2011 MLB Mock Draft: Will Gerrit Cole Fall to the Mariners at No. 2?
For the past five to seven months, it has appeared very likely that Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole would be the top two picks in the 2011 MLB draft.
Of course, nobody could have expected that Rendon would struggle so badly to hit for power with the new bats, or that Cole would all of a sudden forget where the strike-zone was.
Here we are, less than three weeks away from draft day, and word is starting to spread that both players might drop out of the top-two spots, with plenty of newcomers just jumping for the chance to go No. 1 overall.
And while you might think that says a lot about Cole and Rendon's struggles, it actually says more about the depth of this class. After thinking that the Rice third baseman would be the de facto No. 1 pick for almost a year now, it looks like Danny Hultzen, Bubba Starling, Dylan Bundy and Jed Bradley all have a sliver of a hope to go first overall to Pittsburgh.
You bet that fans in Seattle are rejoicing at the thought of getting to choose between Rendon and Cole at No. 2!
It's been quite a hectic week, with $20 and $30 million bonuses getting tossed out, and rumors circulating about what team is looking to go in which direction.
Luckily, I've got your back, with another mock draft with the most up-to-date details from each team and on each player.
1) Pittsburgh Pirates- Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice
Like most top picks since 2000, Rendon has selected super-agent Scott Boras to represent him, and Boras, ever the crafty negotiator, has reportedly put into action a plan that would distribute Rendon's medical records to the team's who appear most likely to shell out the money it will take to sign him.
This is a big deal because Rendon has been plagued by a shoulder injury that he suffered just days before the 2011 season began. Nobody knows the severity of the injury or if it will be a long-term problem, so the medical reports would either assuage everyone's fears or damn Rendon.
Still, I'm pretty sure that the Pirates are going to stick with the most logical selection at No. 1, and without a doubt, that has to be Rendon.
If his shoulder is healthy and the Bucs pass on him with the first pick, it could be another destructive move.
Even if Rendon doesn't ever recover his power-stroke, which he has still shown in BP this season, he's going to be an above-average defender at third base with the ability to hit over .300 every season.
Pittsburgh doesn't have too many players like that.
2) Seattle Mariners- Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia
The Mariners are starting to assemble some legitimate talent on the big-league roster.
Justin Smoak is starting to emerge as a serious middle-of-the-order bat that everyone expected him to blossom into, Michael Pineda has looked downright dominating at times, and Dustin Ackley is one the verge of joining both of them very soon.
So as much sense as it would make for them to take Cole, his command issues with his fastball mean that he could spend more time in the minors than Hultzen, Bradley or Jungmann. As as great of a pick as Dylan Bundy would be, he's still at least three or four seasons away from making an impact.
The Mariners, with an organization full of top prospects who are nearing the big-leagues, would be best suited by a player, preferably a pitcher, who could reach the majors quickly, and the best player like that would be Hultzen.
He'll likely come with a very high price tag, but Seattle will have some leverage in the fact that there's no way Hultzen could return to college as a senior in 2012 and improve his stock any more than he has this year.
Hultzen and Pineda, along with King Felix, would give the M's a solid foundation for years to come.
3) Arizona Diamondbacks- Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
The D-Backs have two picks in the top seven this year, and while they seem to have their heart set on Hultzen, it's looking all the more likely that he'll be gone by the time they pick at No. 3.
Still, picking up Cole with their first pick would be a very huge steal.
If everything falls into place for Cole he could be the very best player from this year's class, and if there's anything the D-Backs need, it's plenty of the best players.
And while he may cost a bit more than Hultzen or Bradley, the team can afford to save a few shekels by going more conservative at pick No. 7.
4) Baltimore Orioles- Matt Barnes, RHP, UConn
Baltimore's best case scenarios are that either Anthony Rendon's shoulder concerns drop him all the way to their picking spot at No. 4, or Rendon is given a clear-bill of health and goes No. 1, Arizona goes in another direction and Hultzen falls to them.
They're likely looking at a scenario where both players are gone when they pick, leaving them with tons of options and no real consensus.
The team has had terrible luck with high-schoolers like Matt Hobgood, Billy Rowell and Brandon Snyder over the past decade, and like a few teams picking in the top 10, they're going to probably be seeking a guy who can help them sooner rather than later.
If there was a sure-fire No. 2 position player without the concerns that come with picking George Springer, I'd say they would go that route, but there isn't so that makes a college pitcher look very probable.
There's a wealth of those to pick from, and while Bradley has the best repertoire of them all, I think the O's will go off the chart here and go for Barnes from UConn.
Barnes looked filthy last summer and has righted his ship after a rough start to the 2011 campaign. He's been a true horse on the mound and hasn't fallen in love with the strikeout like most of the top college pitchers have.
He has a great array of pitches, and all of them have at least average potential.
He might not get to the majors as quickly as Bradley, but to me, his ceiling is considerably higher.
5) Kansas City Royals- Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA
After sounding like the kind of team that would be willing to spend big on Bubba Starling, it's sounding more and more probable that the Royals will also be looking for a player they can plug into the big-league roster ASAP.
Bradley would also make the most sense here, but with the extreme wealth of riches in the Kansas City system, they can afford to take a chance on a guy like Bauer, who might not even need any time in the minors. I could envision a scenario very similar to Mike Leake, who never spent a day in the minors.
Bauer is a menace on the mound, who could probably pitch out of the Royals bullpen as soon as he signs, especially if they're somehow in contention in August and September.
If he signs too late, or the Royals decide to let him rest his arm a little (he leads NCAA Div I in IP), he could fight for a job out of spring training.
And if, on the off-chance, they decide to start him in the minors, he should arrive at the same time as the Mike Montgomery-John Lamb duo.
6) Washington Nationals- Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech
The word on the street is that the Nats are also high on this year's college pitching crop.
With Cole, Hultzen, Barnes and Bauer all off the board, Jed Bradley is the top pitcher left.
Luckily for the Nats, there are more than a few experts who think Bradley is the best college pitcher in this year's draft. His combination of size, velocity and various off-speed pitches make him a very tough pitcher to face and a guy who is likely to move through the minors very quickly.
As an added bonus, Bradley is a lefty.
Teaming Bradley with Strasburg and Zimmerman, and in the long-run A.J. Cole, the Nats could have themselves one heck of a home-grown rotation and one that will finally be able to compete against Philly and Atlanta.
7) Arizona Diamondbacks- Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
With their second selection in the first-round, the D-Backs will likely go for a guy who is easier to ink that whoever they pick at No. 3.
While Gray isn't going to sign for a slot deal like last year's pick Barrett Loux, he likely won't break the bank, making him an ideal candidate for pick No. 7.
With his lethal fastball-curveball combo, Gray has carved up SEC hitters this season, leading Vandy to a No. 7 ranking in Baseball America's most recent poll.
Like Bauer, Gray could probably make the jump straight from college to the majors as a reliever, but considering he throws a pretty solid changeup, it will make the most sense to leave him in a rotation, where he could emerge as a No.1 or No. 2 guy in a few seasons.
It's funny to think that Gray was considered one of the top college arms coming into the 2011 draft season, and now he falls all the way to No. 7, despite doing nothing wrong.
Yet another example of how deep this draft class is.
8) Cleveland Indians- Bubba Starling, Of, Gardner Edgerton HS (KS)
Don't let this slide all the way to No. 8 fool you; Starling is a legitimate contender to go with the first pick.
Sadly, this draft is so deep, and Starling's signability concerns so grave, that he could very easily fall out of the top 10, which would be a major travesty.
Despite his football scholarship to Nebraska and his incredible prowess on the basketball court, it's in between the chalk lines that Starling's brightest future lay.
He has all the tools you want in a center-fielder. Above-average speed. Light-tower power. A rocket arm.
He's looked sensational since returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the first month of the high school season.
Getting Starling here would be a major coup for the Indians, who could use some elite position players like him after going for mostly pitchers the past few years.
If the do indeed select him, it would be breaking a major trend for them, as they've selected a college player with their first pick in the draft just about every season for the past 15 years.
9) Chicago Cubs- Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso HS (OK)
Last year, the Cubs went completely AWOL and took Hayden Simpson with their first-round pick.
This year, I'm betting they go a little more conventional, and they could get a great find at pick No. 9 with Dylan Bundy, who could be in play for the No. 1 overall selection, but who could also slide out of the top 10 due to concerns about the reported $30 million he's been floating out there.
The Cubs could sweeten the deal a little by tossing in a Major League contract, but aside from the Yankees, Royals, Red Sox or Pirates, no team is more willing to toss around the extra coin, making Bundy and the Cubs a perfect fit.
It would also fill a dire need for Chicago, who sent their top pitching prospect to Tampa for Matt Garza this offseason.
10) San Diego Padres- Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow HS (OK)
While Dylan Bundy gets the bragging rights as the top pitcher draft out of the state of Oklahoma, he'll likely only do it by a few picks.
The Padres missed out on adding some elite talent last year when they failed to sign Karsten Whitson to a deal. Whitson headed off to UF and the Padres got this pick.
Scooping up Bradley would be a great move for a couple reasons.
It would give a major shot in the arm to their farm system, which is lacking elite talent, especially once Anthony Rizzo and Casey Kelly reach the big-leagues, most likely this year.
It will also give the Padres a pitcher who is much more talented than Whitson was...and is.
And as pricey as it will be to ink him, thanks to his dual-sport status and his commitment to play football at the University of Oklahoma, his uspide is as high as just about any pitcher in this draft.
11) Houston Astros- Matt Purke, LHP, Texas Christian
Purke's 2011 season has been a disaster.
Not only did he suffer his first collegiate defeat, but he's also missed most of the season with numerous ailments, his most recent coming in the form of shoulder soreness.
He returned this past weekend, but he's going to be kept on a short leash for the rest of the season. It's been an incredibly disappointing showing for a player who had some support as the No. 1 overall selection coming into the season.
Still, even with all the ailments, and the doubts about his throwing motion,
12) Milwaukee Brewers- Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde Academy (FL)
Lindor is another player who could go No. 1 overall in any other year.
This year, however, is unlike any other, and as such, he could drop all the way past pick No. 12, but if he is still available when the Brewers pick here, it would be a major disappointment if they passed on him.
Without a doubt, the Brewers have the worst farm system in baseball, and they're at their weakest in terms of position player depth. They dealt their shortstop of the future to Kansas City before the season began and have gone through shortstops this year like David Wells goes through PBRs.
Picking up Lindor would give the Brewers basically another Alcides Escobar, who was supposed to be a franchise cornerstone at short.
13) New York Mets- Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky
Meyer has been one of the draft's most interesting characters over the past few months.
He's improved his stock greatly with steady performances over the past month and a half, and now he looks like he could be a guy who goes in the top-10 picks, with some even pegging him as the Nationals selection at pick No. 6.
He sure does have all the talent in the world, including high 90s velocity, a great breaking-ball and the kind of size you dream about. What he doesn't do well, or hadn't until just recently, is repeat his delivery consistently.
Like most big guys, he struggles in that department. If he can bring it all together, he could be one of the steals of the draft and a guy who moves very quickly.
14) Florida Marlins- Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Spring Valley HS (SC)
I've been pegging the Marlins to take projectable lefty Henry Owens for as long as I can remember, but with all the talent in this draft and all the uncertainty swirling at the top, it's likely that at least one or two players are going to slide down.
One of those could be Guerrieri, who exploded onto the scene near the beginning of the year with upper 90s velocity.
Since then, however, several other pitchers have also flashed velocity in that same range, causing some to fall off the Guerrieri bandwagon.
The Marlins love high-school pitchers, and if the right-hander from South Carolina slips to them at No. 14, you bet they're pulling the trigger.
15) Milwaukee Brewers- Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon
I'm pretty much alone in my belief that Anderson is going to go a lot closer to the first pick of this draft than the 33rd, which is the final pick of the first round.
He's got everything you could want: low-to-mid 90s velocity, great off-speed stuff and excellent command. He's like a diet version of Brian Matusz.
Matusz, for the record, needed less than 20 starts in the minors before earning a big-league call-up.
I see Anderson following a similar path and think he could be one of the first guys from this draft class to impact the Majors.
Ending up with Milwaukee here is in the best interest of both parties. The Brewers get to save on a slot guy after taking a big-name player with their first pick, and Anderson gets a big-league deal.
16) Los Angeles Dodgers- Blake Swihart, C, Cleveland HS (NM)
Swihart is, without a doubt, the top overall catcher in the 2011 draft class.
Oregon State's Andrew Susac might be a better defender, and Bethune Cookman's Peter O'Brien might be better at the plate, but nobody has the combination of offensive and defensive projection like Swihart.
And few teams know what it's like to be as bad at catcher as the Dodgers.
Ever since Russell Martin skipped town and rejuvenated his career in New York, the team has been looking for a franchise catcher with offensive potential.
Swihart is that guy.
17) Los Angeles Angels- Henry Owens, LHP, Edison HS (CA)
The Angels have placed quite a premium on high-school pitching the past few seasons, and with this year's strong prep crop, it only makes sense to go after another.
Owens has as much potential as any high-schooler thanks to his massive frame (6'7", 185 pounds). He already throws in the low-to-mid 90s and could potentially crank his fastball up into the upper 90s as he continues to fill out.
He has two potential above-average pitches in a curveball and a slider.
He is also fresh off a no-hitter in the first-round of the playoffs in which he struck out 12 and walked one.
18) Oakland Athletics- Josh Bell, Of, Jesuit Prep (TX)
Bell is the kind of player the A's have made a habit of drafting the past few years: very toolsy, a great hitter and for the most part, a very safe pick.
It goes without saying that Bell is going to hit at the next level. He's a very seasoned hitter at the plate, with the chance for above-average power.
He's got a rocket for an arm that would fit nicely in an outfield corner, and he has some sneaky speed that will aid him not only one the base-paths but also in the field.
Teamed with Michael Choice, the A's will have two very talented, toolsy athletes to look forward to manning their outfield corners.
19) Boston Red Sox- Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
Last year, the Sox plucked Jungmann's rotation mate Brandon Workman.
This year, assuming he's available, they should reunite the duo, getting a relative steal with the Longhorns ace at pick No. 19.
Jungmann has had a stellar season, racking up complete games and strikeouts and proving himself to be one of the most clutch performers in college baseball. Depending on how the Horns fare in the NCAA tournament, he could be a legitimate contender for college baseball's player of the year award.
Like most of the other college arms, Jungmann throws in the low-to-mid 90s, while he can scrape the 96-97 mph range. He has a great slider and a changeup that has looked better this year than ever before.
Questions about his mechanics have, for the most part, been silenced by his steady performances, although it wouldn't surprise me if he fell this far on draft day due to those same concerns.
20) Colorado Rockies- George Springer, Of, Connecticut
Springer is one of the best power-speed threats in this draft, and the only way he slips to Colorado here is if teams have legitimate concerns about his swing, which looked so bad during the first few weeks of the season, but has looked so good as of late.
In terms of offense, Springer is the complete package. He can hit for average and for power, and he's a legit 30 steal per season kind of threat on the base-paths.
On defense, he's not too shabby either, combining a strong arm with excellent range. He's played most center in college, but could be forced a corner spot as a pro.
Adding a player of Springer's caliber would be a huge boost for the Rockies, as he is a more explosive version of another player already in their employ, Tim Wheeler.
21) Toronto Blue Jays- Daniel Norris, LHP, Science Hill HS (TN)
The Blue Jays jumped on the high-school bandwagon last year in the supplemental first-round, tabbing pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez.
Both are now two of the Jays top pitching prospects.
In any other year, it would be a crime if a pitcher like Daniel Norris was still available at pick No. 21, especially considering he was rated as the top high school pitcher in the 2011 prep class at the beginning of the year.
Norris has front-of-the-rotation stuff, including a mid 90s fastball and a great curveball.
He has had an incredible season, justifying his status as a top-15 pick.
22) St. Louis Cardinals- Larry Greene, Of, Berrien County HS (GA)
Tyler Anderson could also be a nice fit here for St. Louis, but my guess is he's gone by the time the Cardinals pick at No. 22.
The Cardinals usually prefer the safe college players, although they struck gold going off-track to sign Shelby Miller a few years ago.
I'm guessing they'll go that route again and try to catch lightning in a bottle, this time with Georgia high-schooler Larry Greene.
Greene has earned a lot of momentum lately, with a few experts projecting him to go somewhere in the first 15 picks.
His power is unreal and as good as anyone in this draft, college hitters included. The rest of his tools are average at best, but it is his power that should make him a nice target for teams in the lower half of the first round, presuming he's still available.
23) Washington Nationals- C.J. Cron, 1B, Utah
No hitter has had a better season in the college ranks than Cron, Utah's once-upon-a-time catcher who has spent the past two seasons at first base.
He ranks near the top of the NCAA stat board in average and doubles and is far and away the top pick to earn MWC Player of the Year honors for the second year in a row.
Most important, his power stroke has been largely unaffected by the introduction of the new bats. He's hit just as well, if not better, with the new equipment, leading many to believe his bat is for real and will play at the next level.
If Cron could stick behind the plate, he'd likely be a top 10 pick, but even at first base, where his defensive ability is average, he's going to go somewhere in the first round.
The Nats have a gaping hole at first base. Adam LaRoche won't be around forever, and Chris Marrero is not what they expected when they used a first-round pick on him a few seasons ago.
24) Tampa Bay Rays- Javier Barez, INF, Arlington Country Day HS (FL)
The Rays have three picks in the first round, with the first one coming at pick No. 24.
Because they have so many picks, don't be surprised if they pull the trigger on somebody who isn't considered a first-rounder here.
The organization is real big on toolsy players, and by taking Baez, they could pick up one of the high-school crop's most impressive bats. Baez has a lot of juice in his bat and could fit any number of roles for the Rays.
He's seen a little time at shortstop and has looked decent, but he could probably stand to move to either second base or third.
Even with Longoria on board, the Rays won't let that affect their drafting plan.
25) San Diego Padres- Austin Hedges, C, Juniper Serro HS (CA)
The Padres are in dire need of catching help, with some dead weight on the big-league roster and not too much to speak of in the minors.
They need to add some talent at the position somewhere in the draft, and with Hedges available at pick No. 25, it only makes sense.
Hedges is considered the top defensive backstop in the country regardless of class, with many feeling he's the best defensive catcher to come along in 15 years. His bat ranks a good bit behind his prowess behind the plate, but he's a So-Cal kid, so you know the Padres have done their due dilligence on the kid.
If he can make some strides with his bat, he could be a cornerstone kind of player.
26) Boston Red Sox- Andrew Susac, C, Oregon State
The Red Sox are another team in dire straits when it comes to the catcher position.
Right now, they have an aging Jason Varitek holding on, with a troubled young vet in Jarrod Saltamacchia backing him up.
Down in the minors, the situation doesn't look much better.
Adding Susac would give the team a solid defender with huge upside at the plate. Susac barely got to show what he was capable of this season before breaking a bone in his hand. The injury sidelined him for the majority of the season, although he recently returned to the field.
He's expected to be a major anchor for the Beavers in the NCAA tournament, and his play there could determine whether or not he sticks as a first-rounder.
He has great raw power, although he hasn't had the chance to show it in game-action.
27) Cincinnati Reds- John Stilson, RHP, Texas A&M
The Reds farm system is in pretty good shape in terms of position talent. They have a dearth of young, athletic outfielders and a solid group of veteran infielders.
What they are lacking is some top-shelf talent in the pitching staff.
Stilson could fill that need in one of two ways.
One, as a reliever. Last year, Stilson was arguably the top reliever in the country. He struck out as many batters as you would see a starter send down on strikes. He saved a good amount of games, showing that killer instinct, and forced his fastball into the upper 90s.
He would make a great closer in the pro ranks and could need less than one full season of minor league coaching.
Two, as a starter. Stilson made the jump into the rotation this season and has been one of the most dominant starters in college baseball. It has been rare that he's struggled in consecutive starts, and his velocity has stayed pretty solid. He's maintained it deep into games and has shown some solid off-speed stuff that has many thinking he could stick in the rotation.
Either way, the Reds pick up a great pitcher with skills they can tailor to their needs.
28) Atlanta Braves- Cory Spangenberg, SS/3B, Indian River State JC (FL)
Count me among the believers that the Braves will pull the trigger on Spangenberg, making him the heir apparent to aging slugger Chipper Jones.
Spangerberg has lightning in his bat and his legs
He's arguably one of the top five fastest runners in this draft class, and he's also a proven power hitter, with a solid track record that extends from his high-school days to his freshman season at VMI, all the way to his most recent campaign with IRSJC.
The Braves have made habit of drafting shortstops pretty high the past few seasons, but if they took Spangenberg, they would be doing so with the direct intention of sliding him over to third.
29) San Francisco Giants- Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra HS (CA)
The Giants are in need of pitching help badly.
Yes, they have have one of the top big-league rotations, but down in the minors, it's Zack Wheeler and then a lot of wishful thinking.
This is an incredibly deep pitching class, especially with the high-schoolers, so they'll probably take a stab at one of them, and they could do worse than Robert Stephenson, a local Californian who the Giants know well.
Stephenson threw back-to-back no-hitters to open the 2011 high school season and has looked brilliant just about every time out.
He complements his low-to-mid 90s fastball that can scrape 96-97 mph, with a vast array of off-speed pitches. He sometimes throws as many as five or six pitches in each outing.
30) Minnesota Twins- Brandon Nimmo, Of, East HS (WY)
The Twins will likely have a top-five pick in 2012, and as bad as they've been this year, they're in the running for the No. 1 overall selection next year.
This year, they don't pick until the 30th spot, but luckily for them, there's a wealth of talent available at the bottom of the first-round.
Getting a guy like Nimmo, whose ceiling is arguably as high as any high-school outfielder, would be a steal. Everyone knows that the Twins are one of the best in the business when it comes to refining raw talent, and that's what Nimmo is.
He has plenty to work with, however, like plus-plus speed and a rocket arm. His bat is very quick and he's looked very good up against American Legion competition, a necessity because Wyoming doesn't sanction high-school baseball.
Nimmo is the kind of high-risk, high-reward that the Twins need right now.
31) Tampa Bay Rays- Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso HS (FL)
Everyone seems to be linking the Rays to local product Fernandez.
A former Cuban defector, Fernandez has the chance to start at the minor league level at a normal level, something not too often seen in those from his same background.
Fernandez has wowed scouts with his mid-to-high 90s velocity in the past and has complimented his fastball with a very impressive curveball that should be an above-average pitch in pro ball.
He also throws a changeup, but like his curveball, it too needs tons of refinement. Simply put, Fernandez is more of a thrower and less of a pitcher. All three of his pitches lack the command and control he's going to need to survive as a pro.
Luckily, the Rays thrive at developing prospects like Fernandez.
His fastball is about as fast as it's going to get, so all he needs to do now is work on sharpening his command and developing his secondary pitches.
32) Tampa Bay Rays- Kolten Wong, 2B, Hawaii
Wong is one of just a handful of legitimate second baseman prospects in the 2011 MLB draft class.
He's also one of the more polished hitters available, with a strong track record of success everywhere he's been, from the college ranks at Hawaii to the Cape Cod League, where he was the league MVP last summer.
Wong has played solid defense at 2B during his three years at Hawaii. His arm is good enough and his footwork is decent enough to stick there. His bat should make him one of the better offensive players at the position, and he should move quickly through the minors.
If Wong were to get picked up by, say Tampa Bay, he could arguably be in the majors by mid-2013.
33) Texas Rangers- Dillon Howard, RHP, Searcy HS (AR)
The Rangers love them some pitching, and even though they went the other direction last year in the firstround, expect them to go in the opposite direction this year.
There should still be plenty of talent left by the end of the first-round, leaving a guy like Howard, who throws in the mid 90s with a wicked slider, and one of the top changeups of any high-schooler.
He has impressive command for a high-schooler and good size. He has the frame of the prototypical inning-eater and could be a No. 2 starter for many teams.
The Rangers, who have a very piece-meal rotation, could stand to add another high-ceiling guy to their pipeline that already includes Martin Perez, Robbie Erlin, Joe Wieland, David Perez and Robbie Ross.