Monday, June 6, 2011

Final few hours before the 2011 MLB draft: the Cole v. Rendon debate

According to Mayo, Pirates have finally made their decision regarding their top pick this draft (spoiler alert: Gerrit Cole will be called upon).

Arguments are flooding in against this selection - it's a viable argument but in a draft where the two top positional players have serious questions about health and projection and where a large number of potential aces or solid mid-rotation arms can be scooped up, nothing stands out as "can't miss" in this year's first-player draft.

I'm not going to defend or criticize the Pirates selection since Cole has shown first-round capabilities both out of high school and as a junior in college.  Cole has maintained his development as a potential major league pitcher and now it seems it's up to the Pirates development and health for him to fully succeed.  The former will be something the team can control.  I'm sure, depending on how quickly he signs, Cole could report to High-A Bradenton or he/they could elect to skip this summer and let him debut for about 40 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

Health is another matter for Cole and I haven't come across any reports declaring mechanical issues that would need to be cleaned up.  So, depending on the amount of innings and pitches Cole has thrown for UCLA the past few seasons it may be prudent for them shut him down until spring of 2012 - but nothing, in terms of overall health, is ever guaranteed.

According to a recent Fangraphs article by Dave Cameron, Cole has the highest ERA, HR's allowed, and opp. batting average on the 2011 Bruins team and, along with the shoddy track record of pitchers taken first overall, this could be a formula for disaster.  As further stated by Cameron, Cole's BABIP was high but with the engineering surrounding college bats (even the new and "approved" BBCOR bats) BABIP still has the potential to flucuate based on a.) small sample of innings (114 IP, which Cameron acknowledges) and b.) traditionally, college defenses are subpar and c.) even with the newly sanctioned BBCOR bats, the "sweet spot" has been dramatically reduced along with the removal of its "trampoline/bounce effect" but metal bats still don't break and this can reduce other possibilities of weak contact when a wooden bat breaks or shatters.

Like Quarterbacks being draft first in the NFL (or early in the first round) a lot of risk is always involved and money, esp. with football, regarding all pitchers but I still don't see Anthony Rendon with his questionable size and questionable health as being amunition for an agrument against the selection of Cole as first - even the next best positional prospect, Bubba Starling, has a lot of talent but just as many question marks since he is so raw.

If Rendon was healthy or if he agreed to release his medical report showing exactly what is ailing his shoulder then (based on this med. report being positive) I would argue that selecting the lesser of two evils (amatuer bat over amatuer pitcher) would be wise.

Until then, this draft is loaded with too many question marks on both ends and no clear conclusion regarding the Cole v. Rendon camp can or should be made until next season.

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