Gerrit Cole Rumors
Gerrit Cole wasn’t the best pitcher in the country this year. He wasn’t even the best pitcher on his team (that distinction belongs to third overall selection Trevor Bauer). But the Pirates selected Cole with the first overall pick in spite of his good-but-not-great numbers because they see him as a future impact starter in the Major Leagues.
"If we were focused on taking the player who performed the best this year, there might have been other options," GM Neal Huntington said on a conference call after selecting Cole. "Our focus is selecting the player that we believe is going to be the best for the organization two, four, six, eight, ten years from now.”
Cole posted a 3.31 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 for UCLA last year. Those numbers are good and Cole insists he’s capable of more.
“Obviously it wasn’t up to my standards, but you try not to think about it,” he said. “I didn’t really let it get to me or affect me very much. I just control what I can control and let the teams do the evaluation.”
The Pirates' top amateur talent evaluator, scouting director Greg Smith, was impressed with the way the right-hander battled through tough spots this season, so Pittsburgh selected a pitcher with its top pick for the second consecutive season (the Pirates selected high schooler Jameson Taillon last year). Smith and Huntington considered taking high school and college position players first overall before deciding that they wanted more pitching.
“You can never have too much of it. It’s the most valuable commodity in our game,” Huntington said. “We haven’t consciously gone out to stockpile arms. We play by the integrity of the [draft] board.”
Of course, Cole isn’t Pirates property just yet. The 20-year-old Scott Boras client already turned down first round money once, when he went to UCLA instead of signing with the Yankees in 2008. No first overall pick is ever cheap, but Huntington says he expects to work out a deal by the August 15th signing deadline.
“Signability is an issue with every player that comes off the board in the first round,” he said. “We’re going to work hard. We’re going to fight to find a common ground that makes sense for both sides.”
The Pirates may be headed for a 19th consecutive losing season in 2011, but if their assessment of Gerrit Cole is accurate, they're a little closer to becoming a winner again. They have officially selected the UCLA right-hander with the first pick of the amateur draft.
Cole stands 6'4" and doesn't turn 21 until the fall. He throws a slider and change-up, plus a fastball that regularly reaches the mid 90s. His stuff didn’t translate into the statistical success you’d expect for a first overall pick (teammate Trevor Bauer posted more impressive numbers). Cole finished the season with a 3.31 ERA, 119 strikeouts and 24 walks in 114 1/3 innings - impressive numbers, but certainly not Strasburg-esque.
Cole has experience as a first rounder. The Yankees selected him out of high school in 2008. He declined to sign, even though he’s a Yankees fan who counts Roger Clemens and Mariano Rivera among his role models.
The Pirates have had the first overall pick three other times in their history. They selected Jeff King in 1986, Kris Benson in 1996 and Bryan Bullington in 2002. Scouting director Greg Smith and GM Neal Huntington also considered Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen and others with the top pick.
The Pirates have until August 15th of this year to sign Cole, who is represented by Scott Boras. The commissioner’s office recommended a $4MM signing bonus for last year’s top pick, which turned out to be Bryce Harper.
Photo courtesy UCLA athletics.
We've already learned that right-hander Gerrit Cole will be the Pirates' choice with the first overall pick in today's amateur draft, and it seems that the next two picks are also starting to crystalize. "Barring huge late surprises," tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the top three look to be Cole, Anthony Rendon (to the Mariners) and Trevor Bauer (to the Diamondbacks). Here's the latest as we're just hours away from the 2011 draft...
- Cole, Rendon and Bauer are the first three picks for Baseball America's Jim Callis in his final mock draft. This represents a reversal for Callis, who said on Friday that "[Danny] Hultzen to Arizona was the biggest lock in the first six picks." Instead, Callis has Hultzen falling to the Nationals at No. 6.
- Francisco Lindor had a great workout with the Mariners and there were rumors Seattle could take the high school shortstop with the No. 2 pick, reports Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. Still, Goldstein predicts Seattle to draft Rendon in his latest mock since Jack Zduriencik didn't see much of Lindor in game action and, if the M's did branch out to take a high school player, they might prefer Bubba Starling.
- Marc Hulet of Fangraphs and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo also have Cole, Rendon and Bauer as the first three picks in their last mock drafts.
- Also from Mayo, he names the ten best draft picks in history according to their placement in the draft order. For instance, Alex Rodriguez is the best first overall pick ever, Reggie Jackson is the best second overall pick ever, etc.
- Now that it appears Cole will be Pittsburgh's pick at No. 1, the second-guessing has already begun. "I think history suggests that the Pirates may be making a mistake here," writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, who cites the surprisingly weak crop of pitchers taken with the first overall pick. (The jury is still out, of course, on David Price and Stephen Strasburg.)
- Meanwhile, Tom Krasovic of West Coast Bias asks five scouts and an executive who they would rather draft between Cole and Bauer. Cole won the informal poll, but only by a 4-2 margin.
- Nationals owner Mark Lerner says his team won't hesitate to spend to get the draft picks they want, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post (via the Post's Adam Kilgore). "Last year we had great luck in going after kids with signability issues like A.J. Cole and Robbie Ray, and hopefully we’ll have the same opportunity again this year if the opportunity presents itself," Lerner said.
- The Rockies are looking at Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong or UNC shortstop Levi Michael with the 20th overall pick in the first round, tweets ESPN's Keith Law. Colorado apparently won't be selecting Utah first baseman C.J. Cron.
- The Tigers have had success finding Major League players in the late rounds of recent drafts, reports MLive.com's Matt Sussman. Detroit won't have a pick until the 76th overall selection after losing its first round pick to Boston as compensation for signing Victor Martinez.
- MLBTR's Dan Mennella already posted a set of draft links earlier today, so click here for even more draft news on this busy day in baseball.
The day of the First-Year Player Draft is finally upon us. Here's the latest news and rumors as tonight's event draws nearer ...
- The Pirates, as has been speculated for several days, will take UCLA righty Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 overall pick, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.
- The Orioles have long been linked to prep pitcher Dylan Bundy out of Oklahoma with the No. 4 pick, but they may be shifting focus to Archie Bradley, another prep pitcher, writes Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com.
- Ed Barkowitz of Philly.com identifies TCU lefty Matt Purke as a possibility for the Phillies with their first pick, No. 39. Purke, who was a first-round pick of the Rangers in 2009 but didn't sign, has seen his stock tumble as a result of shoulder troubles.
- Because the Cardinals have only one pick on Day 1 of the draft and only two in the top 100, they're less likely to take risky players, writes Nathan Hart of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The Redbirds are tentatively planning to take a position player, though that is not definite.
- The Rangers are looking at Massachusetts prep righty Tyler Beede, writes Jamey Newberg of the Newberg Report, noting how difficult it can be to accurately predict draft picks.
- The Rockies are still on Utah first baseman C.J. Cron at No. 20, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter).
- It's never too late to draft a superstar, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo!, who runs down some of the best steals in draft history.
- The Dodgers worked out Trevor Gretzky, Wayne's son, and Ryan Garvey, Steve's son, on Sunday, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, though both players have committed to college.
- Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald has had a strange journey through the minors, which is why drafting two-sport stars is tricky, writes Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com. Ryan Hannable, also of WEEI.com, has tallied up the experts' projections for the Red Sox's draft picks.
- Owning the first overall pick in the draft does not guarantee future success, writes Rob Neyer of SBNation.com.
Here's the latest as we close in on Monday's First-Year Player Draft ...
- The Royals will be tempted to take prep outfielder Bubba Starling from Kansas with the No. 5 overall pick, writes Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. The Royals are thought to covet a polished pitcher so that he can help the big league team sooner than later, according to Dodd, but they've smarted over missing out on local products Albert Pujols and Logan Morrison in the recent past, and GM Dayton Moore has discussed the importance of snatching up local talent.
- The Pirates' indecision about which pricey college player to take select at No. 1 overall -- Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon are represented by Scott Boras, while Danny Hultzen is reportedly seeking $13MM -- has some baseball people wondering whether they'll take a prep player like Starling or Dylan Bundy in order to preserve their draft budget and overpay for tough-to-sign players at later picks, writes Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. Also within that piece, Rogers examines some of the crucial selections of the past 10 drafts.
- The Phillies are charged with restocking their farm despite making their first pick at No. 39, writes Bob Brookover of Philly.com. The fact that many of the Phils' core players are homegrown and others were acquired with prospects is a testament to the scouting and development departments, according to Brookover.
- The Royals could also select UConn right-hander Matt Barnes with the fifth overall pick, writes Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner. Within that piece, Goff explains Barners' unforeseen ascent to likely top-10 selection.
- The Astros were once interested in Texas A&M righty John Stilson at No. 11, according to Goff, but the hurler has generally slipped out of first-round consideration due to a shoulder injury. As a result, Stilson is now a deep sleeper, writes Goff.
- Jonathan May of MLB.com published his latest mock draft today, with Cole, Rendon and Hultzen going at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 to the Pirates, Mariners and D'Backs, respectively.
- Four of six industry experts polled said they prefer Cole to Trevor Bauer of the two UCLA Bruins, but it's closer than you think, writes Tom Krasovic.
The Pirates set an attendance record Saturday night, drawing 39,441 fans, a PNC Park high. Those in attendance saw the hometown Bucs beat the team atop the National League standings for a second straight game. With a win today, Pittsburgh would sweep the Phillies and reach .500. Let's check out the latest Pirates-related links....
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider link) says "the betting is very heavy" the Pirates will take Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick in tomorrow's draft, as Dejan Kovacevic reported yesterday. If they decide to go another direction though, there are plenty of viable options, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Pirates president Frank Coonelly tells Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the team is once again prepared to spend big on the draft, as they have in recent years. Coonelly points out that with potential changes to baseball's collective bargaining agreement looming, draftees may be more inclined to sign this year rather than take their chances under a new system next year.
- Within the same piece, Coonelly says it's too early to know whether the Pirates will be buyers or sellers at this July's trade deadline: "If we're in the hunt and the club has needs, we have the financial flexibility to look for pieces to help the club win this year."
Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hears that the Pirates will select UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick in Monday's amateur draft (subs. req'd). ESPN's Buster Olney says (on Twitter) that other teams anticipate the Mariners will select a position player with the second overall pick. Based on recent rumors, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon would seem likely.
A few weeks ago we heard that Pittsburgh was considering a handful of players for that top pick, but they're going with Cole because he represents their best chance to land truly elite starting pitching, as Kovacevic notes. Tim Dierkes introduced us to Cole earlier this week, a hard-throwing righty that spurned the Yankees as the 28th overall pick out of high school in 2008. Ben Nicholson-Smith spoke to Cole back in March.
This is the fourth time the Pirates have held the first overall pick. They selected college shortstop Jeff King in 1986, and college righties Kris Benson and Bryan Bullington in 1996 and 2002, respectively.
Alex Rodriguez, the first overall pick 18 years ago, has an .845 OPS after a two-hit game in Oakland today. Here's the latest on this year's draft, as we await another first overall pick...
- Teams are hearing that the asking price for Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen is $13MM, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter).
- High school shortstop Francisco Lindor will hold a private workout for the Diamondbacks tomorrow, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert (on Twitter). Arizona selects third and seventh overall in this year's draft.
- Lindor, a high school shortstop, is being strongly considered by teams with top five picks, including the Mariners (who pick second overall) according to Jason A. Churchill of ESPN.com. Lindor could end up as a speedy switch-hitter with some power and an elite glove.
- What do Matt Bush, Wade Townsend and Colt Griffin have in common? They're among the worst ten single-digit draft picks of the decade, according to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus.
- In this week's edition of Ask BA, Jim Callis of Baseball America says the Pirates will likely select Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, UCLA righty Gerrit Cole or Hultzen. At this point, it's a matter of "reading the tea leaves," since Pittsburgh's intention remains unclear.
The Dodgers have had unofficial conversations with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier about long-term deals, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. GM Ned Colletti would like to lock both outfielders up instead of letting them hit free agency after the 2012 season. Here are the rest of Heyman’s rumors:
- Though it’s hard to imagine Dodgers owner Frank McCourt signing either player long-term given his current financial issues, MLB seems hopeful that they can find a new owner for the team if and when it's necessary.
- Proposed Mets limited partner David Einhorn will have the chance to increase his share of the team from 33% to 60% after five years, according to Heyman. Majority owner Fred Wilpon could then block Einhorn and repay him his $200MM while allowing him to keep 16.5% of the team. Heyman hears that the Wilpons won’t allow Einhorn to become majority owner. Various reports about the value of the deal circulated over the weekend.
- Anthony Rendon’s draft stock is again rising, according to Heyman. The Mariners, who select second, could choose the Rice third baseman if the Pirates pick UCLA righty Gerrit Cole first overall. If the Pirates take Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen with the top pick, Rendon and Cole figure to be Seattle’s top choices.
- The Red Sox could look to acquire an outfielder if J.D. Drew’s nagging injuries persist.
- The Nationals are suggesting that they will have a high asking price for Ivan Rodriguez.
In a draft considered by experts to be deep in pitching, six college right-handers possess the talent to rank within the top 20 overall for ESPN's Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein, and Baseball America.
Gerrit Cole, UCLA
Law has Cole going first overall to the Pirates in his most recent mock draft, while Baseball America has him falling to the Royals at #5. Getting Cole is the "dream scenario" for the Royals at #5, according to Law. Cole, who was drafted out of high school by the Yankees in '08, boasts a mid-90s fastball, power slider, and above-average changeup. Experts agree he has the ceiling of a number one starter, and Law says Cole "looks like he could pitch in the big leagues tomorrow if he'd sign soon enough to play." He has, however, struggled with his command at times and hasn't delivered results on par with his abilities. Cole is advised by the Boras Corporation. He has been stingy on providing interviews, but MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith spoke to him in March.
Trevor Bauer, UCLA
Law believes the Diamondbacks could consider Bauer at #3 if Danny Hultzen is gone, but projects him going to the Nationals at #6. Law does not expect Bauer to make it past the Indians at #8. BA went with the Nats in their mock draft. Bauer has been worked heavily and has unorthodox workouts and mechanics. He's said by BA to pattern himself after Tim Lincecum. Bauer comes with lots of strikeouts, good velocity, a plus-plus curveball, an above-average changeup, and a few other pitches too. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo spoke to him a few days ago.
Taylor Jungmann, Texas
Law projects the Brewers taking Jungmann at #12, with the Mets an option at #13. BA guesses the Astros will take him at #11. Law says the 6'6" Jungmann sits at 91-93 with a hammer curveball and strong command. A few mild concerns have been raised about his delivery, and Goldstein questions whether he has "star-level upside."
Matt Barnes, Connecticut
Law notes that the Padres have interest at #10, which is BA's choice in their mock draft. Barnes draws praise for his fastball and curveball, while questions remain about his command, mechanics, and secondary stuff.
Alex Meyer, Kentucky
Law names the Athletics at #18, the Red Sox at #19, and the Nationals at #23 as possibilities for Meyer, while BA takes the Angels at #17. The 6'9" righty owns a mid-90s fastball and plus-plus slider, but Goldstein finds his performance inconsistent and all gurus say his command is lacking. There is number one starter upside here, says Law. Meyer, who turned down $2MM from the Red Sox as a 20th round pick out of high school three years ago, is advised by the Boras Corporation.
Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt
Gray could be Arizona's choice at their unprotected #7 spot, says Law, while the Padres could be a fit at #10. He's mentioned the Cubs at #9 previously. BA went with the Brewers at #15. Gray is 5'11", but he pitches at 91-94 with what Law describes as a "knockout breaking ball." The idea has been floated that Gray could end up a late-inning reliever. Talking to Ben Nicholson-Smith in February, Gray said he prefers to start but considers himself versatile and enjoyed his time in the bullpen.