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2011 MLB Draft Preview-College Pitchers

by Steve Garrity on Jun. 23, 2010
The 2010 draft is a little more than three weeks old, and several players still remain unsigned. However for scouts the focus has already shifted to the 2011 draft class. Leading up to this year's event we knew next year would be the stronger class, with some even suggesting it could rival that of the 2005 draft class which featured three future All-Stars in the first five picks in Justin Upton (first overall), Ryan Zimmerman (fourth), and Ryan Braun (fifth) along with Ricky Romero and Troy Tulowitzki going sixth and seventh respectively. As you can guess that year, teams went after bats early as it was one of the stronger aspects of the 2005 draft. 2011 shares the similarity in that there are several players with all-star potential, but unlike 2005 the resounding strength next year is pitching, especially college pitching. Two former first round picks will be leading the charge in front, both with a chance to land in the top three. These two are UCLA’s Gerrit Cole and TCU’s Matt Purke, both of whom did not sign when they were drafted, and have come out top for it. Cole was selected 28th by the Yankees in 2008, and Purke went 14th overall the next year in 2009 to the Texas Rangers. Gerrit Cole only fell that far due to sign-ability concerns, which proved to be true, and Matthew Purke would not budge on his four million dollar price tag because he knew he would be back here in two years.

Adding to the depth of pitching in this year’s class is the fact that it features something that has been missing for the last couple drafts, which is left handed pitching at both levels. Teams seek out lefties like gold; once again Purke is leading the way, along with prep lefties Daniel Norris and Andrew Suarez.

2011 no doubt is an extremely deep class, and a simple top ten list would cause us to leave out several top names, especially the top of the line bats. So for the next few weeks Draftsite.com will be featuring an in depth 2011 Major League Baseball draft preview with four top ten lists outlining the top college pitchers, high school pitchers, college bats, and the top high school hitters. With the strength of this class being stated over and over as college pitchers, many of whom could end up front of the line starters, it is the perfect place to start.

TOP 10 COLLEGE PITCHERS IN 2011



1) Gerrit Cole RHP, UCLA
Cole has the chance to be the top pitcher taken off the board. At 6’4 and 220 lbs he has the build clubs love and tops it off with a fastball that gets up into the upper 90’s with movement. It is not hard to see why teams are enamored with him. Along with what many call the best fastball in the class, he has one of the nastiest sliders in the class with late movement and bite. Cole also shows a change-up although it is inconsistent right now. With this two pitch mix, along with the change which many think will come around, Gerrit Cole has a chance for three above average pitches. Some of the knocks surrounding him are his inconsistencies from start to start, and mechanically he also lands on a somewhat stiff front leg which causes him to bullwhip his arm some. All these tweaks can be worked out and it shouldn’t be too long before he hears his name called in 2011.

2) Matt Purke LHP, TCU
The top lefthander in the 2011 class, Purke has had a dominant first season for the Horned Frogs. Going 15-0 and leading TCU to their first ever College World Series, Purke has certainly made himself the ace of the staff. At 6’4 and 180 lbs. he is long, lean, and athletic, and he has the size and stuff that makes clubs drool. His pitching repertoire consists of a 94 mph fastball with a lot of sink along with a curve and slider, all of which have the chance to be above average pitches. Pitching from a low ¾ left arm slot Purke has tremendous command and has everything he needs to challenge Cole as the top arm taken in the draft. The one knock on Purke is that his change-up is behind the rest of his pitches. However he hasn’t needed it much during the season.

3) Sonny Gray RHP, Vanderbilt
If Gray were a couple inches taller he would be in the conversation for the top pitcher available, but at 5’11 and 195 lbs, many teams are just too afraid to take a small right hander that early. Inevitability he receives the Roy Oswalt comparisons for his size and his extremely strong right arm, with a fastball that has touched 95 mph and a plus slider, with developing feel for a change up. Sonny’s arm action is smooth and extremely quick, and he finishes outside his body well. He could afford to balance himself a little more over the rubber and get himself in a better position to field, as he tends to fall somewhat over to the first base side. A two way player and starting quarterback in high school, Gray will no doubt bring athleticism to the position.

4) Jack Armstrong RHP, Vanderbilt
Coming from Major League blood lines, where his father Jack pitched in the majors, Armstrong has a pretty solid understanding of what to do on the mound. Blessed with great size at 6’6 and 225 lbs. he has an extremely projectable frame. His delivery and arm action are exceptionally smooth and solid with little effort involved, and the ball explodes out of his hand, hitting 96 mph on his fastball with movement. He also offers two other potential plus pitches in a curve and a change-up which he calls his best pitch. Combined all three offerings are swing and miss pitches. Jack Armstrong has everything you look for in a starting pitcher, and could be one of the first pitchers from this class to make it to the majors if he keeps it up.

5) Taylor Jungmann RHP, Texas
There is plenty to like about Jungmann, however there are also plenty of question marks. Taylor has a frame that offers some projection as a tall, lean, and lanky righter at 6’6 and 195 lbs. with a fastball that can touch 96 mph with easy action. He compliments that fastball with a decent slider that can get slurvy at times but has good movement, as well as a change which gives him a chance for three above average pitches. However Jungmann can at times lose his mechanics with his arm going in different routes and causes him to suffer bouts of wildness. In his delivery he also has some pretty big head movement that is cause for concern, where it shakes from side to side, which could also play into his wildness. If Taylor Jungmann can work out these aspects of his game he has plenty of tools to succeed.

6) Alex Meyer RHP, Kentucky
Alex Meyer has the size to catch anyone’s attention. At 6’9 and 220 lbs. he’s not going to surprise anyone, but his stuff will. With a fastball that can get up into the mid 90’s, he tremendous arm strength. However, his best pitch might be his put away curveball, which has very good bite and movement on it and will be a putout pitch. Meyer is also working on a change-up and a two-seam fastball, but they currently lag behind his first two offerings. Like any other prospect he has plenty to work on and could get out of whack with his mechanics. He tends to throw across his body and his arm action is long in back, causing him to suffer from inconsistencies and wildness. Meyer also has a tendency of showing the ball too early due to that arm action, which affords him little deception to hitters. Even with these problems to fix, his size and stuff will get his name called very early.

7) Ryan Carpenter LHP, Gonzaga-
Carpenter is a player who has all the tools he needs to succeed but just hasn’t completely put together. After a poor season this year with the Bulldogs, this has the making of a very important summer, where he can hopefully reestablish himself as one of the top arms. He has tremendous size for a lefty at 6’6 and 225 lbs, to go along with an extremely strong arm. He has a three pitch mix with a fastball, curve, and change; all three have the chance to be plus pitches. However this season he was inconsistent with each one and struggled with his command. If he can regain him form, scouts will be all over him.

8) Danny Hultzen LHP, Virginia
Danny Hultzen is one of the more athletic pitchers in this year’s class. He is a two way player for the Cavaliers but his future is 100% on the mound. Hultzen has pretty good size at 6’3 and 200 lbs, and his delivery is very smooth and balanced, being able to repeat it and land well. It also has good deception, hiding his arm well from batters, and not showing it until the last possible second. He isn’t a flamethrower- his fastball usually sits in the upper 80’s and will touch the low 90’s, but he is able to command it. Along with his fastball, he has a very solid curve, which is above average, and will mix in a change and split-finger fastball. Danny Hultzen is a very legitimate pitcher, and extremely solid all around. If he continues to improve, he will be one of the top pitchers taken.

9) Trevor Bauer RHP, UCLA
You hear one name associated with Bauer constantly; Tim Lincecum. Like Lincecum, he gets his whole body into his delivery. Bauer doesn’t turn his back as much, but there are definitely visual similarities. The arm action is also very Lincecum-like as he gets near completely vertical before the release, giving him tons of extra torque. Bauer is not the biggest guy by any means, at 6’1 and 175 lbs, but he can throw gas. He features a two-seamer that he can get up to 95 mph. Along with the fastball, he also features a curveball that has hard bite, that he can throw for strikes consistently. There really isn’t a lot not to like about Bauer. He skipped his senior year of high school to attend UCLA a year early, but he has proved to everyone it was the right choice. He set the single-season Bruins strikeout record, and just struck out 11 in the College World Series. Bauer has the stuff, arm speed and repeatable mechanics to be a top of the line guy.

10) Brett Mooneyham LHP, Stanford
Mooneyham is another tall lefty (which this class seems to have a lot of) at 6’5 and 225 lbs. Coming out of high school he was a rising commodity in the draft, but his strong commitment to Stanford scared off some teams. Naturally with his size he has a pretty strong arm and features a fastball in the low 90’s as well as a nice curveball, both of which can be above average at times. The problem for Mooneyham, like other young pitchers, is consistency. His stuff all grades out as first round, but his control and command may end up pushing him further down in the draft. At this point, he doesn’t have a tremendous feel for pitching, and is more of a thrower. However, a left hander with his size and stuff will always be given the benefit of the doubt until he proves he can’t do it. If he can tighten up his control he will be one of the top lefties taken.