Quick Hits: Strasburg, Cole, Rangers, Butler

The pitching matchup in tonight’s game between the Nationals and Pirates features two former No. 1 overall picks: Stephen Strasburg (2009) and Gerrit Cole (2011). Pitching matchups between No. 1 overall picks are rare, not only because there’s only one No. 1 pick each year, but also because many top picks are position players, and because some top draft picks don’t pan out. Prior to Strasburg, the last No. 1 picks who were pitchers were David Price of the Rays (2007) and Luke Hochevar of the Royals (2006), and Hochevar is now a reliever. The previous two No. 1 overall pitchers (assuming one doesn’t count 2004’s Matt Bush, who converted to pitching and never played in the big leagues) were Bryan Bullington (2002, Pirates) and Matt Anderson (1997, Tigers). Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • In 2011, the Rangers drafted, but did not sign, three players who could be first-round picks in this year’s draft, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan notes. Those are Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher (the Rangers’ sixth-round pick in 2011), Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost (seventh round) and TCU pitcher Brandon Finnegan (45th round). MLB.com currently ranks Finnegan the 11th-best prospect in the draft, with Fisher at No. 22 and Pentecost at No. 24. Fisher and the Rangers could not find common ground on a signing bonus, and the Rangers were worried about Pentecost’s health. As for Finnegan, it’s not uncommon for teams to fail to sign late-round picks, and Sullivan points out that the Rangers did manage to sign C.J. Edwards, who they drafted three rounds later, then sent to Chicago in the Matt Garza deal.
  • Cardinals pitcher Keith Butler will have Tommy John surgery, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets. Butler has pitched a total of 22 innings of relief for the Cardinals in 2013 and 2014 combined, with a 6.14 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9. He is only 25, however, and has pitched very well at the Triple-A level.

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