June 6, 2011

Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

If there's ever any doubt about what's more important in baseball, the annual MLB entry draft always solves it.

Pitching, pitching and more pitching is the key.

Top hitters can go high - see last year with Bryce Harper or years before with Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey, Jr. - but generally pitching rules.

This year is no exception.

The top pick, Gerrit Cole, is a pitcher from UCLA and more than half of the top-10 picks figure to be potential aces.

With that, a pick-by-pick look at the first round:

1. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pick: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
The Buzz: The Pirates brass have to hope that they got it right with this one. The organization's last two No. 1 overall picks were Kris Benson and Bryan Bullington and neither grew into the projections each had at the time. Cole is a power pitcher that, despite a losing record on the season, has shown the ability to become a frontline starter.
2. Seattle Mariners
The Pick: Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia
The Buzz: Hultzen has had what might be been the best season of any player in college baseball this year. Scouts had him pegged as a No. 3 starter that can progress through the minors quickly. He has been tabbed as the pitcher with the most polish in the entire draft.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Pick: Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA
The Buzz: Bauer is a true power pitcher that can get into the triple digits on the radar game. He has led the NCAA in strikeouts over the last two seasons. He had over 200 strikeouts and less than 40 walks on the season. His training regimen, including using long toss, has been questioned but the Diamondbacks support his system.
4. Baltimore Orioles
The Pick: Dylan Bundy. RHP, Owasso (Okla.) High
The Buzz: Bundy's older brother is already in the Orioles farm system and so this pick keeps it all in the family. Bundy, like Trevor Bauer, uses a long toss regimen that some teams had backed off of him. He only walked four players all season, leading his team to a state runner-up in Oklahoma.
5. Kansas City Royals
The Pick: Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner (Kan.) Gardner-Edgerton
The Buzz: The Royals have so much good young talent in their system that it was easy to pass on Anthony Rendon - who would have been behind Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer in the minors. Everyone in Kansas City wanted to get the local kid and they have him. Starling, a Nebraska football commit, could be patrolling center field for years to come.
6. Washington Nationals
The Pick: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice
The Buzz: Rendon, on his 21st birthday, fell to the Nationals. Washington would have never bet he would fall this far. Rendon was the 2010 National Player of the Year in the NCAA and has been compared to Ryan Zimmerman and Evan Longoria. He can slide to the right side of the infield if the Nationals so desire.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks - For Failure to sign Barrett Loux
The Pick: Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow (Okla.) High
The Buzz: The Diamondbacks scouted Bradley hard all season and love his stuff. The organization must feel very good about being able to sign the Oklahoma football commit as the Diamondbacks would not get a compensation pick if they are unable to sign him. He finished his high school season with a state title that could also turn into a national championship.
8. Cleveland Indians
The Pick: Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde (Fla.) Montverde Academy
The Buzz: This was the only pick the Indians could have made at this spot. The farm system has been barren of shortstop talent and Lindor was the No. 1 high school prospect overall this season. He has been drawing comparisons to Omar Vizquel, both with his range and his batting. He will likely need three or four years in the minors but, at only 17, that is not a problem.
9. Chicago Cubs
The Pick: Javier Baez, SS, Jacksonville (Fla.) Arlington Country Day
The Buzz: The Cubs, as they have been known to do, go off the board with this pick grabbing Baez. The Cubs had been tied to many teams and they take Baez maybe a little early. His bat and body type will likely force him to slide over to third base.
10. San Diego Padres - For failure to sign Karsten Whitson
The Pick: Cory Spangenberg, 2B/3B, Indian Rivers Junior College
The Buzz: Spangenberg was one of the fastest-rising prospects over the last month of the season, jumping into the Top 10. He was the Junior College Player of the Year and can play multiple positions. He uniquely hits left-handed while being a slick fielder who throws right.
11. Houston Astros
The Pick: George Springer, OF, Connecticut
The Buzz: Springer is the best college athlete in the draft and is a great pick for the Astros, a team that reached on all three first-round picks last year. Springer can stay in center field and could develop into a perennial All-Star. He hits for average, moderate power, and can steal plenty of bases.
12. Milwaukee Brewers
The Pick: Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
The Buzz: The Brewers were likely looking right at Springer before he was taken by the Astros. Grabbing Jungmann is a smart move as the 6-foot-6 pitcher has developed into a workhorse for the Longhorns. His 2011 season was maybe bettered only by Danny Hultzen. He could progress quickly through the minors as he is a well-developed player.
13. New York Mets
The Pick: Brandon Nimmo, OF, Cheyenne (Wyo.) East
The Buzz: The Mets grab Nimmo as a high risk, high reward option. The team was looking to go with an outfield selection and Nimmo's ceiling is high. Wyoming doesn't have high school baseball so Nimmo was limited to only playing Legion ball. The Mets last took a high school outfielder with Lastings Milledge.
14. Florida Marlins
The Pick: Jose Fernandez, RHP, Tampa (Fla.) Alonso
The Buzz: The Marlins have gone with a high school player in eight of their last 11 first round picks, so getting Fernandez was no surprise. A Cuban defector when he was young, Fernandez was nearly never able to play baseball again. He has four pitches that he throws effectively and could progress to a solid No. 2 pitcher.
15. Milwaukee Brewers - For failure to sign Dylan Covey
The Pick: Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech
The Buzz: An unprotected pick and the Brewers grab another college pitcher. The farm system needs restocked after giving up a lot to land Greinke and taking two pitchers early addresses that. Bradley has a lot of raw talent but has fought with control issues.
16. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Pick: Chris Reed, LHP, Stanford
The Buzz: Reed made a huge splash this season as the Cardinal closer, converting nine saves. His selection is a bit of a surprise this high but Reed, with his change up, could either be stretched out to a starter or stay in the bullpen.
17. LA Angels of Anaheim
The Pick: CJ Cron, 1B/DH, Utah
The Buzz: The Angels went with all high-schoolers with their three first-round picks last year and this year they grab Cron - their first college first-rounder since Jered Weaver. His bat is his clear strength and his defense is suspect at best. The Angels may have drafted a long-term DH if they can not coach him into being a first baseman.
18. Oakland Athletics
The Pick: Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Buzz: Small in stature at 5-foot-11, Gray more than makes up for his size with competitiveness. He could be quick to the big leagues as a bullpen pitcher, but the A's may give him a look at a starter. He has a lot of similarity to former Oakland A's star, Tim Hudson. His fastball/curveball combo is very effective.
19. Boston Red Sox - Compensation for Detroit signing Victor Martinez
The Pick: Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut
The Buzz: Barnes had graded out as high as a Top 5 overall pitcher. Barnes was stellar in the Cape Cod League last year, and showing his stuff in Boston's backyard thrust him up the draft board. The Red Sox figured to take a college pitcher at this spot and grabbed a fantastic pitcher with very little wear on his arm.
20. Colorado Rockies
The Pick: Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon
The Buzz: Colorado has selected a college player in seven of its last eight first rounds. Anderson could be the best pitcher ever to come out of the University of Oregon, owning nearly the entire record book. Despite the Ducks being a slight disappointment this year, he was an amazing bright spot.
21. Toronto Blue Jays
The Pick: Tyler Beede, RHP, Auburn (Mass.) Lawrence Academy
The Buzz: Beede is a power pitcher out of Massachusetts who was at highest projected to go at No. 24, so this is a bit of a stretch. He is a solid athlete committed to playing at Vanderbilt and may still stick with that commitment. He has a projectable frame as well as several potential plus pitches.
22. St. Louis Cardinals
The Pick: Kolten Wong, 2B, Hawaii
The Buzz: Wong is one of the top pure hitters and a real grinder. His defense is still developing as he moved from catcher a few years back. His bat is his strength and he could be a long-term Jose Vidro-type player with high batting average and decent ability all around.
23. Washington Nationals - Compensation for White Sox signing Adam Dunn
The Pick: Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky
The Buzz: With Rendon falling to the Nationals at No. 6, the team had to take an arm at this spot. The 6-foot-9 pitcher may be the best pitcher to ever come out of the University of Kentucky. He is a power arm that had mixed results until he got under control this season. Matching Meyer, Strasburg and Zimmerman is a nice trio to have.
24. Tampa Bay Rays - Compensation for Boston signing Carl Crawford
The Pick: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, North Augusta (S.C.) Spring Valley
The Buzz: Guerrieri was not thought of as a first-round pick until he started touching triple digits on the radar gun at summer showcases before his senior year. The upside on this pick is huge as Guerrieri had been as high as a Top 10 pick. The Rays have nine more picks this round but have now taken a high schooler with their first round pick each of the last four years.
25. San Diego Padres
The Pick: Joe Ross, RHP, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd
The Buzz: Ross is a UCLA commit and has a lot of tools. He was thought to be a fringe first-round pick, but his showing in the early rounds of the CIF playoffs could have opened some more eyes late in the process. The Padres took a bat with their first pick and so an arm was expected here. Ross is just as good as any left on the board.
26. Boston Red Sox - Compensation for Texas signing Adrian Beltre
The Pick: Blake Swihart, C, Rio Rancho (N.M.) Cleveland
The Buzz: The switch-hitting catcher is the best available catcher in the draft and the Red Sox grab the position of need. Swihart is a very solid commitment to Texas and it could take a lot to buy him out of that. The Red Sox have the money, but Swihart will still have the final say with the Horns being a dream school for him.
27. Cincinnati Reds
The Pick: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Martinez (Calif.) Alhambra
The Buzz: Stephenson was 8-2 with back-to-back no-hitters in his senior season. He has a solid frame with two plus pitches - his fastball and breaking ball. His signability is not a question and that could have led to this pick for the Reds. Stephenson was rated as the No. 18 overall player in his high school class and does not look to stick with his commitment to play at Washington.
28. Atlanta Braves
The Pick: Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Florida State
The Buzz: Gilmartin has been the ace of the Seminoles and had the fourth-lowest ERA of any college player this season. He said he patterns his game after former Brave Tom Glavine. The pick is a little off the normal path for the Braves, as the organization had gone with a high school player in 17 of its last 20 drafts.
29. San Francisco Giants
The Pick: Joe Panik, SS, St. John's
The Buzz: Panik was not thought to be a first-round pick but is a pure fundamental player. The Giants had not taken a middle infielder with a first round pick since 1988. He hit nearly .400 for the Red Storm this year and dramatically improved his stock after going undrafted out of high school.
30. Minnesota Twins
The Pick: Levi Michael, SS, North Carolina
The Buzz: Michael has been a do-everything player in college. The switch hitter has played 2B, SS, and 3B while on campus and done them all well. He has moderate power but very good bat control and a fantastic eye. His aggressiveness on the base paths is something scouts like. This is a near-perfect fit for the Twins organization.
31. Tampa Bay Rays - Compensation for Yankees signing Rafael Soriano
The Pick: Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU
The Buzz: Mahtook has been reviewed as a player with very solid overall skills and could blossom into an above-average major league player. At this point of the draft, this is a great value pick by the Rays which have been drafting exceptionally well of late.
32. Tampa Bay Rays
The Pick: Jake Hager, SS, Las Vegas (Nev.) Sierra Vista
The Buzz: Hager was not expected to be a first-round pick. He hit .547 as a senior and is commited to Arizona State. By many accounts, his bat is ahead of his defense, which is not a knock on his above-average fielding skills. A stay at shortstop may not happen but a super utility future is not out of the question.
33. Texas Rangers - Compensation for Philadelphia signing Cliff Lee
The Pick: Kevin Matthews, LHP, Richmond Hill (Ga.) High
The Buzz: The Georgia pitcher is likley not a starting pitcher as he works through the minors. His signability is in question as well with his commitment being very solid to Virginia. He was 4-2 as a senior and despite being under 6-foot can dunk a basketball, showing his athleticism.
SUPPLEMENTAL FIRST ROUND PICKS
34. Washington Nationals - Compensation for White Sox signing Adam Dunn
The Pick: Brian Goodwin, OF, Miami Dade Junior College
The Buzz: Goodwin is a speedster and a solid gap hitter. He was a five-star player in his high school class and has plenty of tools. Figuring to be a first round player, Goodwin is a steal for the Nationals in the compensation round. He could develop into a Mike Cameron-type player.
35. Toronto Blue Jays - Compensation for Angels signing Scott Downs
The Pick: Jacob Anderson, OF, Chino (Calif.) High
The Buzz: Anderson has a lot of power and showed it in the All-American Game in Wrigley Field, winning the Home Run Derby. He is a Pepperdine commitment and could still find his way to college.
36. Boston Red Sox - Compensation for Detroit signing Victor Martinez
The Pick: Henry Owens, LHP, Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison
The Buzz: Owens threw a no-hitter and led the Chargers into the CIF playoffs in an 11-0 undefeated season. He had mid-first round talent and the Red Sox will be able to make sure he is signed. He has a projectable body and very good stuff.
37. Texas Rangers - Compensation for Philadelphia signing Cliff Lee
The Pick: Zach Cone, OF, Georgia
The Buzz: Cone had a down year heading into the draft but the Rangers like his range in the outfield. He has a good body and looks the part of a major league player.
38. Tampa Bay Rays - Compensation for Yankees signing Rafael Soriano
The Pick: Brandon Martin, SS, Corona (Calif.) Santiago
The Buzz: Martin is a toolsy shortstop that had a streaky season. His summer showcase skills likely propelled his value into the sandwich picks. He was not expected to be picked at this point, but does anyone question the Rays anymore?
39. Philadelphia Phillies - Compensation for Washington signing Jayson Werth
The Pick: Larry Greene, OF, Nashville (Ga.) Berrien County
The Buzz: Green dealt with a lot of off-field adversity with the passing of his mother this year. His power is off the charts and he could be one of the best high school bats in the draft.
40. Boston Red Sox - Compensation for Texas signing Adrian Beltre
The Pick: Jackie Bradley, OF, South Carolina
The Buzz: Even with the wrist injury, Bradley is a solid value pick in this spot. He does not have one measurable attribute to rank above the other but his collection of tools and instincts make him a very good pick. His defensive ability in center field also makes him attractive.
41. Tampa Bay Rays - Compensation for Boston signing Carl Crawford
The Pick: Tyler Goeddel, 3B, Mountain View (Calif.) St. Francis
The Buzz: Goeddel is likely to slide off of third base and into a corner outfield position. He has a very projectable body with above-average power. He is very athletic and showed a ton of ability in a very competitive area of NorCal baseball.
42. Tampa Bay Rays - Compensation for Oakland signing Grant Balfour
The Pick: Jeff Ames, RHP, Lower Columbia College
The Buzz: Ames is a power pitcher that has a 15 strikeout game in the playoffs for his junior college team. He's also a bit of a reach for the Rays again with a lot of players still on the board. He can sit in the mid-90s with his fastball and has a heavy pitch that can break bats.
43. Arizona Diamondbacks - Compensation for Washington signing Adam LaRoche
The Pick: Andrew Chafin, LHP, Kent State
The Buzz: Chafin did not pitch in all of 2010 after Tommy John surgery. He can pitch with an above-average fastball and has a good breaking ball. He battled back as the Friday night starter and helped get his team into a regional.
44. New York Mets - Compensation for Yankees signing Pedro Feliciano
The Pick: Mike Fulmer, RHP, Deer Creek (Okla.) High
The Buzz: Fulmer can pitch into the high 90s and is committed to Arkansas. He is the third pitcher to come out of the state of Oklahoma this season, getting lost in the shuffle of how good the state was at producing talent.
45. Colorado Rockies - Compensation for Toronto signing Octavio Dotel
The Pick: Trevor Story, SS, Irving (Texas) High
The Buzz: Story is one of the best fielding shortstops in the high school ranks and is likely to stay on that position as he progresses. He is commited to LSU and could end up heading to college.
46. Toronto Blue Jays - Compensation for Florida signing John Buck
The Pick: Joe Musgrove, RHP, Grossmont (Calif.) High
The Buzz: Musgrove is a 6-foot-5 pitcher with a heavy sinker and has been compared to Aaron Harang. He is commited to San Diego State and could learn the game from Tony Gwynn. His tenacity on the mound comes from his background on the football field.
47. Chicago White Sox - Compensation for Arizona signing J.J. Putz
The Pick: Keenyn Walker, OF, Central Arizona Community College
The Buzz: Walker was drafted out of high school, his first year in college and now. His skills are still very raw, but the switch hitter can be a top of the order hitter if he is able to cut down on strikeouts. If he doesn't sign this time, he will be headed to Utah.
48. San Diego Padres - Compensation for Dodgers signing Jon Garland
The Pick: Michael Kelly, RHP, West Boca (Fla.) High
The Buzz: Kelly had a decent spring, leading West Boca to a state title game. He is commited to Florida, but will likely sign. He is 6-foot-4 with a lot of action on his pitches and could develop into a middle of the rotation pitcher.
49. San Francisco Giants - Compensation for Dodgers signing Juan Uribe
The Pick: Kyle Crick, RHP, Sherman (Texas) High
The Buzz: Crick is a prototypical right-handed power pitcher from Texas. His motion is fluid and his strength - at 6-foot-4 - is still improving. He is a thrower right now, but with coaching should be able to learn to become a pitcher.
50. Minnesota Twins - Compensation for San Diego signing Orlando Hudson
The Pick: Travis Harrison, 3b, Tustin (Calif.) High
The Buzz: Harrison was projected to be a first-round pick early in the process but defensive limitations deflated some of that. His power game is there and a future as a designated hitter is likely.
51. New York Yankees - Compensation for Florida signing Javier Vazquez
The Pick: Dante Bichette, 3B, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Orangewood Christian
The Buzz: Bichette is nearly a spitting image of his father, hitting with a lot of power and an open stance. He will likely be quickly moved out of the infield and to a corner outfield spot. The Yankees were in love with Bichette through the process and this pick was no surprise.
52. Tampa Bay Rays - Compensation for San Diego signing Brad Hawpe
The Pick: Blake Snell, LHP, Shorewood (Wash.) High
The Buzz: Snell is an off the board pick for the Rays as he was graded out as a third- to fourth-round pick. This is the third pick in a row that the Rays have gone away from what many evaluators thought would happen.
53. Toronto Blue Jays - Compensation for Baltimore signing Sevin Gregg
The Pick: Dwight Smith, OF, Peachtree City (Ga.) McIntosh
The Buzz: The bloodlines are there as his father was a runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting when he came through. He will likely slide to the corner outfield as his speed is not quite projectable. If his power can develop, he could have a major league career.
54. San Diego Padres - Compensation for Texas signing Yorvit Torrealba
The Pick: Brett Austin, C, Charlotte (N.C.) Providence
The Buzz: Austin's draft stock soared as the season went on. The switch-hitting catcher will likely have to move out from the behind the plate as he grows. His commitment to N.C. State seems solid and signability may be an issue.
55. Minnesota Twins - Compensation for White Sox signing Jesse Crain
The Pick: Hudson Boyd, RHP, Fort Myers (Fla.) Bishop Verot
The Buzz: Boyd went 12-0 as a senior and lead Bishop Verot to a state title. The Twins spring training facility is in Fort Myers and so scouting the 6-foot-2 pitcher was pretty easy. He is likely going to become a reliever, with his build already checking in a 235 pounds.
56. Tampa Bay Rays - Compensation for Detroit signing Jacquin Benoit
The Pick: Kes Carter, OF, Western Kentucky
The Buzz: Carter is a very athletic player that has a smooth swing through the zone. His eye put him on the bases at a .430 clip this season and he could develop into a solid player. His upside is good and he is a solid pick this late in the sandwich picks.
57. Toronto Blue Jays - Compensation for Seattle signing Miguel Olivo
The Pick: Kevin Comer, RHP, Senaca (N.J.) High
The Buzz: The South Jersey pitcher was rated as the No. 1 prospect in the state. He is commited to Vanderbilt and could benefit from spending time in college. This is the second Vandy commit for Toronto and its fifth high school player taken.
58. San Diego Padres - Compensation for Pittsburgh signing Kevin Correia
The Pick: Jace Peterson, SS, McNeese State
The Buzz: Peterson is a stellar athlete as he starts at cornerback for the McNeese football team. The left-handed hitting shortstop needs to develop his plate discpline, but that will develop as he starts to focus solely on baseball.
59. Tampa Bay Rays - Compensation for Florida signing Randy Choate
The Pick: Grayson Garver, LHP, Vanderbilt
The Buzz: Garver is the second Commodore pitcher to be taken in the first round. He was 13-1 this season and was the SEC Pitcher of the Year. He is a pitch-to-contact type pitcher and could progress quickly as a situational lefty or a No. 5 starter in the majors.
60. Tampa Bay Rays - Compensation for Sand Diego signing Chad Qualls
The Pick: James Harris, OF, Oakland (Calif.) Oakland Technical
The Buzz: Harris comes out of the same high school as Ricky Henderson and Harris says he emulates his game to that of Henderson. He is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound center fielder with solid bat speed and good contact rates. He is uncommitted to college and will likely be easy to sign.

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