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.