Pitching dominates first round of Draft
UCLA pitchers Cole, Bauer selected first, third
SECAUCUS, N.J. -- One college program became the face of baseball's future Monday, when two UCLA arms made history by pacing a pitching-rich haul at the top of the First-Year Player Draft.
Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer were both selected in the first three picks of the Draft, setting a trend that started early and carried through the rest of the night. The first four players selected were all pitchers for the first time ever, and 12 arms had been taken by the time the Draft pulled through 20 picks.
The choices of Cole and Bauer, respectively selected by Pittsburgh and Arizona, marked the first time since 1978 that two college teammates had been taken in the top three picks of the Draft. Arizona State had earned the honor last time, with Bob Horner and Hubie Brooks taken first and third overall.
Cole, who went 6-8 with a 3.31 ERA for UCLA as a junior, gives the Pirates another potential high-impact arm in the farm system to pair with fast-rising Jameson Taillon, last year's second overall draftee.
And by doing so, he validated a bet that he had made on himself. Cole was taken 28th overall by the Yankees out of high school in 2008, but instead chose to attend UCLA and further mature as a player. Now, he comes out of school with some inherently valuable experience and with vastly improved Draft stock.
Pitching, no doubt, was the theme of the night. Pitchers had been taken with the top two picks in the Draft on just two prior occasions (in 1976 and 2006). Nineteen pitchers -- 13 right-handers and six left-handers -- went in the first round, which put this Draft one shy of the record set in 1999 and equaled in 2001.
Some other trends made themselves evident as the night progressed. Fifteen of the 34 first-rounders came from the prep ranks, but only one catcher went in the opening round. The state of California produced six first-round draftees, but in an odd twist, only one of them was a high school position player.
|1||PIT||RHP Gerrit Cole|
|2||SEA||LHP Danny Hultzen|
|3||ARI||RHP Trevor Bauer|
|4||BAL||RHP Dylan Bundy|
|5||KC||OF Bubba Starling|
|6||WAS||3B Anthony Rendon|
|7||ARI||RHP Archie Bradley|
|8||CLE||SS Francisco Lindor|
|9||CHC||SS Javier Baez|
|10||SD||2B Cory Spangenberg|
|11||HOU||OF George Springer|
|12||MIL||RHP Taylor Jungmann|
|13||NYM||OF Brandon Nimmo|
|14||FLA||RHP Jose Fernandez|
|15||MIL||LHP Jed Bradley|
|16||LAD||LHP Chris Reed|
|17||LAA||1B C.J. Cron|
|18||OAK||RHP Sonny Gray|
|19||BOS||RHP Matt Barnes|
|20||COL||LHP Tyler Anderson|
|21||TOR||RHP Tyler Beede|
|22||STL||2B Kolten Wong|
|23||WAS||RHP Alex Meyer|
|24||TB||RHP Taylor Guerrieri|
|25||SD||RHP Joe Ross|
|26||BOS||C Blake Swihart|
|27||CIN||RHP Robert Stephenson|
|28||ATL||LHP Sean Gilmartin|
|29||SF||SS Joe Panik|
|30||MIN||SS Levi Michael|
|31||TB||OF Mikie Mahtook|
|32||TB||SS Jake Hager|
|33||TEX||LHP Kevin Matthews|
The first surprise of the night came with the second pick, when Seattle opted for Danny Hultzen over highly touted Anthony Rendon. The Mariners had been linked to Rendon in much of the run-up to the Draft, and by selecting Hultzen, they sent the teams behind them into instant scramble mode.
Seattle had reason to do so, nabbing a pitcher who had rapidly risen up the Draft boards. Hultzen leapt to prominence with a junior season that saw him post an 11-3 record with a 1.57 ERA for the University of Virginia, and he further distinguished himself by ranking second nationally in strikeouts (148).
Arizona, which would pick again at seventh overall, stuck to its strategy and went for the best available arm. That meant Bauer, in this case, making it three straight college pitchers at the top of the Draft. Bauer went 13-2 with a 1.25 ERA this season, and he held opposing hitters to a .154 batting average.
The trend for pitchers at the top of the Draft continued with Baltimore, which made a slight variation on the theme by nabbing prep arm Dylan Bundy with the fourth pick. Bundy, the Gatorade National Player of the Year, will get to join an organization that had previously picked his brother, Bobby, in 2008.
The younger Bundy posted an 11-0 record and an amazing 0.20 ERA in his senior year, jousting with fellow Oklahoma native Archie Bradley as the top prep pitchers in the class. Bradley's team beat Bundy's in the state playoffs, but the youngster had to settle for being chosen four picks after his friend and rival.
Kansas City, believed to be looking for another pitching prospect, introduced another surprise with the fifth pick. The Royals took a local standout in prep outfielder Bubba Starling, who has committed to play quarterback at the University of Nebraska. Starling is regarded as a potential five-tool talent.
Rendon saw his wait end with the sixth pick, courtesy of a choice by the suddenly talent-rich Washington Nationals. Rendon, a third baseman out of Rice University, celebrated his 21st birthday Monday, and he'll join an organization that already includes top prospects Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.
Arizona added to its pitching stockpile again with the seventh overall pick by taking Bradley, and then Cleveland and the Cubs started selected high school shortstops Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez. San Diego rounded out the top 10 by choosing junior college infielder Cory Spangenberg.
Five prep players went in the top 10, which was split evenly between pitchers and hitters. The Draft began to tilt back toward college in the middle of the round, specifically with pick 15. Starting with southpaw Jed Bradley, a Milwaukee draftee, six straight college players were drafted, five of whom were pitchers.
The pitching trend continued, with just three position players selected between the 14th and the 28th selections. Standout second baseman Kolten Wong, out of the University of Hawaii, was one of the exceptions in that range. Wong, a native of Hilo, Hi., was selected 22nd overall by the Cardinals.
The University of Connecticut, which had just one first-round draftee in the history of its program prior to Monday night, doubled that output in the first 20 picks. Houston took outfielder George Springer with the 10th overall pick, and Boston nabbed his teammate, right-handed pitcher Matt Barnes, at No. 19.
Tampa Bay chose three times in the first round, thanks to compensatory picks for losing Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano in free agency. The Rays took pitcher Tyler Guerreri, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and infielder Jake Hager with their first three picks, and they had seven more lined up for the supplemental round.
Tampa Bay's supplemental round bounty included prep players Brandon Martin, Tyler Goeddel and James Harris, and they also selected pitchers Jeff Ames, Blake Snell and Garvin Grayson.
Two names from familiar families were drafted in Monday's first round. The Angels took college slugger C.J. Cron -- son of former big leaguer Chris Cron -- with the 17th pick in the Draft. Eight picks later, San Diego chose prep arm Joe Ross, the younger brother of Oakland pitcher Tyson Ross.
Two other family names -- Dante Bichette Jr. and Dwight Smith Jr. -- were taken in the supplemental round. Bichette, taken by the Yankees, is the son of four-time All-Star Dante Bichette Sr., while Smith's dad, Dwight Smith, was a runner-up in the Rookie of the Year balloting and spent eight years in the Majors.
The First-Year Player Draft will continue on Tuesday at noon via conference call and is expected to carry through the 30th round. After that, the Draft will resume Wednesday at noon and will conclude after the 50th round of picks or alternatively whenever all 30 teams have elected to pass on a selection.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.