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.
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