Plethora of top college arms to be had in Draft
Cole, Hultzen, Bauer head impressive group of quality hurlers
After discussing the few big hitters that there are in this year's Draft class, it's time to move on to where the depth is: pitching.
There is as much, if not more, quality college pitching this year than in any other in recent memory. From hard-throwing, top-of-the-rotation, future-ace types to quality lefties to even some future relievers, there's something for everyone from the college ranks. If a team wants an advanced arm, it almost certainly will be able to get one.
"There are lots of quality arms in this Draft, lots of power arms, starters and relievers, high school and college," one scouting director said. "However, I'm not ready to anoint this as the best Draft in 20 years. Pitching is volatile; lots of things happen to pitchers. The lack of position players puts all the upside on the pitching. That comes with risk. Time will tell us where this Draft rates."
To see when and where these college pitchers go, tune into live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, beginning with a one-hour preview show on Monday, June 6, at 6 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Days 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's a closer look at the top college pitchers in the class, with their rank in the Draft Top 50 prospects in parentheses.
Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA (1)
Long thought to be a candidate to go No. 1 overall, Cole has the power repertoire -- a plus fastball, slider and changeup -- to be an ace. Some uneven performances, despite no difficulty lighting up the radar gun, has made it a bit unclear just where he'll go, but he's still in the Pirates' mix and he's sure not to slide too far if Pittsburgh doesn't take him.
Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia (3)
Hultzen broke out of the gate as well, if not better, than any college pitcher, showing stuff that was better and sharper than previously seen. His performance pushed him to the top of many Draft boards with his name eventually entering the talk about the No. 1 overall pick. Some see him as the safe pick, but more scouts picked him than any other when polled about who they would take No. 1 overall.
Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA (6)
Bauer is unusual, unorthodox, Lincecum-esque. He likes to long-toss. He's got several pitches in his repertoire to choose from and in many ways he's been the best college pitcher, performance-wise, this season. His teammate Cole might go ahead of him, but it won't be by much.
Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas (7)
If Bauer's been better than anyone in the college game, Jungmann would be a close runner-up. The Texas ace has been extraordinary pretty much all season with terrific stuff and outstanding results. The only thing holding him back from being in the top of the Draft mix is an unorthodox delivery that some believe is too violent.
Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech (8)
Though the Saturday starter for Georgia Tech, Bradley was thought to be the second-best college lefty behind Hultzen. He might still be, but struggles of late have hurt his stock. He could end up being a steal if he slides and someone in the middle of the first round gets his four-pitch mix.
Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt (10)
While Gray isn't the biggest guy in the world at 5-foot-11, his stuff speaks volumes. The Vandy ace has a very good three-pitch mix, though command issues have affected him at times. When he's going right, he's got the stuff and the mound presence to front a rotation.
Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut (14)
One of two UConn first-round hopefuls, Barnes would be getting more attention in another Draft class. He's got the chance to have three pitches that are at least Major League average, if not better, and he can get his fastball up into the mid-90s. He's got the makings of a front-line starter and should be gone in the first half of the first round as a result.
Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky (20)
Meyer came out of the Indiana high school scene as a thrower and after a couple of up-and-down seasons at Kentucky really started to evolve into a pitcher as a junior. He's always had the plus fastball and nasty slider, but now he's commanding it better and has added a changeup. His timing is perfect as his stock is on the rise as the Draft approaches.
Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon (24)
Before hitting a road bump in a late-season start, Anderson was humming along as one of the better "pitch-ability lefties" in the class. While his overall stuff may not grade as highly as Hultzen's, he does have a four-pitch mix, highlighted by an above-average changeup. He's not a real high upside guy, but he's the type who should get to the big leagues quickly.
Anthony Meo, RHP, Coastal Carolina (26)
Meo threw a no-hitter in the opening game of his conference tournament and he does have the power stuff to dominate a lineup. He's got the chance to have a plus fastball and slider, but with a changeup that lags behind and a high degree of effort put into his delivery, many see him as a short reliever at the next level.
Matthew Purke, LHP, TCU (27)
It's difficult to know what to make of Purke. The Draft-eligible sophomore entered the year as the top lefty in the class, but a shoulder issue put his status in doubt. He's returned to the mound, but whether there is enough time to convince teams he's OK remains to be seen. He could head to the Cape Cod League after being drafted, like Anthony Ranaudo (Red Sox) did last year.
John Stilson, RHP, Texas A&M (28)
Stilson entered the year as an intriguing pitcher whom most felt belonged in a bullpen. After serving as A&M's Friday starter this year, though, he may have more than a few teams that will at least be willing to let him begin his pro career as a starter. He's got two plus pitches (fastball and changeup), enough to be a closer, but his breaking stuff is at least serviceable and some team in the second half of the first round might be willing to give him a shot at being in a rotation.
Andrew Chafin, LHP, Kent State (39)
Chafin returned from 2009 Tommy John surgery to not only pitch in 2011, but to pitch very well as Kent State's Friday starter. That moved him into the first-round picture before he missed some time late in the spring with arm soreness and then a lat strain. When healthy, he's shown glimpses of having four pitches in his arsenal. If he can finish strongly, he could still sneak into the end of the first round, but he is a sandwich pick at the very least.
Chris Reed, LHP, Stanford (46)
Reed has been Stanford's closer out of need more than anything else and more than one scout believes he's got the stuff to start. Reed relies on a plus fastball and excellent slider, but he also has the chance to have a plus changeup -- more than enough to be a starter. The team that takes him -- and his name has been sneaking into first-round discussions -- might send him out as a starter knowing they can always shorten him to be an effective short reliever down the road.