The 2011 MLB Draft will be held June 6 - 8 and by all accounts features a ton of good talent. The Arizona Diamondbacks should benefit from that as holders of the third and seventh overall picks. The third pick they earned via a really bad 2010 season and the seventh pick is compensation for not being able to sign Barret Loux last year.
The first 2011 MLB Mock Draft from baseball prospect expert John Sickels has the D-backs taking two pitchers, Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia and Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut.
The number one overall pick in both Sickel's mock draft as well as the mock drom ESPN's Keith Law is Gerrit Cole of UCLA. Cole is considered to have two and possibly three plus pitches with his high 90's fast ball and devastating change up leading the way.
Arizona Republic beat writer Nick Piecoro recently went to see Cole pitch and came away as impressed as everyone else in the kid's stuff but also wondering if he mediocre record with the Bruins and some issues with command might allow him to fall to the D-backs at the three spot.
"He's got everything you're looking for as far as size, stuff - he'll show you on occasion three pluses (pitches) and he's got the big velocity," said a scouting director with an AL club. "But when you start comparing him to those very best guys who came out of the draft, those guys didn't get knocked around. Those guys dominated."
The D-backs are busy scouting the prospects leading up to the draft and some believe that they stayed light on 2011 payroll to make sure they could afford both high draft picks. It's rare for even the top prospects to have an immediate impact at the major league level, but many of the experts feel Gerrit Cole, who would be 21 by the start of the 2012 season, could pitch right away.
Here is the top 10 picks from SB Nation's Minor League Ball 2010 MLB Mock Draft:
1) Pirates: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice: Rendon or Cole? Rendon or Cole? Both have some question-marks sneaking into their profiles, but for today we'll assume that the medical reviews of Rendon's shoulder turn out OK.
2) Mariners: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA: I'll stick with the idea that the Mariners pick whoever the Pirates don't. I still see Cole as a future number one starter.
3) Diamondbacks: Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia. Arizona drafted Hultzen in the 10th round in 2008 and couldn't sign him. This time they do.
5) Royals: Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas HS: Simply makes too much sense. He's immensely toolsy, and the Royals don't let local guys get past them now.
6) Nationals: Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA: I love Bauer and considered him as high as three.
7) Diamondbacks (failure to sign Barret Loux): Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut. This pick isn't protected, and Hultzen won't be cheap to sign at #3, which means signability and cost has to be factored into this as much as talent. Big front office turnover last year is an added factor: what direction will the new decision-making team go? I'll go with UConn right-hander Matt Barnes here with a pre-draft deal worked out, the first pick people look at as a "surprise" despite his talent level.
9) Cubs: Francisco Lindor, SS, Florida HS: The Cubs do unusual things, and they already have Starlin Castro. But you can't have too many middle infielders with strong bats and slick gloves, and Lindor is too good to pass up.
10) Padres (failure to sign Karsten Whitson): George Springer, OF, Connecticut. Unprotected pick, so a college player makes sense. You could easily go with one of the college pitchers here such as Stilson or Jungmann, but in this universe the Padres decide to add another high-upside athletic outfielder to the system alongside Reymond Fuentes and Donavan Tate. Springer's tools are excellent.