He was a Yankees fan growing up, and then turned down a $4 million dollar signing bonus the Yankees offered him coming out of high school.

He walked just 24 this year in 114 innings pitched, yet MLB Network gave him a grade of 3 out of 10 in the control category of their draft analysis.

He just became the #1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, and he lost more games than he won in the Pac-10 Conference this season.

His agent is Scott Boras.

Meet Gerrit Cole of UCLA, the 100mph Pirates' man.

Speed kills. Kills all potential concerns.

I asked Cole's college coach last week whether throwing 100mph is overrated, and John Savage said "It's not. His fastball is as big as I've seen in college, it affects the timing of the hitters. He sits at 95-98 mph, and touches 100 and 101 mph a few times a game. That's different from touching 96. He throws bullpens at 94, 95. You just don't see that. And he can hold the velocity. He maintains his stuff throughout the game."

That sells it for me.

You can talk all you want about the risk of taking a pitcher compared to the stability of taking the top position player on the board, but I'll take the guy who can fill the seats every 5th day at PNC Park and win big games like flame-throwers can do. 376 strikeouts in 322.1 innings pitched in the past three years speaks for itself.

Throw in the durability fact that Cole hasn't missed a start in three years at UCLA, his "bulldog" makeup, his 6'4 / 220 lb. athletic frame, and I'll endorse the Pirates 2011 1st-overall pick as the smart move.

Now, in 2013 when Cole starts pitching in PIttsburgh for good will the fastball alone be enough?

No. The Pirates have two years to get his supplementary stuff together.

As is, Savage describes Cole's changeup right now as a "good, major league caliber. He had it going earlier in the year and he's backed off it some." Savage also says his slider is "good" and sits at 88-89 mph.

Cole has the talent, and GM Neal Huntington made the right pick. The pressure now shifts to owner Bob Nutting to write the check, and then Development Director Kyle Stark to get busy.

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates

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