In 2011, the Pirates, Mariners, and Diamondbacks had the first, second, and third picks respectively. Each team took a college pitcher. The Pirates took Gerrit Cole, a right-hander out of UCLA. The Mariners took Danny Hultzen, a left-hander out of Virginia. The Diamondbacks took Trevor Bauer, also a right-hander out of UCLA.
It was recently announced that Bauer will make his Major League debut this week. Danny Hultzen is also expected to make his first Major League start this season. Some even predict that it may come before the all-star break. In contrast, Cole was just promoted to double a.
I have a feeling that a big deal will be made about how the Pirates past on these guys in favor of Cole when they have made it to the big leagues ahead of him. To my mind, this is not a legitimate criticism.
Cole may end up being a bad pick who ends up worse than Bauer and Hultzen, but if he does it will not be because they beat him to the majors. It will be because they become top of the rotation guys and he does not. Cole was never considered to be the most major-league ready pitcher of the trio, Hultzen was. Instead, the Pirates drafted Cole because he has the highest ceiling. Cole is often said to have the potential to be a true ace. Hultzen, by contrast, is said to have a low ceiling, but also a relatively low floor, for his talent level. If Cole had been drafted because he was considered close to major league ready, then this would be a problem. As it is, any objection to the pick of Cole because of Hultzen and Bauer’s arrival in the majors will be flawed.