Posted on: November 2, 2011 9:07 pm
The Gerrit Cole hype will never match the Stephen Strasburg hype.
Unless . . .
Well, the word out of the Arizona Fall League is that Cole, the top pick in the June draft, is everything the Pirates could have hoped for. The buzz is that Cole has . . .
"As live a fastball as I've ever seen, and I'm going back to Nolan Ryan," one veteran scout (who doesn't work for the Pirates) said after returning from Arizona. "The first time I saw him, he was sitting at 100, 101 [mph]. He had a better fastball than Strasburg.
"They knew it was coming, and they still couldn't start fast enough to crank it up. He could have struck out big-league hitters with his fastball that day."
Cole's numbers in Arizona are good, but not stunning. In four games, he has pitched 12 innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits, with three walks and 12 strikeouts.
The scout said that Cole's secondary pitches need work, and that even the velocity on his fastball could be inconsistent. The game after he pitched at 100-101 mph, Cole was throwing his fastball at 95 mph.
"But the life on his fastball was so impressive," the scout said.
The same scout also came away impressed with Danny Hultzen, the Mariners prospect who was taken just behind Cole in the June draft.
As for Bryce Harper, the first pick overall in 2010, the scout said the Nationals shouldn't be counting on him as a major-league difference-maker in 2012.
"He's not that bat they're missing, not yet," the scout said. "He's about a year away. He reminds me of a young J.D. Drew, but he loves to play."
Posted on: June 7, 2011 12:45 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 7:13 pm
After the first round, the baseball draft goes from studio show to conference call.
After the first round, commissioner Bud Selig flies back to Wisconsin. After the first round, you have permission to tune out (if you even tuned in in the first place).
But stay with us for Day 2. At least stay with us for Pick 1 of Day 2, because the Pirates made it interesting.
With the first pick in the second round (via conference call), the Pirates took Josh Bell, the high school outfielder from Dallas who had sent a letter to teams saying he plans to attend the University of Texas and didn't even want to be drafted.
There was talk Monday that if teams honored Bell's request and he got as far as the 33rd pick, the hometown Rangers would take him. But they didn't, going for Georgia high schooler Kevin Matthews instead. That seemed to be an indication that even with their hometown advantage, the Rangers considered Bell unsignable.
Maybe the Pirates know something the Rangers don't. Maybe they're simply gambling on a big talent (Baseball America says Bell had the best power bat of any high-school player in the draft). Or maybe, club president Frank Coonelly (who once worked for MLB and was in charge of screaming at teams for spending too much money in the draft) is now ready to spend big.
Speaking of which, the Nationals seem to again have a big draft budget. After taking three straight Scott Boras clients on Monday night, the Nats made news on Day 2 by taking pitcher Matt Purke from TCU in the third round. Purke is one of the more interesting names in the draft, in part because he agreed to sign with the Rangers for $6 million out of high school (only to have the deal not go through, because MLB had taken over operation of the team from bankrupt owner Tom Hicks). Purke had some shoulder trouble this year, so it's not clear how much money he'll get, but it will no doubt take more than a normal third-round bonus to sign him.
As for the Pirates, they'll already be spending big on first-round pick Gerrit Cole, another player who showed no interest in signing out of high school. The Yankees drafted Cole in the first round three years ago, and he told them he had no interest in even listening to an offer. Cole went on to UCLA, became the first pick overall, and will almost command more money than the Yankees would have offered him out of high school.
Overall, the first-day picks suggest that baseball as a whole could be ready to spend big on draft picks this year. Ken Davidoff of Newsday theorized Tuesday morning that Selig will be more lenient on big bonuses this summer, because baseball strongly hopes that a hard-slotting system is in place before next year's draft. Selig renewed his call for a hard-slot system on Monday night, even though he admitted it needs to be bargained with the players' union.
In any case, the Pirates quickly made sure there was something to talk about on Day 2.
For more draft coverage from CBSSports.com, click here
Posted on: June 6, 2011 7:22 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 10:56 pm
SECAUCUS, N.J. -- We knew this draft would provide some surprises.
We never thought the surprises would start so soon.
After the Pirates opened the draft by picking UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, as expected, the Mariners followed by choosing University of Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen with the second pick.
Hultzen wasn't a pick out of the blue. The Pirates went to the final weekend before deciding between Cole and Hultzen at No. 1.
But in every pre-draft scenario discussed among officials at the draft, the pitching-rich, offense-poor Mariners were going to take Rice University third baseman Anthony Rendon.
"Completely unexpected," Hultzen told MLB Network after the pick was made.
The Diamondbacks followed by taking UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer, also as expected.
Rendon went to the Nationals, with the sixth pick.
At that point, the six players expected to go 1-6 had gone 1-6. In that sense, the draft was going as expected.
But who knew the Mariners would pass on Rendon and take Hultzen?
Other first-round thoughts:
-- The Orioles took high school pitcher Dylan Bundy, who some scouts considered the most talented pitcher in the entire draft.
-- As recently as Sunday, the Royals were expected to stay away from local high school product Bubba Starling, not because they didn't like him but because he has a football scholarship to Nebraska and they weren't convinced he wanted to sign. Eventually, the Royals took Starling, in part because their preferred picks were taken before they drafted. The Royals loved Bundy, and would have liked the college pitchers, too, but with Mike Moustakas on a fast track to the big leagues, they didn't want a college third baseman (Rendon). Kent Babb, a writer for the Kansas City Star, wrote on Twitter that Starling told him two months ago that "it would make it very difficult to go to Nebraska if the Royals picked him." The pressure is now on the Royals to come up with the money to sign him, but it's a good bet that they will.
-- Two picks after Nebraska's next quarterback went to the Royals, Oklahoma's next quarterback went seventh overall when the Diamondbacks used their second first-round pick on Archie Bradley. Bradley is also well-regarded, enough so that there was talk before the draft that the Orioles would take him with the fourth pick.
-- Starling and Bradley are the type of athletes that baseball needs, and also the type of athletes that teams often need to go "above-slot" to sign. With that in mind, I asked commissioner Bud Selig if he worried that the hard-slotting system that he advocates would make it harder to attract the best athletes. Not surprisingly, he insisted that it wouldn't.
-- UCLA became just the second school to have two of the first three picks. Arizona State did it in 1978, with Bob Horner going first overall to the Braves and Hubie Brooks going two picks later to the Mets. Cole is the first UCLA player to go first overall in the June draft. Chris Chambliss went first overall in the January draft, back when there was a January draft.
-- Bundy and Bradley didn't go to school together, but they have worked out together for years. In an interview on MLB Network, Bundy said they were "pretty much brothers."
-- Mets pick Brandon Nimmo is from Wyoming, which made him the first first-round pick ever out of a Wyoming high school. He was only the 13th player ever taken out of a Wyoming high school. The only previous pick in the first 10 rounds was Michael Beaver, taken by the Phillies in the sixth round in 1966. Neither Beaver nor any of the other 11 has played in the big leagues. Thirteen Wyoming-born players have played in the big leagues. Mike Lansing, who had the most at-bats of anyone born in Wyoming, went to Wichita State and was drafted out of college.
-- As advertised, this was a pitcher-heavy draft. The first four picks were all pitchers, for the first time ever. But it also points up another general problem baseball has right now, which is that there aren't enough good young hitters in the game right now. It's one of the reasons that offense is down in the big leagues, and it's one of the things scouts covering the minor leagues talk about.
-- Baseball has improved the visibility of the draft in recent years, almost all for the better. But it probably wasn't a great idea for one of the MLB Network guys to walk to the front of the media section and yell to the fans sitting behind that they should applaud every pick: "Even if it's fake, it looks good on TV."
-- Baseball keeps trying to get more players to attend the draft, but the only player in attendance who was drafted Monday was Larry Greene, a high school outfielder from Georgia who went to the Phillies in the sandwich round (39th overall). Some players are still playing, others are advised by agents not to attend, but Greene was thrilled he made the trip from Nashville, Ga. He said his father and mother convinced him to come. "She got what she wanted," he said. One of the few players to attend the draft in the past was Mike Trout, who was taken 25th overall by the Angels in 2009 and has since become one of the hottest prospects in the game.
-- Sign of the times? A couple of hours after they were both drafted by the Diamondbacks, Bradley (@ArchieBradley7) sent a public Twitter message to Bauer (@BauerOutage): "hit me up man we need to talk lol."
-- Because the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano as a free agent, they didn't have a first-round pick, and didn't pick at all until the sandwich round (51st pick, for losing Javier Vazquez). They took Dante Bichette Jr., the son of the ex-big leaguer. And according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, that's appropriate because Dante Sr. and Yankee manager Joe Girardi were close when they played for the Rockies. Girardi has a son named Dante, and Bichette's youngest son is named Joseph.
For more draft coverage from CBSSports.com, click here
Posted on: June 6, 2011 9:21 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 9:44 pm
The Pirates plan to make hard-throwing UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole the top pick in the draft, a baseball source confirmed to CBSSports.com Monday morning.
Cole, whose fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, finished his junior season with the Bruins with a 6-8 record, a 3.31 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 114 1/3 innings. UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA tournament with a Sunday night loss to UC Irvine.
The Pirates had narrowed their search to three players -- Cole, University of Virginia right-hander Danny Hultzen and Rice University third baseman Anthony Rendon -- before settling on Cole.
Rendon is expected to go to the Mariners with the second pick, and the Diamondbacks will likely take Cole's UCLA teammate Trevor Bauer third. The rest of the first round is harder to call, but Hultzen and high school kids Dylan Bundy and Bubba Starling are widely regarded as three players who should go very quickly after Cole, Rendon and Bauer -- but not necessarily in that order. There has also been talk that the Orioles will take Oklahoma high school pitcher Archie Bradley with the fourth pick.
Assuming that Cole and Bauer go 1-3, and that seemed very likely as of midday Monday, they would be the first teammates drafted that high since 1978, when Arizona State's Bob Horner and Hubie Brooks went first (to the Braves) and third (to the Mets).
Cole was the Yankees' first-round pick in 2008, but refused to even consider an offer, telling them he was determined to go to college. He and Bauer led UCLA to a second-place finish at the College World Series last year (Cole was 11-4 with a 3.37 ERA, with 153 strikeouts in 123 innings), but Cole and the team had a disappointing 2011 season.
Pirates scouting director Greg Smith has a history of success at picking pitchers. He selected Justin Verlander in 2005, when he was the Tigers' scouting director, and last year with the Pirates he chose Jameson Taillon, now regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues.
The draft begins at 7 p.m., and the first round will be shown on the MLB Network.
For more draft coverage from CBSSports.com, click here
Posted on: June 5, 2011 4:38 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 5:04 pm
There's no doubting how important the baseball draft is.
The Giants don't win the World Series if they don't pick Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey in three straight first rounds from 2006-08. The Phillies don't become a powerhouse without taking Pat Burrell, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels in the first round between 1992-2002. The Rays are still losers if not for first-rounders like Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and David Price (and Delmon Young, who brought them Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett).
And the Rangers don't get to the World Series last year if they don't use a 2008 first-round pick on Justin Smoak, who they could turn into Cliff Lee.
Three of the last four American League Most Valuable Players were taken first overall (Alex Rodriguez, Joe Mauer, Josh Hamilton).
The draft is crucial, and for all the talk of how the late rounds matter (yes, Albert Pujols was a 13th-rounder), the fact is that most American-born All-Stars (foreign players aren't draft-eligible) come from the very early picks.
So should you study up for Monday's 2011 version of the draft? Should you make plans to watch the first round on the MLB Network?
No, not unless you're close friends with someone who might get picked.
The truth is that unlike the NBA and NFL drafts, the baseball draft is much more interesting in retrospect than it is the day it happens.
It's great to look back and see how previous drafts went, once we know which picks were great and which were flops. Go ahead and check out C. Trent Rosecrans' rundown of each team's best first-round pick from the last decade, and Matt Snyder's rundown of the worst.
You know the names -- the good ones, anyway.
As for this year's draft, feel free to watch something else on Monday -- maybe Zack Greinke against the Marlins, maybe Matt Kemp vs. Cliff Lee.
But because the draft is important, we'll also give you this draft version of 3 to Watch, as in three things to know, whether you watch or not:
1. Some years, having the top pick is great. It was great the last two years for the Nationals, when Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper were available. It was great the only two times the Mariners had it, because Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez were available. But most drafts have no Strasburg and no A-Rod. And many drafts are like this one, with plenty of debate over the best available player. The Pirates pick first, and there have been conflicting reports on who they'll take. The local paper suggested it would be UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, while highly-respected draft-watcher Jim Callis of Baseball America said University of Virginia right-hander Danny Hultzen. It seems almost certain to be one of the two, even though some scouts think Oklahoma high school pitcher Dylan Bundy will be better than either of them. I'll trust Pirates scouting director Greg Smith, who made the call to take Justin Verlander when he was in the same job with the Tigers.
2. Most scouts seem to believe this is a deep draft, which should benefit the Rays, who have a record 12 picks in the first two rounds. As Rays general manager Andrew Friedman said to the New York Times, "The more arrows you have, the more likely you are to hit the bull's-eye." On the other hand, the Rays' first pick isn't until No. 24 in the first round, in a draft where the top six players seem to have separated themselves from the group (Cole, Hultzen, Bundy, UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and Kansas high school outfielder Bubba Starling).
3. Yes, you read that right. Two UCLA pitchers are expected to go within the first six picks. Before you ask, yes, it has happened before. In 2004, Rice produced three of the top eight picks (all pitchers), with Phil Humber going third to the Mets, Jeff Niemann going fourth to the Rays and Wade Townsend going eighth to the Orioles. And Vanderbilt came close in 2007, when David Price went first overall to the Rays, and Casey Weathers went eighth to the Rockies.