Gerrit Cole: Who Will Be #1?

The clock continues to count down toward the 2011 MLB Draft. Here is the second part of my series taking a look at who the Pirates might take first overall.

Gerrit Cole

Height/Weight/Age: 6’4″/220/20

Position: Pitcher

School: UCLA

Scouting Report:

A pitcher that fits the workhorse and power pitcher roles, Cole is a rare combination of finesse and strength. With a fastball that averages in the mid to upper 90s that can top out at 99-100 MPH, and a devastating slider, Gerrit features an arsenal of pitches that can rack up a ton of swings and misses. He also features a strong arm that lets him go deep into games regularly and eat innings. In 15 2011 starts, he has gone 6-7 with a 3.28 ERA while striking out 108 batters in 107 innings.

Why the Pirates will draft him

Depth– Yes the Pirates drafted pitcher Jameson Taillon with the 2nd pick last year, but with pitching being such an unpredictable position, it’s better to have two high-potential arms than one, especially if the injury bug hits one of them.

Potential for a devastating rotation– Assuming both Taillon and Cole develop, the Pirates would have a ridiculously good top of the rotation that would feature two aces.

Why the Pirates won’t draft him

Workload– Since Cole has pitched so much in college, it would be likely that the team limits his innings pitched for at least the first year in the organization. While this may prevent injury, not pitching regularly may hinder his development.

Danny Hultzen– Though Cole has great potential to develop into a good pitcher, he hasn’t dominated college hitters quite like Danny Hultzen of Virginia. The fat that Hultzen is also a lefty will also make them look long and hard at him before pulling the trigger on someone else.

Anthony Rendon: Who Will Be #1?

In a few short weeks, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be making the first selection in the 2011 MLB Draft. Being that this draft is being viewed by many in the baseball world as one of the deepest in recent memory. Since the Pirates can go in numerous different directions, the next week or so will feature posts profiling the different prospects the Buccos may select. This one is dedicated to Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon.

Anthony Rendon

Height/Weight/Age: 5’11″/190/20

Position: Third Base

School: Rice University

Scouting Report:

For being such a small player, Rendon packs a lot of punch. In 2010, he hit .394  with 26 HR and 85 RBI. In both 2010 and 2011 he has had an OPS of over 1.000. Has tremendous patience, as he has drawn 76 walks in 56 games in 2011.  Was unanimous selection to be top pick in 2011 before ankle injury in international play in late 2010. Tremendous fielder who has great range, and good arm.

Why the Pirates will select him.

Offense– There is no question the Pirates could use a player like Rendon in their lineup. He is a gifted hitter with power that would compliment the speed of McCutchen and Tabata, with a better ability to hit for average than Pedro Alvarez.

Major league readiness– The fact that he will be 21 by draft day, coupled with his advanced skills, Rendon will be up here sooner than later.

Move Pedro Alvarez to first base– Drafting Rendon will make sure there will be a capable player at the hot corner when the time comes for Alvarez’s inevitable move to first base.

Why the Pirates won’t select him.

 Scott Boras– Rendon has hired notorious agen Scott Boras to represent him. He and the Pirates aren’t on good terms after the Pedro Alvarez signing saga in 2008. There is a chance the team will want to avoid the chance of another soap opera when trying to sign Rendon.

Health– This pick would have been a no brainer before he shattered his ankle playing for team USA late last summer. There are still reports of him not being 100%. The Pirates will need to take a long look at his long health before going all-in.

Is he for real?– Certainly his 2010 season was eye-opening, however, he has seen a lot of regression in 2011. After 26 home runs last season, he only has five this year. In his defense, teams have begun pitching around him like Barry Bonds, resulting in a ridiculously high number of walks.

Final Verdict

The case for Anthony Rendon is certainly a curious one. He is the best all around offensive player in the draft. Unfortunately, there is also a tremendous amount of risk that goes into selecting him, as nothing will be guaranteed. Something tells me the Pirates will be looking for more of a sure bet with the money that will be at stake.

Stay tuned for my next post on UCLA pitcher Garrett Cole.

As it happens: Ohio-Miami baseball liveblog

Posted up at Bob Wren Stadium for the Ohio-Miami baseball game. It’s senior day, and the ‘Cats need a win, and for Buffalo to sweep Bowling Green in a doubleheader to get the last spot in the MAC tourney. Keep it here for updates.

3:00- Scoreboard watching is going to be the theme today, as the Bobcats hopes at a MAC tourney appearance lies in the hands of the Buffalo Bulls. Game one is currently tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 8th.

3:07- As first pitch is thrown, the team is definitely pumped for this one. Whole team is on the edge of the dugout being very vocal.

3:12- About as bad of a start that you could ask for. A hit batter, error by third baseman Dan Ward, a wild pitch, and then a home run by Kyle Weldon has Miami up 3-0 after three batters.

3:19- Bobcats are going to have to break out the bats, problem is Miami has saved pitcher Brooks Fiala for today. He’s 6-4 with a 2.43 ERA.

3:26- Leadoff single by Ethan Newton, but the Bobcats can’t make a rally out of it. 3-0 after one inning.

3:36- I just found out that Ohio is one of three MAC teams that has lights at their field. That’s pretty bad that 75% of a Division I conference cannot play night games.

3:46- After retiring 8 straight Bobcats, Fiala gives up a double to Ethan Newton. Other than Newton, no one seems to be able to get good contact of of him.

3:48- Two out lightning has begun. After the Newton double, Gecewich singles him home. 3-1 Miami in the bottom of the third.

3:51- Barnes single and a bobble by the right fielder Ryan Curl allows Gecewich to move up to third.

3:55- Moulton has settled down since his shaky first. Getting a lot of outs on the ground.

3:59- Miami running at will on the Bobcats. A big strikeout of Edington keeps the score 3-1.

4:05- Doubles by Jensen Painter and Dan Ward cut it down to 3-2. Buffalo and Bowling Green going to the bottom of the 12th in the first game of their twinbill still tied at 2.

4:11- Quite the turn of events. Moments after a walk-off home run by Buffalo, a dropped fly ball in center by Miami allows the tying run to score. Fiala is done after 3.2 innings.

4:26- Halfway home at the Wren. Setting up for a good finish.

4:30- Bobcats able to manufacture a run to get the lead. Single by Bryan Barnes, a sac bunt by Kory Burkhart, then a clutch single by Taylor Emody puts Ohio up 4-3.

4:47- Not good news for the Bobcats as Bowling Green is up 2-0 on Buffalo early.

4:50- Huge play by the Bobcats defense stopping a squeeze play then getting the 5-4-3 DP to get out of the jam. Moulton continues to get the big outs.

5:01- Sorry folks but the laptop is dying. Look to my Twitter for updates the rest of the way. Recap will be on tonight.

A.J. West signs with Duquesne

The Duquesne Dukes got another commit for 2011, 6’8″ forward A.J. West from New Jersey. I covered the story for SB Nation Pittsburgh, you can read about it HERE.

Jaromir Jagr comeback: fact or fiction?

With the Penguins’ season coming to such an early end, the rumors surrounding who they are going to pick up in free agency are growing loud.

Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review pulled up an interesting nugget that the Penguins have reached out to former star Jaromir Jagr to see if he would like to be a part of the festivities celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1991 Stanley Cup Champions. While it was reported that team asked that he be there for a reunion golf outing this summer, this hasn’t stopped the rumor mill of a possible return to Pittsburgh from turning.

Jaromir has always had a love with the city of Pittsburgh, going back to him being drafted by the team. Though the relationship soured toward the end of his days, here, requesting a trade in 2001, I firmly believe that he would be open to coming back.

Despite being 39, he had a great performance recently in the World Hockey Championships, scoring a hat trick to eliminate the United States in the quarterfinals. While many players go for a swan song at the end of their careers, Jagr could contribute to the Penguins being a more competitive team.

He is no longer under contract by the KHL (Russia), so he could be contacted by any team in any league.

The team is planning on retiring his number as soon as he announces that he is hanging it up. With five scoring titles and one MVP trophy, he was one of the most dynamic players this franchise ever saw. Think how much better would it be with him ending it with one more go around with the team that he made his name with.

Lemonade Man passes away

Every stadium has its characters that make it unique.

For the past few decades, the venues in Pittsburgh have been brightened up by the personality of Kenny Geibel, better known as the Lemonade/Cotton Candy man.

I first remember hearing his loud, shrill calls of “Coke ‘ere” and his trademark phrase “take it easy,” at Three Rivers Stadium when I was young. After the move to PNC Park, he traded in his Coke bottles for lemonade. Once the YouTube age began, videos of him spread like wildfire across the city, making him a cult celebrity.

He was a father of three and a grandfather of two.

Perhaps Pirate blogger Matt Peaslee said it best on Twitter today: “Take it easy up there, buddy”

Back at .500 (and it feels so good)

For 29 of the 30 teams in the MLB, winning as many games as you lose isn’t really the primary goal of a team’s season. For the Pittsburgh Pirates however, a vicious string of 18 consecutive seasons below .500, fans are clamoring for the team to just be respectable, let alone competitive for a championship.

Today, after beating the Astros 5-4, the Pirates are 17-17. This is the latest the Pirates have been at or above .500 since the 2005 season when they hit the mark in June.

With the team basically written off before the season started, how have they hung around?

The starting pitching to this point has carried the team. The resurgence of Charlie Morton and the consistent play of Kevin Correia has guaranteed that the Pirates will have a chance when they take the mound. After a rough start to the season, James McDonald has settled in. The bullpen has been surprisingly good.

The offense is still problematic from time to time, but they have been getting just enough to get by. Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen, two players who were expected to carry the offense, have struggled so far this year.

With that said, the question still remains, can the team keep it up? While I am a fan, I can’t see the Pirates continuing at this pace. The pitching, especially the bullpen, is due to regress. Unless the offense can pull it together on a regular basis, they will lose more close games.

With this cautious optimism in mind, I am really looking forward to the next couple of weeks to see how it plays out.