Monday, June 6, 2011

Pittsburgh Pirates Select Gerrit Cole in First Round of 2011 Draft

The Pirates added another power arm to their stockpile tonight by selecting UCLA’s Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick in the 2011 MLB Rule 4 Draft. Cole just completed his junior year at UCLA and finished with a 6-8 record and a 3.31 ERA in 114.1 innings pitched.

Cole seemed to be the clear cut choice for the Pirates over the last few weeks over other players such as Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen. Cole has struggled over the second half of the season but that does not seem to be much of a concern to the Pirates as he has shown the ability to throw three “plus” pitches as well as the ability to hit triple digits on the radar gun. You can’t teach that stuff kids.

If you read my Pirates first round draft preview then you know that I was a guy that really wanted Anthony Rendon for many different reasons. Historically taking college hitters is a much better pick than college pitchers who are much better pick than high school players, but I can’t really knock on the pick this year of Cole.

The pick of Cole gives the Pirates four really strong arms over the past two seasons in Cole (2011 first round selection), Jamison Taillon (2010 first round pick), Stetson Allie (2010 second round pick) and Luis Herredia (free agent). I talked about it in the paragraph before that college pitcher are no gimme in the draft, at least not as well as college hitters, but that may be why this is a good pick. I would be foolish to think that all four of those guys above are going to pitch up to the potential that most fans and baseball minds would think, but if even two of those guys work out then this is going to be one hell of a rotation in the future. Coupled with the fact that some think Allie is going to be a bullpen guy (waaaay too soon to tell, I am just saying it’s a possibility) so why not bring in another guy that is of the pedigree that can be a top of the rotation ace. I sure like that idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted Rendon. Ever since last year he is the guy that I thought should be the pick unless something catastrophic (which I don’t believe happened) but looking at it now I really can’t complain over the Cole pick. You know why? I don’t work in major league baseball. I watched these guys a little on tape and a time or two on the field. The Pirates have watched dozens upon dozens of games of this guy live so I think they know a little bit more about it than me or you.

Tim over a Pirates Prospects threw up a great post earlier in the day about how some people are so mad about the Pirates picking up Cole. Make sure you click that link and check it out. I couldn’t agree more with what he said. There seems to be a divide among fans as to who they should take in respect to Rendon and Cole. I have seen people get angry all day (since Mayo all but made the announcement for the Pirates earlier in the morning) because they didn’t draft Rendon. In the same respect there would have been Cole fans angry if they would have taken Rendon. Tim hits the nail on the head when he brings up the point that there can be more than one good choice. In my preview I pointed out that I preferred Rendon but would be more than happy with either Cole or Bundy. You can’t become so shortsighted that you can’t see other possible fits for the system. Like Tim I would rather have the All-Star caliber bat than the pitcher, but you can never have enough pitching.

Here are the stats for Cole thanks to Brian over at Raise the Jolly Roger

As numerous people have stated this kid is pretty MLB ready with possibly three plus pitches. You have already heard about his fastball that can reach 100 or more and a hard slider that is around the 88-90. The most lethal pitch that Cole might have is his changeup which is being described as a plus pitch. When I call it a changeup I am not talking about some 78 mph pitch, he is throwing this hard and from the same arm slot and motion which makes that a deadly pitch. I will take that kind of stuff every day of the week.

I have heard a lot of people talking that Cole is had a lot of trouble, which I documented in the preview, about getting hit around at the end of the season. From what I understand and read those problems are from getting the ball up in the zone and finding too much of the plate. This could be troubling if you are fan watching the game but from what I have read and heard this is a mechanical problem with Cole leaving his front side open too much, therefore leaving the ball a little up in the zone. This does not concern me a whole ton because if all this is a small mechanical fix then that can be done. Some might ask why this wasn’t done during the regular season? It is very tough to make mechanical adjustments during the season. You might try to tweak a few things in side sessions but that is not enough time to make that a muscle memory. I am sure the Pirates are going to work with this as soon as they get him and I highly doubt they would have picked him with the number one overall pick if that was the situation.

Overall I like the pick. This gives the Pirates a solid number one option that can be in the show as early as June of 2013. Cole, if things go well, should work quickly through the system and hopefully we can see him in the near future getting batters out and starting a run at a promising stretch for the Pirates.

Video that I linked in my preview:

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