Did Pirates get 3 1st-round talents in 2011?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Fun exercise here -- Baseball Prospectus reimagined the 2011 draft with who each team might pick if it could do the draft over. 2011, of course, was the draft in which the Pirates picked Gerrit Cole first overall, but this draft has the Pirates taking Jose Fernandez at No. 1 and Cole falling to No. 4, also behind Javier Baez and Anthony Rendon.

That's fine, I think -- given Fernandez's injury, you can still make a case for Cole ahead of any of them. It turns out that there were a ton of high-upside talents in the first round (also including Francisco Lindor, George Springer and possibly Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley), and it's good the Pirates got one of them, and he's one of the ones who stayed healthy. The Mariners at No. 2 (Danny Hultzen) didn't get so lucky. (And by the way, what's happened with Hultzen demonstrates just how silly it is to think of any pitcher as a "safe" pick.)

Anyway, some interesting stuff happens later in the article, where two other Pirates draft picks turn up in the first round. Tyler Glasnow comes up at No. 19, and Josh Bell is at No. 20. Everyone knew Bell was a first-round talent at the time; that was purely a matter of being willing to spend the money to sign him, and Bob Nutting deserves the credit for that. (The Bucs also deserve credit for correctly gambling that they'd be able to sign Bell if they took him in the second round.) Glasnow, though, was a pure scouting win. As much as we criticize the Pirates for their questionable talent assessment at some points in the draft, they nailed this one, getting a "projectable" pitcher who actually did what projectable pitchers are supposed to do.

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