Pirates take UCLA’s Cole with No. 1 pick
SECAUCUS, N.J. The Pittsburgh Pirates wanted Gerrit Cole’s blazing fastball blowing away hitters for them.
In a baseball draft dominated early by outstanding pitching prospects, the Pirates were convinced Cole was the best of the bunch and took the UCLA right-hander with the No. 1 pick Monday night.
“We felt he’d have the biggest potential impact for us of anybody on the board,” general manager Neal Huntington said.
Cole, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior, posted mediocre numbers this season for the Bruins (6-8, 3.31 ERA), but has what many consider to be the best pure stuff in the draft. He’s the latest promising young arm that Pittsburgh, which finished with baseball’s worst record a year ago, has added in the last two drafts.
The Pirates took a pair of high school right-handers with their first two picks last year in Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie, giving them three potential front-line starters.
Cole’s teammate on the UCLA staff, right-hander Trevor Bauer, wasn’t far behind, going third overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The only other time a pair of teammates went in the top three picks was 1978, when Arizona State’s Bob Horner was selected No. 1 by Atlanta and Hubie Brooks went third to the New York Mets.
The Pirates, picking No. 1 for the fourth time in franchise history, are hoping Cole ends up being the ace of their pitching staff. He has a fastball that’s consistently clocked at 95 mph and was up around 100 at times late this season. Cole’s changeup and slider are also outstanding.
With the second choice, the Seattle Mariners tabbed Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen.
Hultzen, a junior, is 11-3 with a 1.57 ERA and 148 strikeouts while leading the top-ranked Cavaliers to the super regionals of the NCAA tournament.
Arizona, which had two of the first seven picks, grabbed Bauer at No. 3. The Pac-10 pitcher of the year went 13-2 with a 1.25 ERA and a Division I-leading and Pac-10-record 203 strikeouts.
With the seventh pick, the Diamondbacks took another pitcher in right-hander Archie Bradley from Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma.
At No. 4, Baltimore selected Dylan Bundy, another high school pitcher from Oklahoma.
It was the first time since the amateur draft began in 1965 that the first four selections were all pitchers. Of the 33 picks in the first round, 19 were pitchers—one shy of the draft record set in 1999 and matched in 2001. (Draft list, Page 2B)
Kansas City ended the run on the mound at No. 5 by taking a local high school outfielder in Bubba Starling.