This could very well be the first time since 2008 that in mid-May we don't officially know which top amateur will be crowned with the first overall selection. The Pirates, who have the first pick in the 2011 draft made headlines last night after Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette tweeted word from a source that the Pirates are seriously considering Dylan Bundy, an Oklahoma high school right-hander considered by most as a "phenom."
To make this clear, before we go on, I'm hearing from a trustworthy source that the Pirates are NOT going to select Dylan Bundy with the first overall selection.
However, it's worth at least discussing the fallout of such a move, that be the Pirates potentially selecting Dylan Bundy and not Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon with the top pick. Crazier things have definitely happened in the past at the top of the draft board and if this does take place, despite it being a surprise it wouldn't be all that crazy.
I think the most interesting discussion that should arise from the news is Gerrit Cole's fate, the projected number one pick for a few months now and clearly the best pitcher in the draft. After Cole, Anthony Rendon, Danny Hultzen, Bubba Starling, and Trevor Bauer are a few names who could highlight the next group of names selected and at this present time most teams if not all are throwing name magnets in the trash and narrowing down their ideal choices to just a few. So what does this shakeup look like, you ask?
Most teams for which it seems envision Gerrit Cole's name to be announced by Selig as the first overall pick in the draft. In fact, just about every team sans the Marinersand Buccos are planning accordingly as if they have the chance to take any top amateur except Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole. While teams with the top pick (1-10) never take a player because of position scarcity or lack of depth at that position in the minors (basically, you take the best available player with the top pick), it has been known that Kevin Towers and his crew have been largely connected to Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen thus even if they weren't, Anthony Rendon hasn't been connected to them at all. They have, however, been connected to Bubba Starling, another high school superstar with sky's the limit power and more upside than almost any player currently making his way through every echolon of Minor League Baseball.
So let's do our own little draft simulation here. Bundy goes number one (which again, he won't), the Mariners then select Gerrit Cole at number two, and now this is where it gets hard...
The Diamondbacks, who are next on the clock have have Danny Hultzen, Anthony Rendon, Trevor Bauer, Jed Bradley, Sonny Gray, and of course, Bubba Starling just waiting to get picked. I think the more interesting aspect of this is not who the Diamondbacks will take, but who the Orioles and Royals will have the chance to select thereafter. As it goes, the Orioles, Royals, and Nationals pick in order after the Diamondbacks -- Followed by the Diamondbacks again (due to failure of signing last year's pick Barret Loux), the Indians, and the Cubs. Meanwhile, the aforementioned group of players available includues the likes of Francisco Lindor, Archie Bradley, George Springer, Taylor Jungmann, and Matt Barnes just to name a few more.
Back to the Diamondbacks and the third overall pick, let's say they take Danny Hultzen (again, just speculating). The Orioles then take Jed Bradley (who Jim Callis expects them to select if he makes it to their spot. Not Anthony Rendon). The O's will look for a pitcher regardless of who's on the board, not because of lack of pitching depth -- It's just their plan.
So here's the tricky situation: The Royals are on the board next and have the choice between a college pitcher to whom they've been said to be on the lookout for or Anthony Rendon, the star studded third baseman who has had on and off injury issues since August of last year. Regardless of their choice should this situation come to fruition, it's still interesting looking at the fallout of Bundy potentially going number one and how it shakes up the picks from the start of the draft to the middle of the first round. Teams sometimes take until the last minute to make their choice on who they're choosing (Moneyball, Moneyball, MONEYBALL!) and this year's draft might make for a story of it's own.
As I said, I'm hearing that Bundy will not go number one and am confident in my source, but one of the greatest aspects of the Rule 4 Draft is pondering each and every team's options and inputting your hopes and expectations to good use.
Well, I guess we'll just have to see what happens...