Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell Agree To Terms As Pirates Break Draft Spending Record

The Pirates have the first overall pick in the amateur draft in June.

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2011 MLB Draft: Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell Land In Pirates' Top Five Prospects

Following the signings of Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell and others in the 2011 MLB Draft, I wrote up my new top 30 Pirates prospects last night. Today, the excellent minor-league-focused site Pirates Prospects has a new list of the Bucs' top 10, along with top tens from various contributors.

Cole tops their list, whereas Jameson Taillon topped mine, but at this point, I don't think you can really go wrong with either one. Luis Heredia is third on their list, right behind Cole and Taillon, and I'm not sure I agree with that - not that Heredia isn't a very good prospect, but with guys of the quality of Starling Marte and Bell now in the system, I'm not sure I see the need to rate a 17-year-old pitching prospect so high. Heredia's upside obviously is stratospheric, but he has an incredibly long way to go before he achieves it. Bell and Marte fill out the top five.

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2011 MLB Draft: How Do Gerrit Cole And Josh Bell Fit In The Pirates' System?

The Pirates spent over $17 million in the 2011 MLB Draft, much of it Monday night on top picks Gerrit Cole ($8 million) and Josh Bell ($5 million). Where do those picks fit among the Pirates' top prospects?

I just made a new top 30 list for Bucs Dugout, and what I came up with is that Cole would fit in second, behind Jameson Taillon (last year's No. 2 overall pick). Most analysts would probably put Cole first, but I went with Taillon because of the mechanical problems that led Cole to post subpar statistics at UCLA this year. Cole and Taillon might end up being in the same rotation next year in Bradenton, unless the Pirates decide to be aggressive with Cole and put him at Altoona. So we'll get a chance to compare the two pitchers.

I rank Bell fourth, behind Taillon, Cole and Starling Marte. Marte is also an outfielder, but unless something changes in the next year or two, he's more of a leadoff type; Bell is now the best power prospect in the system. He'll likely begin next season at West Virginia. Because he's coming out of high school, the Pirates probably won't be particularly aggressive with him.

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2011 MLB Draft: Reaction To Pirates Signings Of Gerrit Cole And Josh Bell

The Pirates had a record breaking night Monday into Tuesday morning when they signed their top two picks of June's draft, pitcher Gerrit Cole and outfielder Josh Bell, to contracts worth big bucks. In the hours since, the club has earned high marks for the moves. Here's a round up of the reaction.

Pat Lackey from Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke

Most importantly, remember that while $17 million is a ton of money to spend on one draft and that while the Pirates' system looks much better off with Gerrit Cole and Josh Bell and Clay Holmes and Alex Dickerson in it than it did without them, this is all still just a first step. Really, writing the checks is the easy part compared to keeping pitchers' arms healthy and nuturing high school potential into Major League talent. You can't do that without getting the players first, though, and last night, that's what the Pirates did.

Kris Dunn of Hardball Chat

The Pirates selected two of the best players in the draft, and much to the surprise of many MLB franchises, they signed both of them. Kudos to the Pittsburgh Pirates – Big winners of the 2011 draft.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The early Twitter reviews from the people who follow this stuff were nothing shy of raves, especially from the many who had the very strong sense — and correctly so — that Bell could not be swayed from his commitment to the University of Texas. Remember, Bell at one point sent a letter to MLB’s scouting bureau explicitly asking not to be drafted.

A cynic might say that was a Scott Boras bluff. Even there, though, you would have to give the Pirates credit for being the only team to call it.

Exceptional work by the front office and scouts.

Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects

I’m not going to sit here and say that I knew Josh Bell was going to sign.  However, from day one, I never bought in to the idea that he was an impossible sign, or that he was true with his intentions to go to school no matter the price.  I said it before he was drafted.  I said it after he was drafted.  I said it when he went to summer school.  I said it when sources had him at 60% to sign.  I said it when sources had him at 0-30% to sign.  This wasn’t based off of any inside information.  It was just looking at the situation and thinking logically, rather than taking the "Don’t draft me" at face value.

Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com

After this year, I will never, ever doubt the #pirates ability to sign a draft pick. #mlbdraftless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

 

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated

summary: 1) huge night for #pirates, 20 #dbacks doing great things on field and beyondless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

 

Keith Law

Moderately. Was never really about $ there. RT @Tepheri: @keithlaw Surprised the Pirates landed Josh Bell? Great coup for Pittsburghless than a minute ago via Seesmic Favorite Retweet Reply

 

Yes on the top 4 at least. RT @Jcsteel: @keithlaw Top 5 Pirate Prospects. Cole, Tailion, Bell, Heredia, Marte?less than a minute ago via Seesmic Favorite Retweet Reply

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates Shatter Draft Spending Record

MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch has been all over the numbers of the Gerrit Cole and Josh Bell signings by the Pirates, and, as expected, she now reports the Pirates have broken a record for total draft spending...impressively.

The #Pirates spending $17 million on the Draft is an MLB record. Previous one was close to $12 million (Nationals, 2010)less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

 

This statistic really hammers home just how breathtakingly huge the Pirates' spending binge was this evening. Washington's signings last year, which included big money for prodigy prospect Bryce Harper, were considered shocking at the time. That the Pirates outspent not only the Nationals, but the rest of Major League Baseball by as much as they did would appear to be a huge statement from general manager Neal Huntington to the rest of the game, one which you can probably expect will be one of the biggest baseball stories of the coming week.

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates Set Record In Deal With Gerrit Cole

The Pirates didn't just spend a lot of money to sign first-round pick Gerrit Cole to a minor league deal, they spent record-breaking money. MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch reports Cole's $8 million minor league signing bonus is the biggest in draft history.

That number could get even bigger, too.

In a separate tweet, Langosch reports Cole's deal could be worth over $9 million if he reaches the Major Leagues by 2013. For that reason, it's probably safe to assume the Bucs would like to put Cole on the fast track to Pittsburgh, as Arizona appears to be doing with Cole's teammate at UCLA, Trevor Bauer. Bauer is already at Double-A and reportedly in line to get a call up for the Diamondbacks as they make the stretch run for a National League West pennant in September.

Cole likely won't be with the Pirates quite that soon, but these incentives for him send a pretty loud message from the front office: Gerrit Cole is expected to make an impact, and he's expected to make it soon.

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates Confirm Signings Of Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell

Reports the Pirates have signed first-round pick Gerrit Cole and second-round pick Josh Bell have been confirmed by the club early Tuesday morning via this tweet.

#Pirates sign 1st round selection Gerrit Cole and 2nd round selection Josh Bell. #MLBDraftless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

 

The financials of the moves have yet to be announced, but multiple sources are running with the $8 million for Cole and $5 million for Bell figures. They're also sticking to the $17 million total draft spending number we brought to you earlier here at SB Nation Pittsburgh. MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch reports the Pirates successfully signed a total of 24 of their 50 draft picks. 

We'll keep you posted on reaction to these signings and anything else that might come out in the coming hours. For now, Pirates fans, here's what you've won in Bell.

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2011 MLB Draft: Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell Agree To Terms In Pirates' Wild Draft Binge

According to various tweets, mostly from Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, the Pirates have signed top overall pick Gerrit Cole for $8 million and second-round pick Josh Bell for $5 million. Add in $1.2 million for ninth-round pick Clay Holmes and substantial six-figure bonuses given to several other picks, and the Pirates’ draft will probably amount to something like $17 million, which would probably make it the most expensive draft in baseball history.

In Cole, the Pirates are getting a golden-armed pitcher with the chance to be an ace at the major-league level. He has some mechanical issues to work through, but he and Jameson Taillon should be the Pirates’ top prospects. Cole’s pro career will likely begin next year, probably at Bradenton.

Bell, an outfielder, was one of the top bats in the draft, but fell to the Pirates in the second round after he made it clear that he preferred college ball at the University of Texas to turning pro. Apparently, $5 million was enough to lure him away.

This is a great day for the Pirates – this kind of expenditure on the draft is truly wild.

For more on the Bucs, check out Bucs Dugout.

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates Appear Close To Deals With Clay Holmes, Kody Watts

As expected, there’s still no word on the potential signings of first overall pick Gerrit Cole or second-rounder Josh Bell as the Monday-night deadline to sign 2011 MLB Draft picks approaches Monday night. There is, however, news on two of the Pirates’ higher-upside picks from later in the draft.

Ninth-round pick Clay Holmes, a high school pitcher from Alabama who has a commitment to Auburn, is close to signing, Kendall Rogers reported Sunday night. Also, Tim Williams from PiratesProspects.com writes that the Pirates are having 15th-round pick Kody Watts, also a high-school pitcher, take a physical, which typically indicates that a signing is imminent. These two pitchers will likely command substantial bonuses to lure them away from college, so assuming the Pirates eventually sign at least Cole, it appears they’ll be well on their way to being one of the top-spending teams in the draft yet again.

One player it appears they won’t get is 13th-rounder Brandon Platts, who has a commitment to Missouri. Kendall Rogers reports that the Pirates are unlikely to sign him.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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2011 MLB Draft Signing Deadline Approaches; What About Gerrit Cole?

The deadline to sign 2011 MLB Draft picks is late Monday night, and the Bucs still haven't signed first overall pick Gerrit Cole (or second-round pick Josh Bell).

It should be stressed that it is not unusual for a top draft pick to wait until the last possible moment before signing, especially when the pick is advised by Scott Boras, as both Cole and Bell are. That said, Pirates fans will wait anxiously until Monday night to see what the Pirates end up doing. 

Cole is very likely to sign, since he's never going to get more money than he's going to be offered as the top overall pick. The Pirates will be getting a pitcher with a blazing arm, but with some potential mechanical issues to work out.

I don't think anyone besides Bell and Boras knows for sure about Bell, but I'd lean toward him not signing - the Pirates have surely offered him at least $3 million, and it just seems insane to turn down that kind of money, but most indications have him going to the University of Texas. If he doesn't sign, the Pirates have a bunch of other high-upside draft picks left unsigned, and I would expect them to make late runs at a couple of those players.

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates Agree To Terms With 12th-Round Pick Candon Myles; Gerrit Cole And Josh Bell Await

The Pirates have agreed to terms with 12th-round pick Candon Myles, a fast high school outfielder from Texas. Myles had a college commitment to Howard, so he’s probably going to get a good-sized bonus, as will all the other signings from here on out.

Here’s a list of the players the Pirates have signed so far.

3. Alex Dickerson
4. Colten Brewer
5. Tyler Glasnow
6. Dan Gamache
7. Jake Burnette
8. Jason Creasy
10. Taylor Lewis
12. Candon Myles
18. Josh Poytress
21. Alex Fuselier
22. Michael Jefferson
23. Jordan Cooper
24. Brian Sharp
27. Ryan Hornback
29. Kirk Singer
30. Matthew Benedict
31. Derek Trent
32. David Jagoditsh
33. Chris Lashmet
37. Rodarrick Jones
41. Jonathan Schwind

The two big fish remaining, obviously, are first-overall pick Gerrit Cole and second-round pick Josh Bell. Cole is very likely to sign, whereas the Pirates’ chances of landing Bell are less clear, but neither of them will sign until minutes before the deadline on August 15. There are also several other players who might receive big bonuses, such as 15th-rounder Kody Watts and 17th-rounder Aaron Brown.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Report: Pirates Offer Second-Round Pick Josh Bell Big Money

If the Pirates fail to sign second-round pick Josh Bell, it appears it won't be for a lack of trying. KDKA's Mike Vukovcan, referencing a report on insidepittsburghsports.com, says the Bucs are prepared to offer the University of Texas commit a $4.25 million signing bonus to pass on college and join the organization. For comparison's sake, they paid second round pick Stetson Allie a $2.25 million bonus last year.

Bell is considered by many to be a first-round level talent. He was selected No. 61 overall by Pittsburgh in June's MLB First-Year Player Draft after he sent a letter to Major League teams advising them not to draft him, saying he was committed to the Longhorns. The Pirates selection of Bell is protected, so if he chooses to go to college, the club will be compensated with a commensurate pick in next year's draft.

Nevertheless, you can bet general manager Neal Huntington is itching to get Bell and his big high school numbers into the Pirates' system, where top shelf offensive talent is hard to find. Last year at Jesuit High School in Texas, he hit .538 with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs in 139 plate appearances. He struck out just five times.

With that in mind, it's not at all surprising to hear the Bucs are willing to throw the big bucks at Bell. The only question now is whether they'll be enough to lure him away from Texas.

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2011 MLB Draft: Gerrit Cole Reportedly Wants Stephen Strasburg-Like Money, But Is That Just Posturing?

Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman writes that Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall selection by the Pirates in the 2011 MLB Draft, is looking for a big, big bonus.

There is no sign of any deal yet for the top two draft choices, Gerrit Cole or Danny Hultzen, and both negotiations are expected to go right to the Aug. 15 deadline. Cole, a UCLA rigthander who has hit 102 mph on the gun, is looking to come close to but not match the record $15.067 million bonus Stephen Strasburg received two years ago from the Nationals

There’s a lot of posturing that goes on this time of year, and this is probably simply posturing from Cole’s agent, Scott Boras. It’s hard to believe Cole will turn down, say, $9 million, if that’s all the Pirates are willing to offer. And there’s also the fact that, well, he isn’t Strasburg. Strasburg was probably the best draft pick prospect of all time, or at least the best pitcher. He threw harder than Cole does, and with no obvious mechanical or statistical flaws, whereas Cole has clear flaws.

That said, it will be a big problem for the Pirates if they can’t get Cole under contract. If they didn’t, they would get the second pick in the 2012 draft as compensation, but it’s unclear whether they could find a Cole-level talent in that class.

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates Sign Fifth-Rounder Tyler Glasnow To Huge Bonus

Jim Callis of Baseball America tweets that the Pirates have signed fifth-round pick Tyler Glasnow, an extremely tall, skinny high school pitcher from California, for $600,000. The bonus is the largest any team has given to a player taken lower than the first 65 overall picks. He’ll probably be quite a project, but the Pirates must have liked him a lot to give him so much money to skip college. If he pitches this season, it will probably be in the Gulf Coast league in Florida.

Here are the picks the Pirates have signed so far.

3. Alex Dickerson
4. Colten Brewer
5. Tyler Glasnow
6. Dan Gamache
7. Jake Burnette
8. Jason Creasy
10. Taylor Lewis
18. Josh Poytress
21. Alex Fuselier
22. Michael Jefferson
23. Jordan Cooper
24. Brian Sharp
27. Ryan Hornback
29. Kirk Singer
30. Matthew Benedict
31. Derek Trent
32. David Jagoditsh
33. Chris Lashmet
37. Rodarrick Jones
41. Jonathan Schwind

The Pirates’ first two picks, Gerrit Cole and Josh Bell, remain unsigned, although that is to be expected.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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2011 MLB Draft: Alex Dickerson Signs With Pirates

Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com reports that the Pirates have signed third-round pick Alex Dickerson. Dickerson, a first baseman from Indiana, has lots of power potential and was ranked the No. 37 overall 2011 MLB Draft prospect by MLB.com. He doesn't have a lot of defensive value, but his bat appears to be good enough to make him an excellent pick in the third round. It appears he'll head to State College.

Here are the Pirates' signings so far.

3. Alex Dickerson
4. Colten Brewer
6. Dan Gamache
8. Jason Creasy
10. Taylor Lewis
18. Josh Poytress
21. Alex Fuselier
22. Michael Jefferson
23. Jordan Cooper
24. Brian Sharp
27. Ryan Hornback
29. Kirk Singer
30. Matthew Benedict
31. Derek Trent
32. David Jagoditsh
33. Chris Lashmet
41. Jonathan Schwind

First overall pick Gerrit Cole and second-rounder Josh Bell will almost certainly wait until August to sign, or not. (Cole is very likely to sign; Bell is likely to head to college.) Fifth-rounder Tyler Glasnow, seventh-rounder Jake Burnette, and ninth-rounder Clay Holmes also remain unsigned, as do several late-round picks who have some upside.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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2011 Pirates MLB Draft Signings: Bucs Ink Eighth-Rounder Jason Creasy

The Pirates have signed eighth-round pick Jason Creasy, the team reports. (The tweet also notes the signing of fourth-rounder Colten Brewer, but that news came out a while ago.) Creasy is a high-school pitcher who had a commitment to North Carolina State. He’ll join the Pirates’ innumerable other teen pitchers in a short-season league somewhere, probably the Gulf Coast League.

Here’s the list of players the Pirates have signed so far.

4. Colten Brewer
6. Dan Gamache
8. Jason Creasy
10. Taylor Lewis
18. Josh Poytress
21. Alex Fuselier
22. Michael Jefferson
23. Jordan Cooper
24. Brian Sharp
27. Ryan Hornback
29. Kirk Singer
30. Matthew Benedict
31. Derek Trent
32. David Jagoditsh
33. Chris Lashmet
41. Jonathan Schwind

First-rounder Gerrit Cole, second-rounder Josh Bell and third-rounder Alex Dickerson remain unsigned. At least the first two of those will wait until the last second before the August 15 deadline, and Bell might not sign at all.

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Pirates 2011 Draft Signings: Bucs Sign Josh Poytress, Jordan Cooper

The Pirates have signed three more draft picks: 18th-rounder Josh Poytress, 23rd-rounder Jordan Cooper, and 33rd-rounder Chris Lashmet.

Poytress pitched 79 relatively strong innings for Fresno State this year. He appears to be a prospect, as he was selected out of a good college program as a junior. He will probably head to State College, and we'll see whether the Spikes use him as a starter or as a reliever.

Cooper was a sophomore at the University of Kentucky; the Pirates had drafted him out of high school two years ago. His stats at Kentucky weren't particularly good, but he appears to have some potential as a ground-ball pitcher.

Lashmet was a senior third baseman from Northwestern and is probably not a prospect - he'll fill in at the lower levels wherever the Pirates need him.

4. Colten Brewer
6. Dan Gamache
10. Taylor Lewis
18. Josh Poytress
21. Alex Fuselier
22. Michael Jefferson
23. Jordan Cooper
24. Brian Sharp
29. Kirk Singer
30. Matthew Benedict
31. Derek Trent
32. David Jagoditsh
33. Chris Lashmet
41. Jonathan Schwind

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2011 MLB Draft Signings: Pirates Sign Fourth-Rounder Colten Brewer

The Pirates have agreed to terms with fourth-round 2011 MLB Draft pick Colten Brewer, Pirates Prospects reports.

Brewer is the highest-ranked pick the Pirates have yet signed, but that’s not necessarily a surprise – he seems to have been selected at least in part because he lacked a major college commitment and therefore would not be especially hard to sign. That is, after drafting tough signs like Josh Bell in the second round and lots of pitchers with major college commitments in the later rounds, the Pirates went with some potentially easier-to-sign guys in the fourth through sixth rounds. (Tyler Glasnow, a high school pitcher with a commitment to the University of Portland, was their fifth-round pick; their sixth-round pick, Auburn third baseman Dan Gamache, has already signed.)

Like many of their other 2011 draft picks, Brewer is a tall, projectable pitcher. He’ll probably head to the Gulf Coast League.

Here are the Pirates’ signings so far:

4. Colten Brewer
6. Dan Gamache
10. Taylor Lewis
21. Alex Fuselier
22. Michael Jefferson
24. Brian Sharp
29. Kirk Singer
30. Matthew Benedict
31. Derek Trent
32. David Jagoditsh
41. Jonathan Schwind

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MLB Draft Signings 2011: Pirates Sign Two More Picks

The Pirates have signed two more draft picks, 22nd-rounder Michael Jefferson and 32nd-rounder David Jagoditsh. Both are pitchers.

Jefferson has control issues while pitching in college ball for Louisiana Tech, but this is the second time he’s been drafted (having been picked in 2010 by the New York Mets), which might indicate that scouts view him as having some ability.

Jagoditsh comes from Tucson’s Pima Community College. He’s a huge guy, at 6-foot-7, and the Pirates love tall pitchers. With late-round picks like this, it’s always tough to tell who might turn out to be prospects.

The Bucs have now signed a total of ten draft picks.

6. Dan Gamache
10. Taylor Lewis
21. Alex Fuselier
22. Michael Jefferson
24. Brian Sharp
29. Kirk Singer
30. Matthew Benedict
31. Derek Trent
32. David Jagoditsh
41. Jonathan Schwind

High-profile draft picks, such as first-rounder Gerrit Cole, and college-bound high-school players tend to wait a while to sign, because they have more leverage than late-round college picks do.

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2011 MLB Draft Signings: Pirates Ink 21st-, 41st-Round Picks

Following up on all the Pirates' 2011 MLB Draft signings we've already noted, the Bucs have agreed to terms with a couple more picks in the last 24 hours or so: 22nd-round pick Alex Fuselier, a center fielder, and 41st-rounder Jonathan Schwind, a catcher. Here's the full list of draft picks so far:

6. Dan Gamache 
10. Taylor Lewis 
21. Alex Fuselier 
24. Brian Sharp 
29. Kirk Singer 
30. Matthew Benedict 
31. Derek Trent 
41. Jonathan Schwind

Fuselier apparently will go to State College, while Schwind will head to rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League. I haven't seen any indication that the Pirates think of Fuselier as a prospect, but that's not necessarily surprising - players without a lot of leverage are often the first to sign. Scwind got a $20,000 bonus, and the Pirates will be paying for his last year of school; that's not a large amount, but it's something, so they must like him at least a little. That they sent him to State College indicates that he's a bit of a project.

Lewis, Trent and Singer have already made their debuts for State College, which opened its season on the road against Williamsport Friday night. 

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates' Josh Bell Reportedly Won't Be Signing, Regardless Of Money

ESPN.com's Keith Law tweets that Pirates second-round 2011 MLB Draft pick Josh Bell is unlikely to sign, regardless of how much money the Pirates offer. This isn't totally surprising, since Bell's commitment to the University of Texas was supposed to have been very strong, but it will be very disappointing if it turns out to be the case that he isn't open to signing at all.

I'm told there is no $ figure that would do it. Could change his mind I guess. RT @gobuccos88: what will it take to sign josh bell? 6,7 mil?

Bell did enlist Scott Boras to guide him through the draft process, but it wouldn't be shocking if this were part of some super-sneaky strategy to extract the most money possible. But as it stands now, the Bucs' chances of signing Bell don't look great. That's a shame. I think the Pirates can still pull off a good draft if they get Gerrit Cole, Alex Dickerson and a bunch of their later-round high school pitchers to sign. Also, if Bell doesn't sign, they'll get an extra second-round pick in 2012. But signing Bell really would be the difference between a decent draft and a great one - he was one of the best talents available, and the only reason he fell all the way to the Pirates at No. 61 was his signability issues.

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2011 MLB Draft Signings: Pirates Ink 10th-Rounder Taylor Lewis

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed 10th-round MLB Draft pick Taylor Lewis, Pirates Prospects reports. He will be assigned to the State College Spikes and should receive plenty of time in the outfield. Baseball America ranked Lewis the fifth-best draft prospect in upper New England, for whatever that's worth - the area isn't exactly a baseball hotbed. He's fast and plays strong defense, according to Baseball America, although he has a weak arm. He has some potential with the bat as well.

Lewis is the sixth draft pick the Pirates have signed. Here's the full list:

6. Dan Gamache, 3B, Auburn

10. Taylor Lewis, OF, Maine

24. Brian Sharp, SS, California Baptist

29. Kirk Singer, SS, Long Beach State

30. Matthew Benedict, P, Western Carolina

31. Derek Trent, C, East Tennessee State

All six are college players. Much of the Pirates' draft focused on high school pitching, but many of those players are likely to wait until later in the process to sign. Many of them have college commitments and therefore have more leverage in negotiations than most college players do. Also, the Pirates will undoubtedly treat some of them as backup plans in case they are unable to sign second-round pick Josh Bell.

For more on the Pirates and the draft, check out Bucs Dugout.

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MLB Draft 2011: Pirates Sign Four More Draft Picks

After the news on the signing of sixth-rounder Dan Gamache Sunday, the Pirates have signed four more draft picks: 24th-rounder Brian Sharp, 29th-rounder Kirk Singer, 30th-rounder Matthew Benedict, and 31st-rounder Derek Trent. All four have been assigned to State College.

Of those, the one who looks most likely to be a prospect is Trent, a catcher. The other three will likely be organizational players, which means they will be expected to fill spots in the minor leagues, and if they turn out to be more interesting than that, great. It’s no surprise that these kinds of players would be among the first to sign, since there isn’t much haggling about bonus amounts to be done. Also, Benedict (a pitcher) and Trent were college seniors, and therefore had very little leverage – they could not threaten the Pirates with the possibility of going back to college for a year.

Sharp and Singer are shortstops and will vie for playing time in the State College infield with Jorge Bishop and Walker Gourley.

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates Sign Sixth-Rounder Dan Gamache

The Pirates have made their first signing of the 2011 MLB Draft pick signing period, and it's sixth-rounder Dan Gamache, a third baseman from Auburn. Gamache will get $125,000. Here's Baseball America's writeup on Gamache:

Gamache had a hand injury late in the season that required surgery and ended his year early. He hit just .265 in Southeastern Conference play but has solid athleticism and is willing to take a walk. Gamache has good enough hands and arm strength to stay at third base.

Gamache appears to be strong defensively, but I can't find any scouting reports that think particularly highly of his bat. Coming from a major college program like Auburn, he should be more than good enough to succeed through the Class A level, particularly given his ability to control the strike zone. We'll see how well he does after that. Gamache is likely to be assigned to State College, although Class A West Virginia isn't completely out of the question.

The Pirates will continue to sign draft picks through mid-August, although it's unlikely we'll hear much about first-rounder Gerrit Cole or second-rounder Josh Bell before that time.

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2011 MLB Draft Results: Where Would Top Pirates Picks Gerrit Cole And Josh Bell Rank?

The writers of PiratesProspects.com unanimously rank No. 1 overall 2011 MLB Draft pick Gerrit Cole the best prospect in the Pirates system (assuming he signs, of course). All of them also rank second-round pick Josh Bell between fourth and sixth in the system as well.

It's hard to argue with Cole at No. 1. As a college player, he's further along than 2010 second overall pick Jameson Taillon, even though Taillon, when drafted, was extremely advanced for a high school player. I would probably rank Bell around No. 5 as well - he's miles from the big leagues, but he has tremendous power potential and would be one of the best bats in the system if the Pirates could sign him. My top 10 - again, assuming these guys sign, which obviously assumes quite a lot, in Bell's case - might look like this:

1. Gerrit Cole

2. Jameson Taillon

3. Tony Sanchez

4. Luis Heredia

5. Josh Bell

6. Stetson Allie

7. Starling Marte

8. Rudy Owens

9. Bryan Morris

10. Kyle McPherson 

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2011 MLB Draft Results: Josh Bell Will Be A Tough Sign For Pirates

Jim Callis of Baseball America talks about Pirates second-round draft pick Josh Bell, who is sure to be the Pirates' most-discussed draft pick in the next couple months. Top overall pick Gerrit Cole is a lot more famous, but there are few worries that the Pirates will eventually sign him. There are no such assurances for Bell, who says he wants to attend the University of Texas rather than turning pro.

Ben (Leland Grove): Percent chance Josh Bell becomes a Pirate?

Jim Callis: Pretty small. His mother really wants him to college and he's virtually unsignable. I love the pick, though. Bell is the best high school hitter in the draft and would have been a mid-first-rounder on talent alone. That's much better than you're usually going to get with the 61st overall pick. If you sign him, that's a coup. If you don't, you get the 62nd pick in 2012. I'd take that gamble every time.

That pretty much sums it up. The Bucs took a risk in drafting Bell, but really not much of one, since they'll get another pick next year if Bell doesn't sign. They've also shown they're willing to pay a ton of money if they think a player is worth it - their second-round pick last year, Stetson Allie, got a multimillion-dollar bonus. It doesn't look like Bell will sign with the Pirates, but hey, you never know. 

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MLB Draft 2011: Josh Bell Reportedly Could Have Removed Himself From Draft, But Didn't

Kevin Goldstein's recent Baseball Prospectus podcast has some interesting gossip on Pirates' second-round MLB Draft pick Josh Bell. Bell sent out a letter saying that he did not want to be drafted and that he wanted to head to the University of Texas. If that hadn't happened, he certainly would have been a first-round draft pick.

However, Bell enlisted the help of Scott Boras to guide him through the draft process. And now Goldstein is saying - for whatever it's worth - that Major League Baseball could have removed Bell from the draft altogether, and that Bell's mother said, "Oh no, don't do that."

Take that with a grain of salt for now. This doesn't yet sound like an assertion Goldstein will be willing to stand behind. But it will be interesting to see exactly how signable Bell turns out to be. The Pirates won't be shy about paying out to get him, so we're going to find out how much he really wants to go to college, and whether his stated desire to get an education was just a business ploy.

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2011 MLB Draft Results: 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Picks, Day Three

Here are the results of the Pittsburgh Pirates' 2011 MLB Draft from Day Three, which covered rounds 31 to 50.

31. Derek Trent, East Tennessee State C

32. David Jagoditsh, Pima (AZ community college) P

33. Christopher Lashmet, Northwestern 3B

34. Juan "Hommy" Rosado, Louisiana State - Eunice 1B

35. Reid Mathews, Tennessee HS 2B

36. Isaac Ballou, Marshall CF

37. Rodarrick Jones, Southern LF

38. Douglas Crumlich, UC-Irvine SS

39. Rand Ravnaas, Georgetown LF

40. Raph Rhymes, LSU 2B

41. Jon Schwind, Marist C

42. Nicholas Hibbing, Illinois HS P

43. William Argo, University of Illinois CF

44. Bobby LeCount, Washington State community college 3B

45. Robert Ingram, Yavapai P

46. Jeff Schalk, Illinois HS RF

47. Jordan Deluca, Pennsylvania HS CF

48. Zachary Thompson, Texas HS P

49. Austin White, Arkansas HS 3B

50. Zechariah Lemond, Texas HS P

Once we get to this late point in the draft, most of the players are extremely obscure, and you have to be pretty clever with the Google to find out anything about them, much less hard-to-gauge stuff like which ones the Pirates think are prospects, which ones they're really keen on signing, and which ones are excited about the idea of signing with the Pirates. 

Last year, the Pirates signed eight players from rounds 31 to 50. One of those, 31st-rounder Jason Townsend, now looks like a real prospect, and two more, 41st-rounder Bryton Trepagnier and 49th-rounder Logan Pevny, might one day be prospects, in a lottery-ticket sort of way.

The point is, don't expect too much from this group. The Pirates might regard a few of them - a couple of possible candidates include Hibbing and Schalk - as interesting players if they can be lured away from college baseball scholarships. (Hibbing is committed to Iowa, while Schalk is headed to Alabama-Birmingham.) 

You can see the Pirates' picks through Day Two here.

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MLB Draft 2011: Should Pirates Draftee Josh Bell Turn Down Millions To Go To College?

In the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft on Tuesday, the Pirates selected high school outfielder Josh Bell. Bell was one of the top talents in the draft, but he fell to the Pirates in the second round after making it clear that he wanted to go to the University of Texas and didn't want to be drafted. He did, however, enlist Scott Boras to help him through the draft, which is a bit of a mixed message. 

Either way, the Pirates are sure to offer Bell a multimillion-dollar bonus. He would probably be wise to take it. Tim Williams from Pirates Prospects has a good point about this:

You ultimately go to college to get a good job. We often hear from the signability players the line "college is important". That’s one of the biggest myths there is. College is important to most, but to a certain few it has no value. Bill Gates dropped out of college. Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college after inventing Facebook. These are extremely rare cases of people who obviously didn’t need college to go on and be successful. Bell is in that same position.

If he "only" gets $3 M, that’s enough to set him up for life. According to a report by the US Census Bureau, published in 2010, a bachelor’s degree is worth $2.1 M over the average adult’s working life. You don’t need a college degree to know that $3 M today is worth more than $2.1 M from now until the age of 65.

Well, right. There's also the fact that once Bell gets his multimillion-dollar bonus, he can pay for whatever school will admit him once he's done playing. These notions about the importance of college are adorable and all - as someone with three weird degrees, Bell's stance warms my little heart - but unless you don't care about money, they probably should go out the window when someone's offering you $3 million or $4 million to sign.

For more on the Pirates' draft, check out Bucs Dugout.

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2011 MLB Draft Results: Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Picks

With the first pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates took UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole. Then they grabbed another top talent in Texas high school outfielder Josh Bell in the second round. Their third-round pick, Indiana first baseman Alex Dickerson, was also regarded as a top-50 talent.

The Pirates look at least reasonably likely to sign Cole and Dickerson. Bell will be much trickier, as he's committed to the University of Texas and has said he doesn't want to sign. 

As has been their pattern in the last two drafts, the Pirates took a ton of lottery-ticket high-school pitchers in the middle rounds. If Bell signs, they'll probably only actually sign a handful of these guys. If he doesn't, the Pirates will probably sign a bunch of them. We'll get a better sense on who the really tough-to-sign ones are in the coming weeks, but many have commitments to big college programs.

The success of this draft depends on who ends up signing, of course, but I like it so far - it's a great draft if they can get the first three picks to sign, and it will still be a pretty good one if they can get Cole, Dickerson and a bunch of the middle-round pitchers. They'll get a compensation pick next year if Bell doesn't sign, as well.

Here are the Pittsburgh Pirates' 2011 MLB Draft picks through Day Two.

1. Gerrit Cole, UCLA P

2. Josh Bell, Texas HS OF

3. Alex Dickerson, Indiana University 1B

4. Colten Brewer, Texas HS P

5. Tyler Glasnow, California HS P

6. Dan Gamache, Auburn 3B

7. Jake Burnette, Georgia HS P

8. Jason Creasy, North Carolina HS P

9. Clay Holmes, Alabama HS P

10. Taylor Lewis, University of Maine CF

11. Jo-El Bennett-Lowe, Alabama HS CF

12. Candon Myles, Texas HS CF

13. Brandon Platts, Iowa HS P

14. Jordan Dunatov, Arizona HS OF

15. Kody Watts, Washington State HS P

16. Eric Skoglund, Florida HS P

17. Aaron Brown, California HS RF

18. Josh Poytress, Fresno State P

19. Mike Nunez, Louisiana HS P

20. Trea Turner, Florida HS SS

21. Alex Fuselier, Louisiana-Lafayette CF

22. Michael Jefferson, Louisiana Tech P

23. Jordan Cooper, University of Kentucky P

24. Brian Sharp, California Baptist SS

25. Josh Martin, Samford P

26. Nicholas Flair, Louisiana HS SS

27. Ryan Hornback, San Jacinto College North, C

28. Jeffrey Zazac, Tennessee HS P

29. Kirk Singer, Long Beach SS

30. Matt Benedict, Western Carolina RHP

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Pittsburgh Pirates 2011 MLB Draft Results: As Usual, Bucs Load Up On High School Pitchers

Here’s rundown of the Pirates’ draft picks in rounds five through 10. Once you get past the first couple rounds of the MLB Draft, the players start getting really obscure, and we’ll learn more about them in the coming weeks. But here’s what I can glean in the meantime.

5. Tyler Glasnow, California HS P

6. Dan Gamache, Auburn 3B

7. Jake Burnette, Georgia HS P

8. Jason Creasy, North Carolina HS P

9. Clay Holmes, Alabama HS P

Beginning with their selection of Colten Brewer in the fourth round, the Pirates started going after high school pitchers, as they’ve done after the first couple of rounds in both of their last two drafts. I’m guessing Brewer and Glasnow, a tall, skinny very guy who’s slated to go to the University of Portland next year, will be relatively easy to sign. Sixth-rounder Dan Gamache and 10th-rounder Taylor Lewis are the only college players.

Burnette, Creasy and Holmes all have commitments to bigger programs (Georgia Tech, North Carolina State and Auburn, respectively) and might therefore be tougher to sign. The Pirates have been willing to hand out big bonuses to tall, projectable high-school pitchers in the past, and they probably will be again, but it’s probably likely that they won’t sign all of these players.

The Pirates picked Gerrit Cole in the first round, Josh Bell in the second and Alex Dickerson in the third. See the rest of this storystream for results on those players. At Bucs Dugout, I’m keeping track of the Pirates’ draft picks as they happen.

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Plum's Scott McGough Taken By Los Angeles Dodgers In Fifth Round Of MLB Draft

Plum High School graduate Scott McGough was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Draft.

McGough, a righty pitcher who is now a junior at the University of Oregon, struck out 62 batters in 57.2 innings this year for the Ducks while picking up five saves.

In 2008, the Pirates picked him in the 46th round of the draft, but didn’t sign him. The Pirates had discussions with McGough before this year’s draft, and he was open to being drafted by them again, but the Dodgers got to him first.

McGough has the option of going back to Oregon for another year if he doesn’t get an offer he likes from the Dodgers:

McGough said he is in a good position as a college junior, and he knows that if the situation is not right with the pro team that drafts him, he can opt to return to Oregon for his senior academic year and final season on the diamond in 2012.

“It’s a good position to be in,” he said.

One would think, however, that the promise of fifth-round money will be enough to get him to sign. Congratulations to McGough.

For more on the Dodgers, check out True Blue LA.

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Pirates MLB Draft Picks: Bucs Pick Josh Bell, Alex Dickerson, Colten Brewer

Here are the Pirates’ results in the 2011 MLB Draft so far:

1. Gerrit Cole, P, UCLA
2. Josh Bell, OF, Texas high school
3. Alex Dickerson, 1B, Indiana University
4. Colten Brewer, P, Texas high school

The Pirates’ draft has been a wild one so far – not only will they have to spend a ton of money to sign Cole, but Bell and Dickerson won’t be any picnic either. Bell was ranked as a top-20 player in the draft, but his commitment to the University of Texas is strong. MLB.com ranked Dickerson as a top-50 prospect in the draft.

We already discussed Bell here. Dickerson is a first baseman who doesn’t have a lot of defensive value, but has a big bat. He won the triple crown in the Big Ten conference in 2010.

Brewer is less well-known. He’s a high school pitcher who will head to junior college if he isn’t signed, although he probably will be.

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MLB Draft 2011 Results: Pirates Make Bold Move, Draft Josh Bell In Second Round

The Pirates selected the best overall player still remaining with the first pick on the second day of the 2011 MLB Draft.

The Pirates’ pick, Josh Bell, was ranked the No. 15 overall pick in the draft by Baseball America, but he fell all the way to the Pirates at No. 61 due to concerns that he won’t sign at all. He has a commitment to the University of Texas and sent MLB teams a letter indicating that he was planning on honoring it. He certainly sounds like he’s going to college. However, he did hire Scott Boras as his draft advisor, which suggests he’s at least open to being selected, regardless of what he says.

He won’t be cheap, though. Luckily, if the Pirates’ last three drafts have told us anything, it’s that they won’t shy away from spending big money on guys like this. If Bell won’t sign, they get a similar pick as compensation in next year’s draft.

The Pirates are making a big splash here. This is a bold pick, and if they can sign both Bell and first-overall pick Gerrit Cole, they’re going to spend a ton of money in this draft. Good for them.

For more on the Pirates and the MLB Draft, check out Bucs Dugout.

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2011 MLB Draft: Gerrit Cole Joins Unfortunate Line Of First-Round Pirates Pitchers

I found myself nodding in agreement through Grant Brisbee's writeup on UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole and the struggles the Pirates have had with pitchers they've taken in the first rounds of the MLB Draft.

I and many other Pirates fans wanted Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon instead, but I noted several times before the draft that my interest was based on the relatively good health of his shoulder. Teams had access to medical reports on Rendon; we in the public did not. Judging from the fact that four other teams passed on Rendon before the Nationals took him at No. 6 overall, it appears likely that what those medical reports said was that his shoulder wasn't healthy. Maybe all five teams had some other reason to pass on him; I suppose we'll see.

If Rendon wasn't healthy, though, the Pirates almost had to consider taking a pitcher first overall. The only other position player in the picture was high school outfielder Bubba Starling, who's light years from the big leagues and is arguably at least as risky as most of the top-of-the-first-round pitchers.

The Pirates took Cole - it's not yet clear what led them to do that, but judging from the way Rendon dropped, it's nearly impossible to blame them for it. Cole has tremendous upside.

The problem is that he's a pitcher. And when you pick early in the first round, you want safety in addition to upside. Pitchers get hurt all the time, and their stuff can be here today, gone tomorrow. That's how the Pirates ended up stuck with guys like Bryan Bullington, John Van Benschoten, Bobby Bradley, and all kinds of other first-round pitchers who didn't produce. For every Paul Maholm, you have to deal with a Bullington. 

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates' GM Says Injury Information Not A Factor In Anthony Rendon Snub

Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that the Pirates’ decision to draft Gerrit Cole rather than Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the first overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft wasn’t the result of their perusal of Rendon’s medical records:

#Pirates GM Neal Huntington on Rendon: “There was nothing in Anthony’s [injury] records that changed our willingness to draft him or not.”

Rendon might have been the consensus top talent heading into the draft, but concerns about his injured shoulder hurt his stock, at least among us outsiders. Major-league teams had access to his injury information, and I had assumed that the reason five teams passed on Rendon before the Nationals finally picked him was that his medical reports contained ugly news about his shoulder.

Maybe that’s the case; maybe it isn’t. It could be that the Pirates are trying to avoid creating the impression that Cole would have been lower on their list than Rendon had Rendon not been injured. Then again, it’s also possible that the Pirates wanted Cole all along. In either case, this was a tricky thing for Huntington to say, because he’s opening himself up to a new round of second-guessing if Rendon turns out to be a better player than Cole.

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MLB Draft 2011: Where Does Gerrit Cole Fit In With Pirates?

It’s a big day for the Pirates, who have selected UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft. Leaving aside questions about whether the Pirates should have taken him with that pick (we’ve explored those elsewhere), let’s examine where he might fit in with the Pirates, assuming he signs.

Here’s my most recent list of the Pirates’ top 30 prospects. Once he signs, Cole would fit in at No. 1 or No. 2, depending on how he would compare to Jameson Taillon, the Bucs’ top prospect and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. As you can see from looking at the list, the Pirates have a ton of pitching talent, and Cole only adds to that.

What they don’t have is a lot of hitting talent, and one might ask why the Pirates didn’t select a hitter instead of Cole. The problem, though, is that after Anthony Rendon and perhaps the very risky Bubba Starling, there weren’t any hitters who would have been credible first-overall picks. Rendon fell all the way to the Nationals at No. 6, which indicates that the medical reports on his shoulder weren’t so great.

So the Pirates went for a pitcher. Because it usually takes prospects at least a couple of years to get through the minors, it doesn’t make sense to draft for need in the baseball draft, and if the Bucs believed that Cole was the best overall talent in the MLB Draft, regardless of position, then they were right to take him.

Cole joins a formidable core of young pitching talent that includes not only Taillon, but also Luis Heredia, Stetson Allie and a number of other pitchers who are a on a lower tier but are nonetheless good prospects. Cole, being a Scott Boras client, probably won’t sign in time to pitch this year, but will likely begin 2011 at Class A+ Bradenton or perhaps Class AA Altoona.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Gerrit Cole Not An Automatic Top Overall MLB Draft Pick, But A Logical One Given The Circumstances

John Sickels of SB Nation’s new Baseball Nation hub opines on the Pirates’ selection of UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft:

Cole had an erratic season for the Bruins, going 6-8, 3.31 with a 119/24 K/BB in 114 innings.

But scouts remain entranced with him, focusing on his 95-99 MPH fastball, power slider, and excellent changeup.Despite his inconsistency this spring, his K/BB ratio was outstanding and reflects the excellent gains he made with his command and control in college. Although he showed a volatile personality in high school, he has emerged as a very positive makeup player and scouts have no doubts about his intangibles at this point. He’s also smoothed out his delivery, enhancing his command.

Cole projects as a definite number-one starter in the majors.

I’m not sure what “definite number-one starter” means when applied to a draft pick, but Cole’s upside certainly is that of an ace. At this point, it’s hard to argue too much about the Pirates’ pick. You could say they should have grabbed Anthony Rendon instead, but the fact that five teams passed on Rendon indicates that Rendon’s shoulder isn’t right. You could say that Trevor Bauer (who was selected at No. 3 overall) had better stats, but as Sickels suggests, scouts love Cole, and for an MLB draft pick, it’s not about stats. It’s about talent.

It’s a shame that there wasn’t a lock top draft pick available to the Pirates, but Cole is a very nice consolation prize.

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Anthony Rendon's Fall To The Nationals At No. 6 In 2011 MLB Draft Suggests Pirates Knew What They Were Doing

Many Pirates fans, including this one, wanted the Bucs to select Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the top overall pick. The problem was Rendon’s shoulder – we, the fans, knew that Rendon had an injury, but its severity wasn’t clear. The Pirates and other teams had access to Rendon’s medical information.

Ultimately, the Pirates picked UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole instead. What happened after that suggests that the Pirates weren’t the only team concerned about Rendon’s injuries, as Dejan Kovacevic tweets:

#Pirates concerns about Rendon injuries could not possibly have gotten more validation than what just happened. #MLBDraft

After the Pirates, the Seattle Mariners (who were widely connected to Rendon), Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals all passed on Rendon. Whatever was in those medical reports must have been scary indeed, and Pirates fans should probably let their fascination with Rendon fall by the wayside. Rendon might end up being a star, of course, but the fact that five teams passed on him indicates that the balance of upside and risk wasn’t there for the Pirates to take him first overall. We’ll see whether the pick is a great one, an injury flop, or something in between for the Nationals.

For more on the Nats, check out Federal Baseball. For more on the Pirates, there’s Bucs Dugout.

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Cubs Take Tough-To-Read Prospect Javier Baez In 2011 MLB Draft, While Padres Take Cory Spangenberg

The Cubs became the second straight team to select a high school shortstop (after the Indians’ selection of Francisco Lindor) by picking Javier Baez with the ninth overall selection in the 2011 MLB Draft. Baez isn’t as strong defensively as Lindor is and might not be a shortstop in a few years, but he has offensive potential. He’s a rather controversial prospect, and the Cubs haven’t always had the best record of player development, so if I were a Cubs fan, I might be a little bit concerned that they aren’t the best team to be making a controversial evaluation.

The San Diego Padres, meanwhile, selected junior college hitter Cory Spangenberg with the No. 10 overall pick. Spangenberg looks like he’ll hit, but doesn’t really have a defensive position right now. If he ends up in the outfield, he’ll have to hit a lot to be worthwhile as a prospect. He might be able to do that, however - he has an excellent approach at the plate.

1. Gerrit Cole, Pirates
2. Danny Hultzen, Mariners
3. Trevor Bauer, Diamondbacks
4. Dylan Bundy, Orioles
5. Bubba Starling, Royals
6. Anthony Rendon, Nationals
7. Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks
8. Francisco Lindor, Indians
9. Javier Baez, Cubs
10. Cory Spangenberg, Padres

For more on the Cubs, check out Bleed Cubbie Blue. SB Nation's Padres blog is Gaslamp Ball.

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2011 MLB Draft Picks: Diamondbacks, Indians Go For Projection In Selecting Archie Bradley, Francisco Lindor

After taking Trevor Bauer with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Diamondbacks have selected Oklahoma high school pitcher Archie Bradley at No. 7. Bradley is a tall, projectable high school arm – generally not the sort of player I’d like to take that early in the draft, but Bradley is a good one.

The Indians, meanwhile, have selected high school shortstop Francisco Lindor with the No. 8 overall pick. Lindor is strong defensively and will probably hit for average, but he doesn’t appear likely to hit for much power. At age 17 and with a slender build, he’ll be a project. Still, he was the best middle infield prospect available in the draft.

Here are the MLB Draft results so far:

1. Gerrit Cole, Pirates
2. Danny Hultzen, Mariners
3. Trevor Bauer, Diamondbacks
4. Dylan Bundy, Orioles
5. Bubba Starling, Royals
6. Anthony Rendon, Nationals
7. Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks
8. Francisco Lindor, Indians

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2011 MLB Draft: Neal Huntington Reacts To Pirates' Selection Of Gerrit Cole

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft on Monday and following the selection, Bucs general manager Neal Huntington talked to the MLB Network about the selection.

He said Cole has been on the Pirates radar for a long time, and that given Cole's power and "stuff" it was hard to walk away from selecting him.

The GM then talked more broadly about the challenges or rebuilding the Pirates and what he and his management team are doing to pull the franchise from the depths of 18 consecutive losing seasons.

After that, though, it was back to Cole.

'You see the size, you see the strength, you see the competitor," Huntington said. "You see the 100 mph fastball, the slider, the changeup that all can develop. We've got some work to do but we're excited to get him into the system adding to the group that we've already got."

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Anthony Rendon Falls To Washington Nationals In 2011 MLB Draft

Anthony Rendon has fallen to the Washington Nationals, who have selected him with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft.

Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon was long regarded as the top talent in the 2011 MLB Draft, but his stock fell due to concerns about his health. He has had ankle troubles, but the larger problem is that shoulder issues that have limited him to DH duty at Rice for much of the season. Rendon is supposed to have released medical information about his shoulder to interested teams, but we don't know what that information might be. If his shoulder won't be a long-term issue, he should be a steal - but if not, who knows.

If Rendon were healthy, there would likely be no arguing that he would be the best player available in the draft. He's capable of hitting for high average in the majors, probably with good power also, and he plays excellent defense at third base.

Unfortunately, it appears that he isn't healthy. If he were, there's no way he would have fallen this far. We'll see if the Nationals' selection of him turns out to be a bargain or a bust.

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2011 MLB Draft: Bubba Starling Goes To Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals become the fifth team to pass on Anthony Rendon, as they've selected Bubba Starling with the No. 5 overall pick.

Bubba Starling, a Kansas high school outfielder, has tremendous potential, but also a very low floor. He plays good defense in center field and has good power, which has garnered him comparisons to the Reds' Drew Stubbs, although the hope is that Starling could be even better. Less flatteringly, I've heard him compared to Donavan Tate, the third overall pick in the 2009 Draft, in that he's more of an athlete than a baseball player. Starling will need to work on his swing going forward, which could prove to be a problem. He's also a highly-regarded football recruit at the University of Nebraska and is represented by Scott Boras, so it won't be cheap to sign him.

Some mock drafts had the Royals picking a college arm, but it seemed impossible for me to believe the Royals, an organization that loves tools, would be able to pass on a very toolsy player like Starling, particularly given that Starling is from Kansas.

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2011 MLB Draft Results: Baltimore Orioles Select Dylan Bundy

The Baltimore Orioles have selected Oklahoma high-school pitcher Dylan Bundy with the fourth overall pick. This comes as no surprise, since the Orioles were connected to Bundy in most mock drafts.

Dylan Bundy is the best high school pitching prospect in the draft, and it's no coincidence that he is the first high school player selected. While pitchers of all stripes are very risky, and even the best high school pitching prospects take several years to reach the majors, Bundy is more than worthy of a top-10 pick. He throws in the mid- to high-90s with good movement and has good breaking stuff. He could stand to work on his changeup and he occasionally leaves pitches up in the zone, but that's not unusual with good, hard-throwing high-school pitching prospects, like Jameson Taillon, who was selected No. 2 overall by the Pirates last year.

Four teams have now passed on Anthony Rendon, who until recently appeared to be the top overall talent in the draft. It appears that Rendon's shoulder must be in really bad shape.

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Trevor Bauer Selected Third Overall By Diamondbacks In 2011 MLB Draft

The Diamondbacks have selected Trevor Bauer with the third overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. The Diamondbacks were widely connected to Danny Hultzen with that pick, but the Mariners might have taken the rug out from under the D'Backs by selecting Hultzen with the second overall pick.

Trevor Bauer is the 'other' UCLA pitcher in the the 2011 MLB Draft - he has been widely regarded as a top-ten pick for some time, but he's usually behind his teammate Gerrit Cole on draft boards, despite outperforming him this season.

Of course, college statistics aren't the end-all for draft picks, and there are often players with impressive stats who nonetheless don't make very good draft prospects. The problems with Bauer are that he doesn't throw as hard as Cole, he has racked up wildly high pitch counts (which could make him an injury risk), and he has a violent delivery. Bauer is a very intelligent player with strong ideas about workouts and his mechanics, and he thinks his use of his body in his delivery actually reduces the risk of injury to his arm. But that idea is controversial, and for every Tim Lincecum type of pitcher who does well with a similar delivery, there are others who don't make it.

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2011 MLB Draft Results: Mariners Surprisingly Pick Danny Hultzen

The Seattle Mariners have taken Danny Hultzen with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. The Mariners were widely connected to Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with that pick, which suggests that drafting teams might know something about Rendon's shoulder that we, the fans, don't. 

Hultzen is a lefty pitcher from the University of Virginia, and he's the sort of pick who's hard to ever really feel happy about, if you're a fan. Not that he can't be a good player, but when your team drafts a player, you want to be able to dream about what might happen five years down the road - what if he's the next Albert Pujols? Or C.C. Sabathia?

Well, in Hultzen's case, you can't do that. True, anything can happen, unlike other top pitching prospects, like UCLA's Gerrit Cole or high schooler Dylan Bundy, Hultzen's upside looks like it's probably limited - he has good command as a lefty and is likely to be ready to pitch in the majors soon, but his velocity isn't outstanding. There's nothing wrong with all that, but with a top-five pick in the first round, I would only want to pick someone like Hultzen if I thought my team was going to be back in the playoffs very soon. Generally, you shouldn't draft for need, but if you're willing to sacrifice that much upside with an early-first-round pick, there might as well be a good reason. Look for Hultzen to begin his pro career at the Class A+ or Class AA level and move quickly.

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Gerrit Cole Goes To Pirates With First Overall Pick In 2011 MLB Draft

The Pirates have selected Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. Cole is a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher from UCLA. He throws a blazing fastball (up to 100 MPH or so), a hard slider, and a changeup. He has taken some heat this year for not even outperforming his UCLA teammate Trevor Bauer (who also should be an early-first-round pick), but it's important not to put too much weight into college statistics as a means of evaluating draft picks. It's not that uncommon for a player to be drafted in the first round despite less-than-excellent stats and still do just fine.

Still, the reason Cole has struggled this year has to do with mechanical troubles that have caused him to throw fat pitches at times. It's important to note that all pitchers are risky, which is why drafting a pitcher early in the first round can be a very scary proposition. Not only is Cole a pitcher, but he's a pitcher who will probably require some coaching just to get his mechanics right. 

I had wanted the Pirates to pick Anthony Rendon of Rice, who at least is a hitter. But if Rendon's shoulder isn't sound, then Cole does make some sense. I'm not thrilled about the Pirates' choice, but I do understand it. Once he signs, Pirates fans can begin debating on whether he or Jameson Taillon is the organization's best prospect. He'll add to an enviable collection of pitching talent in the Pirates organization that also includes Taillon, Luis Heredia, and Stetson Allie.

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2011 MLB Draft: Who Is Gerrit Cole?

The Pirates appear very likely to select UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, so here are some links that might tell you a little about Cole before the draft gets started.

-P- The Post-Gazette profiles Cole:

“He sits in that 93-96 range the whole game,” Savage said. “Sometimes, there’s even a spike. He holds his velocity unlike anybody I’ve ever seen. It’s just a special, special arm.”

That also was because some extra effort was removed from his delivery upon leaving high school.

“There’s a flow now. He came to us as an arm that could strike people out. Now, he’s a pitcher.”

-P- MLB.com’s scouting report:

Cole looks and throws like a future ace, with three plus power pitches. His fastball is 92-99 mph and sits comfortably at 95-96 deep into starts. His hard slider comes in at 88-90 mph, and even his changeup is 88-90 mph. In some ways, that’s been the problem — no variation of velocity, allowing good hitters to time him.

As the draft unfolds Monday night, you’re likely to hear a lot about college statistics and how Bauer has worse stats than his teammate Trevor Bauer. You should ignore all that – the important thing here is what kind of big-leaguer Cole can be, not what his stats are right now.

The larger problem is that pitchers are very risky with the top overall pick in the draft. If Anthony Rendon’s shoulder were structurally sound, he would be a great choice with the top overall pick, but teams have medical reports on Rendon that we don’t have, and the Pirates aren’t picking him. There aren’t really any other position players who might reasonably be taken first overall, however, unless you’re a huge fan of Kansas high school outfielder Bubba Starling. If Rendon’s shoulder is going to be a serious problem, then Cole is a good choice, and once he signs, Pirates fans can start arguing about whether he or Jameson Taillon is the team’s best prospect.

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MLB Draft 2011 Prospects: Who Else Might Be Available To Pirates After Gerrit Cole Selection?

John Sickels lists the top 40 2011 MLB Draft prospects at SBNation.com. They're in alphabetical order, regrettably, but there's a note about each of them indicating where they're likely to be selected.

The Pirates, of course, have the top overall pick, and that's very likely to be UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole. They don't pick again until No. 61. It's ridiculous that a team like the Pirates should have to wait for a team like the Rays to pick 143 times in between each Pirates pick. However, after the first and supplemental rounds on Monday, the Pirates' second-round pick is the first one on Tuesday. That gives the Bucs an advantage, because they'll have time to do their due diligence on any players who might have slipped. That's something like what they did last year with Stetson Allie, who was widely regarded as a first round pick. He somehow slipped into the second day, and the Pirates, who picked early on the second day, weren't caught off-guard. So this list will be worth returning to after the first day is over to see who might be left.

Anyway, here's Sickels' note on Cole:

Could go No. 1 overall despite erratic season, with 95-99 MPH heat, power slider, and excellent change. Volatile personality in high school but matured into hard worker with strong makeup. 6-8, 3.31 ERA, 119/24 K/BB in 114 innings. Target: Early first round.

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2011 MLB Draft Order: Pirates To Pick First, Then Rays Pick 700 Times

Here’s the order for the 2011 MLB Draft, which begins Monday. Our heroes, the Pittsburgh Pirates, will pick first, and will likely use the top pick to select UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole. After that comes the Mariners, Diamondbacks, Orioles and Royals.

After that, the Pirates will have to wait for the Tampa Bay Rays to pick approximately 82 times before the Bucs are up again with overall pick No. 61. (They have three first-round picks, then seven compensation-round picks.) Due to Major League Baseball’s absurd method of award compensation picks for departing free agents, the Rays got themselves compensated for ridiculously unimportant free agents like Brad Hawpe, and they’ll now get to fill their farm system with high-upside arms. Good for the Rays for gaming the system, but MLB needs to fix the system so it can’t be so easily gamed.

The Rays, naturally, pick three more times in the second round before the Pirates come up again, but this time, at least, there aren’t any additional comp picks added to the round, so the Bucs’ third selection will be at No. 91.

Here’s the top 10:

1. Pirates

2. Mariners

3. Diamondbacks

4. Orioles

5. Royals

6. Nationals

7. Diamondbacks (compensation for unsigned draft pick)

8. Indians

9. Cubs

10. Padres (compensation for unsigned draft pick)

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates Reportedly Likely To Pick Gerrit Cole

Dejan Kovacevic writes that the Pirates are likely to select UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft.

It’s significant that Kovacevic is writing this, because he’s a lot more likely than any of the draft experts to have a good reason for believing that Cole, and not Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, is the guy - Kovacevic has a ton of sources around the Pirates organization, and he doesn't tend to pass off speculation as real reporting.

It’s possible that the Pirates have reports on Rendon’s shoulder and they simply think he’s too big an injury risk. That’s a totally legitimate reason not to pick him, obviously, and if that’s the case, there’s little I can say about this.

Still, though, this nags at me. I’ve made my preference for Rendon over Cole perfectly clear in probably about two dozen posts here and at Bucs Dugout, and it disappoints me that it now appears unlikely that the Pirates will get Rendon. It will upset me if the Pirates pass on Rendon due to his shoulder, and then the Mariners end up taking him with the No. 2 overall pick.

Oh well. Still, Cole is a heck of a consolation prize – he has struggled at times this year, and his mechanics will probably need to be tweaked a bit, but his stuff suggests he can be an ace in the future, and the Pirates are going to have a heck of a core of young pitching, with Cole added to top prospects Jameson Taillon, Luis Heredia and Stetson Allie.

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MLB Draft Prospects: Anthony Rendon Dealing With Constant Scrutiny

MLB.com has a nice piece on Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and how the upcoming 2011 MLB Draft is affecting him personally. With the explosion of new sources of information about the draft – such as Twitter and websites like this one – the sheer amount of stuff available on the highest-rated prospects is many times what would have been available a decade ago.

“I really stopped myself from trying to see what people are saying about me. I’ve had old coaches saying not to worry about it, and the best thing is to have your family not even worry about that, because it will stress them out even more. That’s what I’ve tried to tell my parents, because they’ll read something about me [and get upset]. I try to tell them, ’Don’t even read about it, don’t worry about it, don’t take it into consideration.’”

That’s good advice. There’s little Rendon can do to change his draft status at this point (assuming he’s already released his medical records), so he stands to gain little from freaking out about what’s going to happen on Monday. And meanwhile, there’s a ton of information out there, but the signal-to-noise ratio on most of what’s being written about the draft is really low. Take all these mock drafts coming out, for example – nobody knows what the Pirates are going to do with the first overall pick. The Pirates aren’t talking. So there really is very little to be gained from some of the guessing certain people are doing. 

Whatever happens, Rendon and other top prospects can expect to continue to deal with the scrutiny. Their minor-league numbers will be combed in the same way their amateur performances currently are. But perhaps the amount of speculation will die down a bit. 

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Another MLB Mock Draft Has Pirates Taking Gerrit Cole

Kevin Goldstein’s mock draft at Baseball Prospectus is the latest to have the Pirates taking Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 overall pick, while the Mariners take Anthony Rendon at No. 2. As I recently wrote on Bucs Dugout, this makes no sense. If Rendon’s shoulder is healthy enough for the Mariners to want him with the second overall pick, he would be just as obvious a choice for the Pirates at No. 1. 

Goldstein and several other people making these mock drafts admit straight-up that they have no idea who the Pirates will pick. So why does everyone expect them to do anything other than take the best player in the draft? And if Rendon’s shoulder is such a huge problem, why don’t the Mariners also pass on him as well? 

As long as the shoulder isn’t a disaster, Rendon is still the best talent in the draft. We have no particular reason to think the Pirates don’t feel that way, and yet nearly every mock draft has them picking Cole. It’s weird, and I hope everyone else is wrong about this. 

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2011 MLB Draft Prospects: Danny Hultzen Reportedly Could Go To Pirates First Overall

Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com writes that Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen could be the Pirates’ pick with the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft on Monday. To which all I can say is no. No no no.

If the Pirates need to draft a pitcher, I would much rather see them take UCLA’s Gerrit Cole or teammate Trevor Bauer, or Oklahoma high school pitcher Dylan Bundy. The problem with Hultzen is that a lot of his value stems from him being nearly major-league-ready right now, and the Pirates really shouldn’t care about that. They need upside, and Hultzen doesn’t seem to be the best candidate for that – he doesn’t throw particularly hard, and few experts think he’ll be an ace in the majors.

As I wrote earlier Friday, the Pirates shouldn’t be drafting a pitcher at all if they can avoid it. But for a team with a farm system that has plenty of depth but lacks top-tier talent, Hultzen would be an especially poor choice.

Fortunately, the Pirates haven’t given much information about who they’re taking, so all of this is speculation right now. We know Pirates general manager Neal Huntington scouted Hultzen, but that’s really about it. I obviously can’t blame the Pirates for doing their due diligence and scouting Hultzen. But actually taking him would be another matter.

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2011 Baseball Mock Draft: MLB.com Has Pirates Selecting Gerrit Cole

MLB.com’s latest mock draft has the Pirates selecting UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole first overall. That pick would greatly disappoint Pirates fans who want the Bucs to pick Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon. The article notes that Rendon should by this point have made information about his injured shoulder available to teams who might draft him. If he’s healthy, or anywhere near it, it’s hard to see the Pirates passing on him, frankly.

Anyway, have Cole at No. 1 and Rendon at No. 2, this mock has the Diamondbacks picking Danny Hultzen and the Orioles taking high school pitcher Dylan Bundy. Both these picks look very likely, at this point. Meanwhile, the Royals take Kansas high school outfielder Bubba Starling, in what would be a good match of organizational preference (the Royals love toolsy players, and Starling is as toolsy as they come) and geography. UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer, who I wrote about yesterday, goes to the Nationals at No. 6.

This all makes sense, but hopefully author Jonathan Mayo is wrong about which order Rendon and Cole will go. Pitchers are risky, and I don’t want the Pirates taking one with the top overall pick unless it’s a ridiculously great prospect like a Stephen Strasburg or a David Price, and Gerrit Cole, who has struggled with his mechanics this year, is neither.

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2011 MLB Draft Prospects: Dylan Bundy Leads High School Pitching Class

The Arizona Republic has a nice feature on top 2011 MLB Draft prospect Dylan Bundy. Bundy would be somewhat of a surprise pick for the Pirates with the No. 1 overall pick, as Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole and Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen all look more likely. But Bundy is the top high school pitcher in the draft, and it seems unlikely that he’ll last past the first four picks.

“I saw Bundy throw,” said a scout with an American League team, “and it was the best-pitched high school game I’ve seen in my 20 years of scouting.”

“The day I saw Bundy,” said an NL scout, “I could tell you it was the best I’ve seen a high school pitcher.”

I don’t think anyone doubts Bundy’s talent. He throws in the high 90s and has very good control. The problem, as always, is that with the first 10 or so picks in the draft, the type of player – whether he’s a hitter or pitcher, whether he’s a high schooler or a college player – is nearly as important as a player’s actual talents. I wouldn’t want the Pirates taking a high school pitcher with the first pick. They flame out too frequently, even when they’re as mature and as talented as Bundy is.

I’m projecting, by the way, that Bundy will go to the Orioles with the fourth overall pick – the Pirates will take Rendon, the Mariners will take Cole, and at No. 3, the Diamondbacks will take Hultzen.

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2011 MLB Draft: Danny Hultzen Reportedly Wants $13 Million

Jim Callis of Baseball America tweets that Danny Hultzen, the University of Virginia lefty who has been mentioned as a candidate to be selected by the Pirates with the first overall pick in the draft, wants $13 million:

Teams told Danny Hultzen's asking price is $13 mil. Before you ask: No, I don't think it will really affect where he goes in the #mlbdraft.

Maybe not, but Hultzen isn't worth anywhere near $13 million as a lefty pitcher with strong command and merely acceptable velocity. He probably knows that and isn't expecting to get anywhere near $13 million, which would be a historic figure. He isn't worthy of the first overall pick regardless, but he definitely isn't worth it if he's going to play hardball. The Pirates should have stayed away from him before this; now it's even clearer that avoiding him is the right call. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon remains the best choice for the Pirates with the first overall pick.

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2011 MLB Draft Board: Anthony Rendon Tops John Sickels' List

Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon tops John Sickels’ list of the top 100 2011 MLB Draft prospects. Note that this isn’t a mock draft, so Sickels isn’t saying the Pirates will necessarily take Rendon with the first overall pick (although I think they should). Rendon is pretty unquestionably the best college hitter in the draft, and would be at the top of nearly everyone’s draft board were it not for multiple ankle and shoulder injuries.

Right behind Rendon is UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer, who seems to be climbing everyone’s draft boards recently. I’ve seen no indication so far that the Pirates are interested in Bauer, and I already wrote about him, so there’s little to say about him except that what you think about his prospect status is a litmus test about how you feel about various hot-button issues for pitching prospects – size (Bauer is relatively small), college stats as a way of evaluating draft prospects (Bauer’s are great this year, much better than fellow highly-touted Bruin Gerrit Cole), workloads (Bauer’s is ridiculous), and delivery (Bauer’s is unconventional).

Following Bauer are Cole, Dylan Bundy, Danny Hultzen, and Bubba Starling.

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MLB Draft 2011 Prospects: Trevor Bauer Vs. Gerrit Cole Debate A Key To Early First Round

Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has a good article on Trevor Bauer, the 'other' UCLA pitcher. I say 'other' because Bauer is pretty likely to be drafted after fellow Bruin hurler Gerrit Cole, even though Bauer has much better numbers. The issues with Bauer are that he's a smaller guy who has posted huge pitch counts (he gets into 125-plus pitch territory fairly often), and he has an unusual, herky-jerky delivery.

Cole, meanwhile, is bigger and throws harder than Bauer, and has a more standard delivery.

Bauer's stature and delivery have earned him comparisons to Tim Lincecum, which is both a compliment and a way of saying that nobody knows what to do with him. Lincecum fell in the draft in part because of the same concerns people have about Bauer, and of course the Giants' selection of Lincecum in the draft looks brilliant now.

Bauer is very bright and very self-aware about his workouts, which might make him less injury-prone than the typical slight college pitcher throwing 125 pitches a game. But if I'm the Pirates, I would just chuck the whole results (Bauer) versus aesthetics (Cole) debate and avoid them both. Sure, either of them could become a big star and make you look silly. But pitchers selected in the early first round have a very poor track record, historically. There's no indication that the Pirates are considering Bauer, but they do appear to be considering Cole, and Bauer will likely come off the board just a few picks later. Let teams with later picks worry about which of the two is going to be the best in the end, and take Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the first pick. 

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2011 MLB Draft: Anthony Rendon's Health Issues Create Uncertainty For Pirates

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times has a nice rundown of the upcoming 2011 MLB Draft. It’s written from the Mariners’ perspective, but much of it applies to the Pirates as well – the Pirates are picking first and the Mariners second, and it’s still not clear what either team is going to do, so they’ve been connected to a lot of the same players.

Then again, the Mariners obviously have a dire need for offense. Then again, Zduriencik said he doesn’t believe in drafting for need, preferring to take the best available player. Then again, there are many who believe the best available player is actually a pitcher named Dylan Bundy out of Owasso High School in Oklahoma. Then again, the Mariners need help quickly, so perhaps they don’t want to take a high school player. Then again, Zduriencik had great luck taking a high school player named Prince Fielder when he ran Milwaukee’s draft. Then again, if you’re willing to take high school players, how about the five-tool outfielder Bubba Starling from Kansas, or the power-hitting, switch-hitting shortstop Francisco Lindor from Florida?

Right. This whole draft feels like a collection of “then again”s. For the Pirates, the obvious choice (and the one I hope they’ll make) is to pick Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon. Then again, Rendon has had serious injuries, and it’s not clear how bad his shoulder issues are, so what about UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole, who has fantastic stuff? Then again, college pitchers are uncertain enough without having to deal with the mechanical troubles Cole has had this year, so how about Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen, who’s polished and ready? Then again, Hultzen doesn’t seem to have the upside of a number of other picks – so how about Oklahoma high schooler Dylan Bundy? Then again, pitchers taken early in the first round have an awful track record, so why not go for toolsy Kansas high school outfielder Bubba Starling?

If the Pirates can get any kind of assurance that Rendon’s shoulder is going to be okay, I’d take him in a heartbeat. If it isn’t, the Bucs plunge into this netherworld of then-agains. That’s not a good place to be when you have the first pick in the draft.

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New 2011 MLB Mock Draft Has Pirates Picking Anthony Rendon, Mariners Picking Gerrit Cole

John Sickels has his latest 2011 MLB Mock Draft, and he has the Pirates going with Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the top overall pick, which I think is the best pick for them.

It's not a sure thing, but I still think it will happen. There may be rumors right up until draft day that the shoulder issue will scare the Pirates off, but in the end I think Rendon is the best overall hitter in the draft and I think the Pirates will agree.

Rendon was widely regarded as the top overall talent in the draft until his stock dropped due to a series of injuries. No one has really stepped up in his place, though, and I think the Pirates probably ought to pick an excellent college hitter who still has plenty of upside, as opposed to a polished lefty pitcher like Virginia's Danny Hultzen, a high-upside college hurler who's had his ups and downs like UCLA's Gerrit Cole, a high-school pitcher like Dylan Bundy, or a toolsy but raw high-school hitter like Bubba Starling.

Speaking of those players, Sickels has Cole going to the Mariners at No. 2, Hultzen going to the Diamondbacks at No. 3, Bundy going to the Orioles at No. 4 and Georgia Tech pitcher Jed Bradley to the Royals at No. 5. The Pirates and Mariners are both still wild cards, so it's hard to predict what the other teams will do, but Hultzen to the Diamondbacks and Bundy to the Orioles both seem pretty likely.

Sickels has Starling falling to the Cubs at No. 9. I find it hard to believe that a tools-obsessed Royals organization would pass on the toolsiest player in the draft, particularly given that Starling is from Kansas. But Sickels, who is also from Kansas, probably has a better idea of that sort of thing than I do.

Other interesting picks here include Kentucky pitcher Alex Meyer to the Diamondbacks at No. 7 (yes, they have two picks in the first round) and high school shortstop Francisco Lindor to the Angels at No. 17. I think that's the highest I've seen Meyer, but he's been climbing draft boards recently. As for Lindor, I'd be very surprised if the top shortstop in the draft lasted that long.

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2011 MLB Draft: Danny Hultzen The Allegedly 'Safe' Choice For Pirates

Bucs Dugout user Lino Donoso has a good writeup on Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen, who could be the Pirates’ pick with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 MLB Draft. Hultzen pitched on Sunday against Florida State, and the radar gun had him working his fastball in the high 80s. Hultzen is seen as very polished and likely to reach the major leagues quickly, but I’m not sure I want the Pirates using the first overall pick on a college lefty who doesn’t have outstanding velocity.

The reason Hultzen is in consideration in the first place is that two higher-upside picks, Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole, have struggled to maintain their draft status this year. While Hultzen appears to be a surer bet than Cole is, it’s worth pointing out that no pitcher is a sure bet – even Stephen Strasburg, who was miles better than either Cole or Hultzen, went down Tommy John surgery last year. And the Pirates should use the first overall pick on someone with tons of upside. Hultzen might someday become a very good major-league starter, but it’s hard to see him being dominating.

Here's a more positive report on Hultzen from Scouting The Sally.

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MLB Draft 2011 Prospects: Mariners GM Asks Why Anthony Rendon Doesn't Release Medical History

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes that, whereas Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole were once the clear-cut top two picks in the upcoming MLB Draft, they aren't anymore. The Pirates haven't given much indication of who they're taking (whether it will be one of those two guys, or Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen, or Oklahoma high school hurler Dylan Bundy, or Kansas high school outfielder Bubba Starling), and neither have the Mariners, who pick second. 

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik does, however, ask why Rendon doesn't simply release his medical records:

"You have to basically work through the agent," Zduriencik said of the medical records. "A player has to grant permission, and the agent is in the middle of that. A lot is at stake for them, too.

"If a player has a chance to go very high, it makes sense, if they feel very good about their medical history, why not release it? Disclose it. It could benefit the player. If you don't get (the medical history), for whatever reason, you might have to ask why."

In case it weren't clear, he is talking about Rendon. Rendon's injury issues are the main factor keeping him from being the consensus top pick in the draft. If he had information that showed that his ankle and shoulder were fine, or were likely to soon be fine, releasing it might well make him more money. In that case, however, I'm sure the Pirates would probably select him before the Mariners had a chance to.

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2011 MLB Draft: Dylan Bundy Tops High School Pitching Class

Unsurprisingly, Jonathan Mayo names Oklahoma hurler Dylan Bundy as the top high-school arm in the 2011 MLB Draft class.

The top high school arm in the Draft, some claim he's the best pitcher, period, in this class. With a good feel for pitching and three above-average to plus offerings, he's got the ability to front a rotation in the future. There's been talk of a high price tag, but that shouldn't dissuade a team near the top of the Draft from taking him.

Bundy's name could be one that Pirates fans hear more as the draft approaches, but I wouldn't bet on him being the Pirates' selection with the first overall pick. All general managers know that selecting a high-school arm at the top of the first round is risky. True, the Bucs did pick Jameson Taillon with the second overall pick in the 2010 draft, but while Bundy is clearly a top talent, I haven't seen much indication that he's in the same class as Taillon was. Still, he's worth keeping in mind as a possible pick if the Pirates can't settle on one of Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole or Danny Hultzen.

Mayo also notes that this draft class contains a ton of high-school pitching talent. That's great for a team like the Rays, who have 12 picks in the first few rounds - the trick with high-school pitching prospects is to fix the odds by picking them in great quantity. For the Pirates, one potential strategy would be to take Rendon, Cole or Hultzen with their first-overall pick, then grab a high-school arm in the second round. The guys at the end of Mayo's list might be possible targets.

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates Reportedly Have 'No Front-Runner' With First Overall Pick

Dejan Kovacevic tweets that there’s “no front-runner” for the Pittsburgh Pirates with the first overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft.

Anyone trying to figure out #Pirates favorite for No. 1 in #MLBDraft is wasting time. They’re open to top 3-4 guys, with no front-runner.

Those three to four guys almost certainly include Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole and Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen, perhaps along with Kansas high school outfielder Bubba Starling and Oklahoma high school pitcher Dylan Bundy.

Essentially, it’s an awful year to have the first overall pick in the draft. If this were the NFL, the Pirates might be trying to trade the pick right now, since there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference, from the perspective of the value of the pick, between the No. 1 overall pick and No. 3. If only Rendon’s health were assured, the pick would be easy, but alas, it isn’t. If only Cole had pitched well recently, the pick would probably be pretty easy, but alas, he didn’t.

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MLB Draft 2011 Prospects: Bubba Starling Plans To Go To Nebraska In July, But That Doesn't Mean He Won't Sign After Being Drafted

Bubba Starling, a high-school outfielder from Kansas and a top football/baseball recruit at the University Of Nebraska, says he plans to start classes in Lincoln in July. But don't take that to mean he won't be signing with whichever baseball team picks him in the MLB Draft.

"I'm coming up there July 10th," Starling said.

Such an arrival date would be in time for the Husker football recruit to enroll in UNL's second session of summer classes, which begin the following day.

Starling is represented by Scott Boras and he's a very-highly-prized recruit at Nebraska, so you can expect him to drive a hard bargain with whichever team selects him. Still, he's a good bet to sign - he'll probably get around $5 million as one of the top five draftees in the country, and that's an opportunity that will be really hard to turn down.

Could the Pittsburgh Pirates take him with the first overall pick? Perhaps. In a different season, Starling, who's extremely athletic but raw, might not get much consideration with the first overall pick. But since most of the other top picks (Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole) come with major question marks, Starling looks like a possibility. Here's a good scouting report. He has a big body, good speed, and tons of hitting potential, but he has a long way to go before turning those tools into major-league-caliber skills.

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2011 MLB Draft: Law: Pirates Could Take Danny Hultzen, Bubba Starling Or Gerrit Cole

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.

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2011 MLB Draft Prospects: Baseball America Ranks Anthony Rendon No. 1

Baseball America has a new list of the top 200 draft prospects. Here are the top five:

1. Anthony Rendon, Rice 3B
2. Dylan Bundy, Oklahoma HS P
3. Gerrit Cole, UCLA P
4. Danny Hultzen, Virginia P
5. Trevor Bauer, UCLA P

The only minor surprise here is Bundy ahead of Cole, but both are top-five players in any case. It’s nice to see that Baseball America still has faith in Rendon, because, all other things being equal, I would much rather see the Pirates take a position player with the top overall pick – pitchers are very risky. Rendon has struggled with injuries himself this season.

Anyway, the other guys on this list who the Pirates could even conceivably take in the first round are Kansas high school outfielder Bubba Starling (No. 6) and Oklahoma high school pitcher Archie Bradley (No. 9). The rest of the list certainly could prove to be relevant to Pirates fans in the second and third rounds, but projecting who the Bucs might take with those picks is a fool’s errand right now. Keep it bookmarked.

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MLB Draft 2011 Prospects: Dylan Bundy Could Get $7 Million; Danny Hultzen Moving Up

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated has a couple notes on the upcoming 2011 MLB Draft, in which the Pirates have the first overall selection. He quotes a couple folks around the game saying that Oklahoma high school pitcher Dylan Bundy's $30 million demands are ridiculous, but notes that Bundy could get $6-7 million, which would still be a pretty serious chunk of change. Bundy has been connected to the Pirates, but is probably a less likely selection than Rice's Anthony Rendon, UCLA's Gerrit Cole or Virginia's Danny Hultzen.

Speaking of Hultzen, Heyman notes that he's "moving up in the draft." He has widely been seen as a top-five overall pick for the past several weeks, and it's tough to move up much from that, but Hultzen is certainly someone who could benefit from the uncertainties associated with Rendon (injuries), Cole (bouts of ineffectiveness) and Bundy (high school pitcher). The closer we get to the draft without there being a clear-cut No. 1 pick, the more attractive someone like Hultzen probably looks. 

Here's a good profile of Hultzen.

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates Reportedly Still Fixated on Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole With Top Pick

Dejan Kovacevic writes that in spite of the recent buzz about Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen and Oklahoma high school pitcher Dylan Bundy, the Pirates are still focused on Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole as possible selections with the top overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft.

Now, I know from conversations as well as precedent that the Pirates genuinely do not have their minds made up at this point. Their approach is to take things to their big draft meetings — which are next week in Bradenton — and have it out there, with all the information, computers and everything else. Neal Huntington encourages open debate with these kinds of things.

I also know that the only thing motivating the Pirates with this pick will be getting the best talent. They are placing zero priority on how quickly the kid arrives, what position he plays or anything like that.

Well, good – as I wrote a few days ago, the Pirates shouldn’t be drafting for need. I hope the player will be Rendon, though – pitchers, whether of the high school or college variety, are scary and never particularly ‘safe,’ no matter how sure they might seem. Rendon has injury issues of his own, but I hope the Pirates will take Cole or another pitcher only if Rendon’s injury problems are truly worrisome or if they feel Cole is just too great a talent to pass up.

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MLB Draft 2011: Tampa Bay Rays, Loaded With Draft Picks, Licking Their Chops

Bill Chastain at MLB.com looks at the upcoming 2011 MLB Draft through the eyes of the Tampa Bay Rays, who have 12 of the first 89 picks and will pick 10 times before the Pirates will make their second selection of the draft.

Now, if you're a Pirates fan, you may read this and wonder, "Why would a team like the Rays, which won 96 games and came in first in the toughest division in baseball last year, have 10 picks before the Pirates, who lost 105 games, had two?"

There is, frankly, no good answer for that. There's a system of compensation in place in which teams receive draft picks whenever they offer arbitration to a departing free agent, and that free agent signs elsewhere. There's some logic to the system when you're talking about a player like Carl Crawford, who was drafted and developed into a star by the Rays. When a player like that signs with the Red Sox, the Rays should get something in return, and they did, picking up the No. 24 overall pick from the Red Sox and also grabbing the No. 41 overall pick.

However, the Rays' bounty of picks also includes the No. 52 overall pick, which they got when they lost Brad Hawpe, who was drafted and developed by the Rockies and had all of 39 career at bats with the Rays. It includes the No. 59 overall pick, which they got for losing Randy Choate, a mediocre reliever who pitched less than two full seasons in Tampa. They also picked up the No. 60 overall pick for the departure of Chad Qualls, who had 27 appearances and a 5.57 ERA in his illustrious Rays career.

This makes no sense. When truly bad teams - the kind who need the extra draft picks - have players like Choate, they have the option to trade them to contenders in July. And then, of course, the contenders pick up the draft picks for them. Why should a team like the Rays be compensated for losing someone like Choate or Qualls? These players were not developed by the Rays, nor is it likely that anyone in the Rays organization ever viewed them as anything more than complementary pieces.

The Pirates have the No. 1 overall pick, and that's great. But meanwhile, an already-stacked Rays team will get to gorge itself on all the live arms it wants in a draft that's loaded with pitching. That's stupid, and it's a policy Major League Baseball needs to change.

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MLB Draft 2011 Prospects: Why Is Dylan Bundy Asking So Much?

It recently came out that Oklahoma high school pitcher Dylan Bundy, one of the top choices in the 2011 MLB Draft and a possible (though unlikely) pick for the Pirates at No. 1 overall, was asking for a six-year deal worth $30 million.

There's no possible way he's going to get anywhere near that kind of money - Stephen Strasburg, perhaps the best draft prospect of all time, only got about $15 million - so why did Bundy ask for it? Jim Callis of Baseball America explains:

Draftees don't get paid what the consensus says they're worth. They get paid what the team that selects them believes they're worth, and they often get selected by the club that values them the most. Setting an exorbitant asking price is one way to try to make sure Bundy and [Archie] Bradley fall to that team.

So where does Bundy want to go? It's unclear at this point. Late this week, a report made the rounds on the internet that Bundy didn't want to go to the Pirates or Royals due to those teams' policies regarding long toss. But most aspects of that report were quickly refuted elsewhere, so it probably wouldn't be wise to expect it to hold up when draft day comes.

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2011 MLB Mock Draft: Jonathan Mayo Predicts Pirates Will Select Gerrit Cole

Jonathan Mayo’s new MLB Mock Draft has the Pittsburgh Pirates taking UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick. This comes as no surprise coming from Mayo, who recently ranked Cole the No. 1 overall prospect in the draft.

There are questions regarding his recent performance, but the power stuff is still there, and he’s got a good track record. The Pirates are still looking at Anthony Rendon and Danny Hultzen in the college ranks, as well as discussing high schoolers Dylan Bundy, Bubba Starling and perhaps even Archie Bradley.

You can read plenty about Cole elsewhere in this storystream, but Bradley is a new addition to the list of potential first-overall picks. Here’s Mayo’s writeup on him, from his MLB Draft database. Bradley is a projectable high-school arm from Oklahoma who sounds like exactly the sort of player I would want my team to take in the middle or end of the first round. But with the first overall pick? No thanks. I’d much rather have either Cole or a hitter, like Anthony Rendon or Bubba Starling. Mayo ranked Bradley the No. 12 prospect in the draft a few days ago.

Mayo has Dylan Bundy going at No. 2 to the Mariners, Danny Hultzen going at No. 3 to the Diamondbacks, and Rendon going at No. 4 to the Orioles.

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MLB Draft 2011 Prospects: Dylan Bundy Reportedly Tells Pirates No

Top 2011 MLB Draft prospect Dylan Bundy has apparently artificially raised his asking price in order to scare off teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates (who draft No. 1 overall) and the Kansas City Royals, due to those teams' stance on long toss, in which pitchers try to build arm strength by arcing the ball over long distances.

Bundy and [fellow top draft prospect Trevor] Bauer swear by the supposed benefits of long toss – increased arm strength, bigger radar-gun readings and a greater ability to throw more pitches – and worry that if a franchise cuts them off from long toss, it could lead to diminished velocity and injuries, the sources said.

Despite a spate of injuries last year, the Pirates' development program has mostly done a good job recently getting players through the minors and on to the big leagues. But if Bundy wants to have different asking prices for different leagues, I suppose that's his right. He's the top high school pitching prospect in this year's draft class, but I'm just as happy that the Pirates apparently won't be taking him - high school pitchers are extremely risky with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The only way this could become an issue with the Pirates is if other pitchers stop wanting to sign with the Bucs for the same reasons.

UPDATE: Jonathan Mayo, who is a lot closer to the draft than the author of the Yahoo! piece is, says the Pirates and Royals have not heard anything about Bundy's concerns.

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2011 MLB Draft: Don't Underestimate Danny Hultzen

Scouting The Sally has a glowing report on Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen, who appears to be among a handful of players the Pirates are considering taking with the first overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft.

The background here is that a number of observers consider Hultzen to be a lower-upside pick than other players, such as Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, Dylan Bundy or Bubba Starling. But Scouting The Sally says that’s nonsense.

What I witnessed was a unique (in the best of ways) pitching prospect with plus velocity from the left side and quite possibly the best changeup I’ve ever scouted. In the two plus years of Scouting the Sally, top pitchers scouted include Julio Teheran, Tyler Matzek, Mike Minor, Manny Banuelos, Zack Wheeler, Jed Bradley and Arodys Vizcaino. In terms of present stuff, Hultzen was the best of the bunch, and it may not even be that close.

There’s a lot more there, but essentially, STS feels that folks might be quick to categorize Hultzen as a safe, low-upside pick because he threw 88-91 MPH last year. He throws harder now, and STS thinks that could make him a good-to-great ground ball starter in the majors, along the lines of Jaime Garcia.

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MLB Draft 2011 Prospects: Pirates Shouldn't Draft For Need

Bob Smizik of the Post-Gazette argues that the Pirates should pick a college hitter with the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft because the Bucs need a player to help in the major leagues sooner rather than later, and because the Pirates already have good pitching prospects.

As a general draft philosophy, this is, like nearly every idea Smizik has had in the past decade, reactionary and silly. With the first overall pick in the draft, you don't draft for need, and you don't draft a player because you think he'll be close to the majors. You draft the best overall player.

I do agree that the Pirates need to at least strongly consider taking a position player - not because the Pirates already have a lot of good young pitchers, as Smizik suggests, but because the last dozen or so years of draft history strongly indicates that teams overrate pitchers, of both the high school and college varieties, early in the first round. The high schoolers are risky works in progress, and the college guys have often been overworked.

I agree with the first part of Smizik's conclusion, which is that Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is the right pick. But Smizik goes on to say that if Rendon turns out not to be the guy (and he might not be, since he has had a number of injury issues this year), the Bucs should draft a college hitter. This is, frankly, crazy. The crop of college hitters is very thin behind Rendon - Rendon is, for example, the only college hitter in the top 10 of MLB.com's list of the top 50 draft prospects. If the Bucs reach that much for George Springer or Mikie Mahtook or Kolten Wong or whoever, that will be a terrible use of the top overall pick.

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2011 MLB Draft: Gerrit Cole Ranked No. 1 Prospect At MLB.com

MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo ranks UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole the No. 1 prospect in the 2011 MLB Draft in a new database at MLB.com. The database contains scouting reports of the top 50 draft prospects and reports on the top 10 prospects already with each organization. There’s video of a lot of these players at all.

This isn’t a mock draft, so Mayo isn’t predicting here that the Pirates will take Cole with the No. 1 overall pick. However, he’s certainly a possibility – Cole is one of the main names that has come up in connection with the Pirates, along with Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen and Oklahoma high school pitcher Dylan Bundy.

Cole and Rendon looked like the obvious top players in the draft just a couple of months ago, but both have seen their stock slip a bit since then. Here’s Mayo’s explanation for Cole’s recent struggles:

Cole looks and throws like a future ace, with three plus power pitches. His fastball is 92-99 mph and sits comfortably at 95-96 deep into starts. His hard slider comes in at 88-90 mph, and even his changeup is 88-90 mph. In some ways, that’s been the problem — no variation of velocity, allowing good hitters to time him.

During a stretch when he was getting hit, despite his stuff looking just fine, he was opening his front side so his release point was right down the middle, meaning his stuff was catching too much of the plate. It was coming in flat, with a lack of deception. His control is fine — he doesn’t hurt himself with walks — but his command within the zone is what really hurt him during that stretch.

If the problem is mostly mechanical, that might be something the Pirates feel they can fix. Drafting college pitchers is a much riskier proposition that it might initially appear, however, and given that Cole already has issues, the Pirates might decide to look elsewhere.

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2011 MLB Mock Draft Has Pirates Taking Danny Hultzen No. 1 Overall

Keith Law's new MLB mock draft (it's insider-only, but you can check out a synopsis at MLB Trade Rumors) has the Pirates taking Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen at No. 1 overall.

This would be very surprising to me. College pitchers have a reputation for being "safe" picks, but the track record of college pitchers selected at the beginning of the first round has actually been horrible, and the Pirates, who were burned by Bryan Bullington as the first overall pick in the 2002 draft, should know that as well as anyone. If they are going to take a college pitcher, I would think UCLA's Gerrit Cole would be more likely, but Cole's stock has slipped in recent weeks.

That leaves Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and a few other less likely picks, like high school pitcher Dylan Bundy. Assuming Rendon checks out medically (and he might not), I would go with him.

The closer we get to the draft, the less certain things look for the Pirates. That's not good - it would be far better to have an Alex Rodriguez or Ken Griffey Jr. or Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper kind of situation where there's an obvious No. 1 pick.

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2011 MLB Draft: Dylan Bundy Rumored To Be Among Pirates' Candidates At No. 1 Overall

Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets that the Pirates could be considering Oklahoma high school pitcher Dylan Bundy with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. (Other prospects who have been connected to the Pirates at first overall include Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole, and Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen.)

Just got a call after leaving Milwaukee from someone I trust who says #pirates seriously considering Dylan Bundy w/ top pick.

There's already a good comment thread up at Bucs Dugout about Bundy. There's also a good article about Bundy up here:

This season, Dylan has been clocked at 100 four times in one game. He’s averaging just above 95 mph a game. The first fastball — and second pitch of the game — against Edmond North on April 16 broke the magic threshold. The twist is that one Major League scout charting Bundy erroneously jotted down the first pitch was a fastball, clocked at 89. A former Owasso player, who tapped the scout on the shoulder to let him know that the first pitch was actually Bundy’s cutter, corrected him.

The concern with all pitchers drafted early in the first round is that they'll get injured or become ineffective before making an impact in the big leagues, as this recent Bucs Dugout fanpost makes clear. The Pirates know that, so my guess is that Rendon is still the odds-on favorite. But he has injury problems of his own, so I wouldn't rule out Bundy, Cole or Hultzen at this point. Other names could easily enter the fray as well.

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2011 MLB Draft: Could Gerrit Cole Fall To Royals At No. 5?

ESPN's Keith Law writes that the Pirates are considering a variety of players with the top overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, and that if they don't end up selecting UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole, he could fall as far as the No. 5 overall pick, which is held by the Royals:

Jack (DC): Any sense that G.Cole falls out of the top 3?

Klaw (1:16 PM): Possible. If the Pirates don't take him at 1 - I know Huntington has seen him more than once, but they're looking at other options including Rendon and Hultzen - I think Cole goes 5 to KC.

There are a couple interesting dimensions to Law's answer. The first is in his guess about who Neal Huntington and the Pirates might select. In addition to Cole, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen, the Pirates could be considering other options as well.

Rendon, by the way, is probably still the favorite, followed by Cole. Other players - Hultzen, Kansas high school outfielder Bubba Starling - seem to linger far behind, based on everything I've read so far.

The second interesting idea is that Cole could fall that far. Rendon and Cole are widely regarded as the top overall talents in the draft, and many commentators think that the Mariners, with the No. 2 overall pick, will simply take the guy the Pirates pass on. We'll see whether that happens.

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2011 Baseball Draft: Could Bubba Starling Be An Option For Pirates At No.1 Overall?

The Arizona Republic has a good feature on top draft prospect and Kansas high school CF Bubba Starling, who John Sickels has going to the Kansas City Royals with the No. 5 overall pick in June's 2011 MLB Draft. Of all the players in the draft, Starling is the most impressive athlete.

They say he hits 500-foot home runs and throws 95 mph. That he almost throws runners out at first base on singles to center field. That he throws a football 50 yards from his knees.

"Everything you've read about him as a kid and an athlete, those haven't been exaggerations," Gardner Edgerton High baseball coach Jerald Van Rheen said.

So might Starling be an option for the Pirates with the No. 1 overall pick? Possibly, and it's worth keeping an eye on. But while Starling's upside is stratospheric, he's a long way from realizing it - he will likely have a bunch of work to do in the minors before reaching the majors. (There's also the fact that he's also a star football quarterback and the top recruit at the University of Nebraska, although it seems likely that the money that goes with being the top overall pick in the baseball draft would be enough to lure him away from the gridiron.)

Two players ahead of Starling, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole, possess considerable upside themselves and don't really have Starling's bust potential. Still, Rendon and Cole both come with question marks - Rendon has had a number of injuries recently, and Cole has struggled at times this year. I've never heard Starling connected to the Pirates specifically, but it could happen if Rendon and Cole falter.

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2011 MLB Mock Draft: John Sickels Has Pirates Picking Anthony Rendon

And so it begins. Minor League Ball’s John Sickels has his first MLB Mock Draft of the year. He has the Pirates selecting Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the first overall pick:

Rendon or [Gerrit] Cole? Rendon or Cole? Both have some question-marks sneaking into their profiles, but for today we’ll assume that the medical reviews of Rendon’s shoulder turn out OK.

It’s strange – compared to the many NFL mock drafts we wrote about in the past couple months, it looks like MLB mock drafts will be a lot less interesting. The Steelers picked No. 31 overall, so there were a ton of possible scenarios, and thus a ton of possible outcomes. The Pirates, however, are picking No. 1 overall, and their decision is likely to come down to one of two guys, Rendon or Cole. It just depends on which they like better, and perhaps whether they think the risk associated with Cole, the pitcher, is worth it.

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2011 MLB Draft: Pirates Could Pick Players Besides Anthony Rendon Or Gerrit Cole

Colin Dunlap of the Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates will consider players other than Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole with the top pick in the 2011 MLB Draft:

"It is not unanimous, I can tell you that," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Greg Smith is our scouting director and he's going to take all opinions into consideration. I'm not a power play type guy. Greg Smith is our scouting director and I have complete faith and trust in him. ... We're going to get a very good player, but it's a deeper draft than it is top-heavy."

Secondly, Huntington said, "the advisor of anyone we consider will have no impact on whether we select them or not."

That last bit can likely be viewed as a reference to super-agent Scott Boras, who represents both Rendon and Cole. Huntington has proven he's not averse to dealing with Boras - Pedro Alvarez, who was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, is a Boras client. Those negotiations turned very messy after the draft deadline passed, with the Alvarez camp claiming he had actually agreed to a deal shortly after the deadline, and the two sides had to reach a new agreement. But Huntington has never shied away from tricky situations in the draft, and I don't know why he would start now.

There's no particular reason for the Pirates to tip their hand now, or even for them to have made up their minds already. Unless something dramatic changes, though, I would expect them to pick Rendon, or possibly Cole, next month.
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MLB Draft: Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole Are Top Prospects; Pirates Pick First

The Post-Gazette has a good feature on UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole, one of the top prospects in June's amateur baseball draft, that doubles as a good explanation of the potential differences between Cole and fellow top prospect and Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon. The Pirates have the first pick of the draft, so they get their choice of one or the other; Rendon and Cole are widely regarded as the best two prospects in that draft, usually in that order.

Baseball America editor Jim Callis consistently has ranked Rendon first, though he recently acknowledged that "Cole is making a push" at No. 2. ESPN's Keith Law has it the other way, calling comparisons between Cole and Strasburg "reasonable" and writing two weeks ago that "there is absolutely no question" Cole is No. 1.

The Pirates are not commenting on any specifics of their No. 1 pick, but they are known to be focusing heavily on these two, while still not ruling out others. There is internal concern about Rendon's physical stature and health, and there is concern about Cole simply because he is a pitcher.

Ultimately, the decision will come down to which player the Pirates like best, but the differences between the types of players Rendon and Cole are do matter - a lot. The Pirates have tons of good pitching prospects in the minors, but relatively few good hitters. Rendon would help remedy that. And, much more importantly (since the Pirates won't be picking for need with the first overall selection in the draft), pitching prospects, even college prospects, are very dangerous commodities - they often get hurt or lose velocity or bite on their pitchers. Rendon, as the article points out, has had plenty of injuries himself, however.

As for Cole, he has blazing stuff but has struggled in his last three starts, allowing 18 runs between them. He has been compared to (now-injured) phenom Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals; I'm not a scout, but it's nearly impossible to imagine Strasburg having those kinds of struggles in his last couple years of college. I saw Strasburg pitch for San Diego State, and batters had no idea what to do with him - he threw fastballs until hitters figured out how to time them, then started throwing breaking balls that had them looking absolutely lost. Cole doesn't seem to be posting Strasburg-like results. That doesn't mean he won't in the future, only that he's not there yet.

Here are scouting reports on Rendon and Cole at Bucs Dugout.
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