I've mentioned this in a couple places today, but it's worth mentioning here as well. John Sickels has a list of the top 100 draft prospects. No. 1 in Anthony Rendon. No. 2 is UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer, who has been climbing draft boards recently. He's certainly a good prospect, but I think the fact that it's no longer certain whether Gerrit Cole is a better prospect than he is makes it all the more clear that if the Pirates can get any kind of assurance that Anthony Rendon's shoulder won't be a lasting problem, they should steer clear of pitchers altogether.
Here's what I wrote about Bauer today at SB Nation Pittsburgh (and by the way, I've been writing about the draft about once a day for almost a month over there):
But if I'm the Pirates, I would just chuck the whole results (Bauer) versus aesthetics (Cole) debate and avoid them both. Sure, either of them could become a big star and make you look silly. But pitchers selected in the early first round have a very poor track record, historically ... What you think about [Bauer's] prospect status is a litmus test about how you feel about various hot-button issues for pitching prospects – size (Bauer is relatively small), college stats as a way of evaluating draft prospects (Bauer’s are great this year, much better than fellow highly-touted Bruin Gerrit Cole), workloads (Bauer’s is ridiculous), and delivery (Bauer’s is unconventional).
Bauer has been compared to Tim Lincecum a lot, which is a flattering way of saying that he has posted great results with a high-effort delivery. Also, Bauer has an an insane college workload.
Bauer is a very bright and unusual person who's known for some very creative workout habits, which might reduce his injury risk somewhat. And he's posted brilliant numbers so far this year. If the Pirates had, say, the No. 8 pick in the draft and they picked Bauer, I'd be ecstatic, and I'd root hard for him. But with the No. 1 overall pick, you want more certainty than he can offer.
Now, there's no indication that the Pirates have any interest in taking Bauer with the No. 1 overall pick. But my point is this: if Trevor Bauer even might be the top overall pitcher in this draft - if Gerrit Cole isn't clearly a better prospect than a somewhat undersized righty who pitches in the low 90s, has a high-effort delivery and routinely throws 125 or more pitches a game - then the Pirates just shouldn't pick a pitcher. (And by the way, UCLA hasn't exactly been careful about Cole's workload, either.) Pitchers are extremely risky to begin with, and now the guy everyone's talking about has so many obvious risk factors that the team that drafts him is likely to shut him down for the year as soon as he signs. Maybe he really will become the next Lincecum. I hope he does. But if he's the top pitching prospect in the draft, then I'm pretty sure I don't want any of the others at No. 1 overall.
Maybe Rendon's shoulder is about sink into his chest cavity and settle somewhere near his spleen, in which case the Pirates have to consider taking a pitcher, or Bubba Starling, or something. But if not, there seems to be a very clear choice here.
UPDATE: Bauer on his delivery:
"I, personally, think he has the best mechanics in the big leagues, the most efficient," Bauer said. "There are a lot of guys out there who have really good mechanics. Cliff Lee is one of them. I think the more you torque and use your body, the less stress you put on your arm. I actually think that is preferable to the guys who use mostly arm."
Bauer knows about this stuff a lot better than I do, but I suspect there are a lot of people who wouldn't agree with this. In either case, I'm not a scout, so if you want to mentally remove the references to Bauer's high-effort delivery in the paragraphs above and focus merely on his workload, that's fine with me. The workload alone still presents a very substantial risk.