Keith Law writes that the Pirates have narrowed their choices with the top pick in the upcoming 2011 MLB Draft to Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen, UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole, and Kansas high school outfielder Bubba Starling, with an outside shot at Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon.
As we approach the draft, the possibility that this top pick goes bust for the Pirates looms larger and larger. There are serious question marks with every single potential top pick, and no clear indication that the Pirates have settled on someone. Cole hasn’t pitched particularly well this year for UCLA. At this point, Starling looks interesting as a player with tremendous athleticism and almost-unlimited upside, but it’s so easy for that type of high school draftee to go nowhere. Hultzen looks like the surest pick of this quartet, but most experts don’t view him as having the upside that the other three do. Rendon has had injury problems for the past year, and his stock has slowly slipped.
So what do you do if you’re the Pirates? I don’t think I would take Cole – pitchers are uncertain enough without adding ineffectiveness to the mix. I would probably prefer either Rendon or Starling, but I think taking Hultzen or Oklahoma high school pitcher Dylan Bundy might turn out to be defensible if the Pirates aren’t sold on either of the two offensive players.