The MLB draft is just four days away, and as all of you (hopefully) know, the Pirates possess the top pick. With that said, there is still no consensus on what the Pirates will do with the top pick. This being my first post, I should address that this is a Pirates blog, so without further ado, here is my personal "want" list for the upcoming draft:
1. Dylan Bundy,RHP, Owassa HS: I'd like for you to take a minute of your time to imagine a right-handed, picture-perfect pitching prospect, and describe him for me. Good mechanics? Check. High velocity on fastball? (100+mph) Check. Secondary pitch? (devastating curveball) Check. Good changeup? Well... maybe. He uses a cut-fastball (88mph) as a changeup, and it works effectively. The consensus among scouts is that Dylan Bundy is better than Jameson Taillon, the Bucs #1 pick in 2010, and pairing these two together could be lethal in 2014, if both arrive in Pittsburgh by then.
2. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice U: As much as I'd like to say that I knew he wasn't a great power hitter, I also feel as though this whole season should be thrown out. Rendon has had a number of nagging injuries this year, and has unfairly fallen on many draft boards. Last winter, many preferred Rendon to Bryce Harper, but at this point, nobody is quite sure how he will heal from injury, and whether or not he will ever approach his gaudy MLB-projected .300 avg, 30+ HR line that many thought he would be able to hit for just a few months back.
**At this point, I'd just like to say that the Pirates are almost in a no-win situation here. If Rendon becomes a stud hitter, people will say that he should have gone #1, if a pitcher (Bundy, or the ones I will mention later) become true aces, then they should be the #1 pick. Without a consensus top player, the Pirates are put in a position in which they absolutely MUST hit on their pick. So, here are the rest of my top draft prospects:
3: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA: First off, I'd like to say that his name would be better if spelled like mine, "G-A-R-R-E-T-T", however, I'd bet he would say the same to me. For those of you that have followed the draft since Pedro Alvarez was taken, you might remember Gerrit Cole. Cole was taken #28 by the New York Yankees, and (the life-long Yankees fan) decided not to sign, instead opting to go to UCLA. Cole has pitched well since then, and even had his name be mentioned in the same breath of Stephen Strasburg, only to struggle in a few starts afterwards and become more of a Kris Benson. However, you just don't find starters who throw 101 every day. As much as I hate that argument, it also applies to JaMarcus Russell (you can't teach 6'6"), at the very least, a 100mph fastball will put Cole in the bullpen. The thing that concerns me is that there are some reports that Cole's "stuff" has become flat. If this is the reason for his recent poor performances, then I am not worried too much, as he has been throwing 120+ pitches in many of his outings. I just wish he could be more efficient with his pitches.
4. Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner-Edgerton HS: Okay, okay... maybe we don't need another 5-tool centerfielder. But Starling is special. He is an extremely good athlete (committed to Nebraska to QB), and a great baseball player. Actually, if Starling was a college hitter, I'd probably have him above Rendon. With Tabata and McCutchen playing LF and CF, respectively, I would imagine Starling taking over RF in 2014 or 2015, with two years until McCutchen is able to leave via FA (in my mind, that would be worse than Bonds leaving... mostly because Cutch isn't an egotistical ***hole). Starling has some decent power-potential, and would be a viable candidate to replace Cutch, if he would leave via free agency, but could also fill a corner-outfield spot if needed. When I think of him, I often think of Mike Trout, although Trout seems to be a little better in my opinion.
5. Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA: Has anyone ever seen this man pitch and said, "perfect mechanics"? Probably not. I'd imagine any comment about him would have to include a "Tim Lincecum" somewhere. I mean, Bauer is... simply... unique. When I watched the first 5 seconds of this video, I laughed. Give it 5 more seconds, and I thought "Tim Lincecum..." etc. He leads the NCAA in Ks (by 60, FYI), is small in stature, is out-pitching teammate Gerrit Cole, and has nearly the same mechanics as Lincecum. For the teams that are looking back on the 2006 draft and saying "we should of picked Lincecum" here is your chance. But with that pick comes the risk, which is why I rank him at number 5.
6. Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde Academy HS: This is my wildcard in the draft. On one hand, I could see him become the next Hanley Ramirez, on the other hand, well... a bust. In five years, there is no telling what he could be. Some say he's not built to play SS, others say he's built perfectly. I have no idea. If he does maximize his potential, though, I could see him going down as the Pirates second-best all-time shortstop (Honus Wagner is inevitably #1).
7. Danny Hultzen,LHP, Virginia: Hultzen is a guy who will, no doubt, be talked about every minute leading up to the draft. Many speculate that the Pirates will take Hultzen at #1, and have him as the most polished left-handed pitcher in the draft. With all that said, Hultzen doesn't really excite me. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a Bryan Bullington type of #3 starter (Hultzen would fit nicely behind Taillon in the rotation), but there is something about him pitching that makes me think "This guy is perfect for the Pirates," and although the pitching staff has been tremendous as of late, that is still not a good thing. What the Pirates lack most is exciting starting pitchers. When I think of the best pitchers, I think of high strikeout, high velocity guys, who have the potential to throw a no-hitter every time they step on the mound. Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, and Stephen Strasburg come to mind immediately (if Strasburg can ever recover from Tommy John Surgery). Hultzen just doesn't seem to be that type of pitcher, and doesn't excite me as a number one pick. Will he have a nice career? Probably. But does he have Hall of Fame potential? I don't think so.
8. George Springer, OF, UConn: Let me just start off by saying that I think Springer is an excellent fit for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He profiles as a RF, a position of need, and can potentially be a middle-of-the-order bat. Springer has out-played Anthony Rendon this year, and is potentially a top 5 pick in the draft. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates are really not interested, so I will not discuss him all too much. For the record, though, I would not be surprised if Springer became a Ryan Braun-lite, in that he is a good all-around hitter, and player.
Anyways, more draft-related material to come in the next four days. I hope to preview the second round later this week. Let me know who I missed, and who is too high/low in the comments. Thanks for reading.