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.