Within a blink of an eye the 2011 draft will be upon us. Acclaimed as an extremely talented draft, there are many intriguing amateur ball players to discuss. Yet, one question stands out. Anthony Rendon or Gerrit Cole?
Seattle Mariners General Manger Jack Zduriencik stands in an enviable position, he doesn't have to make one of the hardest draft decisions in recent memory. That task falls to Pirates GM Neil Huntington.
What name should the Commissioner call for the Pirates come June? Research suggests Rendon, however some notable scouts and prospectors disagree.
The draft has been researched extensively by Rany Jazayerli, Victor Wang, Nate Silver, and many others. But, those great pieces don't really help us much today. Jeremy Greenhouse illustrates a simple case for Rendon:
"Between 1987 and 2007, 12 position players were chosen first overall and 10 became All-Stars. Of the nine pitchers, only two became All-Stars."
Jeremy's point is supported by research that presented here at Beyond the Boxscore almost two years ago by Sky Kalkman. For 2012 prospect lists, both Rendon and Cole project as top 10 prospects. And by looking at Sky's chart (based in part of Wang's initial prospect analysis), you can see that Baseball America's top 10 hitters have been worth roughly 2.5 times more than pitchers Baseball America ranked in the top 10 over the same period of time.
Certainly though, not all of Baseball America's top 10 prospects are equal. And the difference between the the two is important for notable prospect writers like Jason Parks and Keith Law. From Jeremy's piece:
"Cole is a no-brainer," Parks says. "Even though all the data backs up taking Rendon, Cole gives me the opportunity to go get a legit No. 1. You can't acquire that on the free agent market, it's difficult to trade for one.
Keith Law did not discuss the research as Parks did, but he too is on record preferring Cole. Law wrote in mid-March:
Cole's performance, coupled with his size, athleticism and delivery, cemented his status as the top college arm in this draft -- and it illuminated many of the reasons he compares favorably to Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals.
High praise from two very respected writers.
But, I won't belabor the point about Cole's excellence. Though, let us not be so quick to forget how great Rendon is as well.
In concluding part I of a fantastic two part series on the Rice third baseman Steve Carter of Project Prospect said:
To reiterate what Veteran Scout said earlier: "Plus power, plus hit tool, plus arm, solid glove" and a mechanically fantastic swing to boot. On top of all that, he adds in outstanding patience at the plate. He doesn't just dictate the at-bat the second he walks into the box, he rules it with an iron fist. Rendon has a great understanding of the strike zone, is disciplined, and has the swing built to optimize pitch tracking, quickness and raw bat speed. He has everything needed to be an all-star level player in the Major Leagues and has earned every bit of his candidacy to go No. 1 overall in the 2011 draft.
Knowing what you know now, if you were in Neil Huntington's shoes, who would you take?
JD Sussman is full time law student and co-founder of Bullpen Banter. He can be reached at JDSussman@bullpenbanter.com or via twitter.