. This isn’t an only and entire game or situation. This year’s August/September will be important to see if which of the Baez, Bryants, Alcantara’s etc are ready to go and I could see us adding our Jayson Werth type player this off-season. I really think next year will be the first move up in the record and that 2016 we can be competitive for the playoffs.

            We already have Rizzo, Castro, Castillo in place and if just one of Olt, Lake, Kalish can make the move this year to be included long term let along be able to be role players. Then add in Baez and Bryant’s power bats and one Jayson Werth type player and we have the nucleus moving forward.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            Rizzo gotten with JH prospect, JH drafted Castro, not sure who drafted Castillo, Olt via Garza who JH acquired. And I was a Lake homer, but he has regressed. I like Kalish, but Ricky won’t play him.

            Not that Ricky isn’t the right coach, cause Theo would never hire the wrong coach.

            I like how you are adding Baez and Bryant as a certainty.

            Jayson Werth? You really want to spend $126m on that kind of production at his age? His only good year was last year and he played in 129 games.

          • Tony_H

            Not sure who gotten which player matters at this point. Rizzo was trade for by Theo/Jed. Olt was traded for by Theo/Jed. What were they suppose to do, cut every player so that they could get 100% credit when they make a move? I would do the Rizzo trade again, the Garza trade was a steal and the Samardzija trade coming up is going to bring back even more.

            They are not certain, but I didn’t add Soler, Alcantara, Almora, etc. It was an example!

            No I don’t want Jayson Werth and would expect Theo/Jed to not overextend the market to that extent, but there is no doubt that the Nationals used the Werth signing to help push them to the next step and that is what I am talking about. The Cubs progress is very similar to what the Nationals went through.

          • K_Gripp

            It would be nice if we had back to back number one overall picks where two once in a generation cornerstone players came up in the draft. Unfortunately the Astros are outdueling us for number one picks and we are currently the odd man out for the power arms sweepstakes in this years draft.

            That being said I really want one of those three power arms but if there is one place I have complete trust in Theo and Jed it is in the draft. I’m not saying they aren’t going to miss more than they hit but I believe they have beaten the draft averages over their time in Boston and now hopefully their time in Chicago.

          • Richard Hood

            I still think that if Vitters, McNutt and Jackson were able to get the Majors and contribute by now then we would be in a better position to see our Jason Werth signing. Those loses as the first wave really hurt the rebuild more than any of the other FA’s they didn’t sign or trade they did not make.

        • Eugene Debs

          What MLB players have they traded for?

          • Tony_H

            Just looking at the 25 man roster

            Jake Arrieta
            Justin Grimm
            Neil Ramirez
            Travis Wood
            Mike Olt
            Anthony Rizzo

            Rule V
            Hector Rondon

  • Tom U

    Kane County just announced that LHP Nathan Dorris, who combined with RHP Tyler Skulina for a no-hitter last night, is being promoted to Advanced-A Daytona.

  • Eugene Debs

    The good news is we’ll have a higher pick next year.

  • Eugene Debs

    Do you know what stinks? It’s nearly June and here we are again debating how to build this club. Fans of 20 other teams still watch what’s on the field and enjoy the season. We have to have semantic debates about whether or not we’re progressing while losing 100 games. The 100 losses are just looked at as collateral damage on the way to some promised land. Will we be having the same debate in 3 years?

    • Tony_H


      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        2015: no Jerk (assume he was traded), no Hammel (traded and/or no guarantee we resign), and we are left with Wood, EJax, and maybe Arrieta (but no guarantee there). that is one #3, and two #4 or #5 type starters.

        Regardless of whether Bryant or Baez make the team, the offense may be more fun to watch, but not going to win without pitching, and there is no undefeated Japanese phenom to bid on next year.

        2016: Who else are we expecting beside Baez and Bryant, who may have arrived the year before? Almora, Alcantara? Has any team ever had 4-5 of their top prospects all “make it” in a 1-2 year timeframe? Who’s pitching…CJ Edwards ready by now…Kyle Hendricks…Pierce Johnson…any #1 or #2 types in there?

        2017: Given that Wrigley upgrades will not be completed (but hopefully started) no new tv deal in place, and 2014-2016 continued to yield attendance below the 2003-2009 era, profits will be down and no guarantee Ricketts has any money for FO, since they have only signed (1) reasonably expensive FA since 2009 (EJax).

        I would say 50/50 chance we are having the same discussion, and may be on our 3rd coach and Theo will have stopped giving interviews and showing up to the Cubs Convention or will have quit to work for an owner with money.

        • Tony_H

          I believe Theo and Jed have shown they can build a rotation as they have done each of their 3 years.. Until the sell offs each year, the rotation has been good enough to be competitive. Obviously to be a playoff contender it will need to improve, but to appease fans that just want to be entertained, the offense is what has to improve.

          The farm system is pretty deep right now and I believe will produce a handful of players that can make the 25 man roster each of the next few years.

          If for just a minute, you would stop looking at every aspect in the most negative light possible, you would see that they are not that far away from being a competitive team that you like.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            “the rotation has been good enough to be competitive”? Based on record past 3 years…no.

            JH traded for Aramis and DLee and Nomar. Even brought back Greg Maddux. Picked up pieces like Clement, traded deadweight like Hundley for 2 guys that played everyday on a division winning team. Moises Alou, Dempster, Ted Lilly. Zambrano. Great players and 3 division titles, and everyone acts like Theo has some flawless formula that involves having a crappy mlb team on purpose that will win us multiple WS rings…such bs.

            Explain how Theo maintains such an incredible farm system when the team is winning WS every year?
            If top picks like Almora, Bryant, and others are so key, and expected to be counted on, what happens when the Cubs no longer are drafting in the top 5, or even top 15 every year (because they are too busy winning WS championships)?

            The reality is their current focus and reliance on high draft picks is unsustainable, if they ever actually have success at the mlb level.

            If your answer is “well…they don’t need a top 5 pick to build a farm system” then I would agree with you, and would then ask why the Cubs have to be so bad this year, and past 2 years, if that is the case? Surely a team that is so profitable, as Crane Kenney states, can afford more FA signings (which, by the way, cost you zero draft picks…so it does not impact the draft in any way for a team in a large market like the Cubs!!!) yet the Cubs have sat on their hands.

            The only conclusion is that either:
            A. Theo doesn’t think he can build a winner without top 5 picks, and is tanking on the mlb level on purpose.
            B. Ricketts has no money somehow, or is pocketing the profits for now.

            There is a difference between asking a question and being negative. You refuse to question the FO. In Theo you trust. Your choice to be oblivious to the facts.

          • Tony_H

            The rotation the last now 3 years has done their job, you can base the entire rotation on the end of year record if you like, but that is ignoring that they rotation did their job and if they had kept everyone would have continued to do keep the team in games.

            You have never understood how they are building the farm system and how they will maintain it.

            I am not oblivious to the facts, I knew that this was going to be a long road and have accepted that losing at the major league level is a part of it. Could they have made this less painful at the major league level, of course. But Top 5 picks are there for a reason and where would the Nationals be right now without Harper, Strasburg and Rendon. Does that mean they can continue to build their farm system now that they pick later, no, but it won’t have the guys like Bryant being added to their system which puts the development end of the system to a test.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            2nd time you have mentioned the Nationals as some sort of goal to aspire to. Strasburg has won more than 10 games once…Harper oft-injured, and I don’t see any WS rings. Their big signing of Werth didn’t put them over the edge. Ironically, signing Alfonso Soriano to a similar contract, did net the Cubs 2 division titles…and that was somehow a horrible thing.

            but at least you admitted they are losing on purpose for the top 5 picks. Everyone wanted to argue that point earlier…just call it what it is. Every season isn’t really sacred to these guys.

            I understand exactly what they are doing: making mlb games difficult to watch, for 3 years running. But I will forget all that when they win 20 seasons in a row and WS rings are falling from the sky, and rainbows and unicorns and something something something.

          • Tony_H

            The Nationals have built a very good team that should be competitive for years to come.

            Not sure where you heard anyone say that the Cubs 2 division titles was a horrible thing. The team was older and ran its course and it was time to get younger and instead JH went older and had 2 bad seasons and got fired. If he had gone younger and at the time stayed competitive he would probably still be the GM of the Chicago Cubs and we would never of had to go through a rebuild.

            I have been saying they are going for top draft picks, but not in the way you think. Every season is sacred, but not at the expense of the long term plan. The last part so many of you conveniently leave out.

            I would hope you would be satisfied with one World Series ring, but even that won’t make you happy.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            I don’t need them to ever win a WS. I have been a fan since early 80s and enjoyed 84, 89, 98, 2003-4, 2007-8 immensely.

            If the prereq to being a fan and enjoying a team is winning a WS, then the Cubs wouldn’t have any fans that are alive at this point.

            I want them to be regularly competitive (think Cardinals, Braves) and provide entertaining players.

            ok…gotta go..Tyrion Lannister just demanded a trial by combat…gotta see how that shakes out!

            ps…I won in fantasy CCO…I am becoming the juggernaut I always imagined by team would be!

          • Tony_H

            Congrats on the win, but this all makes more sense now. Your fantasy team is a juggernaut at 3-4, but competitive. You don’t care if the Cubs in the World Series as long as they can be competitive and entertain you.

            I want the Cubs to win the World Series, but I do fantasy baseball for entertainment.

            Have a good night, good luck next week.

          • Tony_H

            And the Red Sox system is still going strong, even though Theo was always drafting late. But it now lacks the elite impact talent that you should get at the top of the draft.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            Yep…amazing he won in 2004…so quickly after arriving. He must have drafted crazy good or something in one year. I am sure real Boston baseball fans don’t consider that championship as valid, because the farm system hadn’t been built up yet at that point. I doubt they were able to enjoy just being a winner, without worrying about the future 10 years down the road. Time for Game of Thrones…like Theo’s plan, also a work of fiction. (but more entertaining in real-time!)

          • Tony_H

            Why do you have to be so sarcastic? Any World Series victory is great. I wouldn’t care if the Cubs went all FA’s and won a World Series. But at some point that plan hits a wall and you have to get younger. We hit that wall without even getting to a World Series.

    • K_Gripp

      2014? No, 2015. 2015? No, 2016. So it goes.

  • No Baseball In Indiana

    Once the cubs get Bryant up, have at least a league average 2b, and fill out the OF, they will dominate. And that time is very near.

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  • Javier Bryant

    Unless one of the three pitchers are still there, the Cubs are gonna go with Nick Gordon. I could even see them taking Gordon over Kolek.

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