It's often been said that figures lie and liars figure. Numbers can either be a bane or a blessing when discussing sports draft picks.
The hallowed, much ballyhooed top draft pick of all can expect his stats to lead him to a payday of riches beyond his wildest imagination. However, numbers don't always tell the full story. Many questions need to be answered of any top pick.
What's his work ethic like? Can he make a smooth transition into professional athletics? How fast can he develop? Is he level-headed and mature? Can he handle success?
Can he shrug off (and hopefully learn from) failure? How much of an impact can he make right away? Is he a quick learner? How versatile is he now or can he become?
UCLA's Gerrit Cole
Numbers certainly speak to strengths and weaknesses on the field. It's what gets scouts' attention (and fans, as well).
Being a No. 1 pick means that you're going to a last place team. Fan expectation is very high. They are looking to see their team's fortunes turned around—the sooner, the better.
UCLA's Gerrit Cole was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates as this year's top overall draft pick. The Pirate faithful know all about languishing in the dregs of MLB standings. They certainly have had more than their share of the bitter taste of team failure.
Cole comes equipped with a howitzer for a throwing arm, able to get the white spheroid to the plate at a speed exceeding three digits. How does he compare with the five previous top picks?
Will Gerrit be all that Pirates fans are praying for?
During his senior campaign for UCLA, Cole won six, lost eight, 3.31 ERA in 16 starts. He pitched four completes. He threw 114.1 innings, striking out 119 hitters and opponents hit him at a .242 rate.
He plunked 10 hitters and walked only 24, indicating fairly good control. He becomes the first No. 1 (overall) pick in UCLA history, although the New York Mets took right-hander, Tim Leary second overall in 1979.
Catcher-turned-outfielder, Bryce Harper
Last year's top pick was Bryce Harper by the Washington Nationals.
Harper left high school after getting his GED following his sophomore year in high school. He then enrolled in Junior College at the College of Southern Nevada and proceeded to wreck opposing pitchers.
His time with the Coyotes shows an average of .443, 31 homers, 98 RBI, 88 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, an on-base percentage of .524 and a slugging percentage of .986 in only 66 games played. Harper is currently snaking his way through the Nats' farm system.
Stephen Strasberg of San Diego State was the top pick in 2009, also going to the Washington Nationals.
During his final (junior) year, Strasberg went 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA and 195 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 109 innings. He made his major league debut a year later, striking out 14 Pirate players.
He would later develop a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm, necessitating Tommy John surgery and 12 to 18 months of rehabilitation.
Tampa's prized shortstop prospect, Tim Beckham
Shortstop Tim Beckham, out of Griffin High School (Griffin, Georgia) went first in the 2008 draft and was taken by the Tampa Bay Rays.
His senior year yielded a .500 BA, five homers, 31 RBI and 18 steals in 24 games. Beckham runs the 60-yard dash in 6.35 seconds and bench presses 280 lbs—not bad for only weighing 190 lbs.
He's currently making his way through the Rays' farm system.
David Price cuts a daunting figure at 6'6" tall.
In 2007, Vanderbilt lefty, David Price was taken first, again by Tampa. He had been drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of Blackman high school (Murfreesboro, TN), but chose instead to attend Vanderbilt.
In his final (junior) year for Vanderbilt, the 6'6", 225-lb lefty went 11-1, 2.63 ERA, 194 strikeouts in 133.1 innings pitched. Price wormed his way into the majors before season's end in 2008 and has been there ever since.
Luke Hochevar was drafted three times before signing.
Like David Price, Luke Hochevar was drafted by the LA Dodgers out of high school but chose to attend three years at the University of Tennessee, instead.
His final year in school saw him post a 15-3 record with a 2.26 ERA, three completes, 154 strikeouts, 54 walks and a 139.2 innings in 19 games pitched.
He was again drafted by Los Angeles, but the two sides couldn't agree on a contract. So, Hochevar decided to pitch a season in an independent league instead. He entered the draft for the third time and was the top pick in 2006, going to the Kansas City Royals.
He made his MLB debut in September of the following year and has been a mainstay ever since.
How long before manager Clint Hurdle can run Gerrit Cole out to the mound?
By comparison, Gerrit Cole's numbers aren't as jaw-dropping. He's coming to a team who has been stockpiling stud pitchers ever since drafting Pedro Alvarez as their top selection in 2008.
Big, raw-boned flame-throwers are destined to become the rule, rather than the exception in Pittsburgh, with names like Stetson Allie, Chris LeRoux, Kyle McPherson and Jameson Taillon. The clock is ticking and the competition is foreboding.
Time to see what Cole is really made of and what he can bring to the table.