Pitcher Gerrit Cole, previously a first-round pick of the New York Yankees in 2008, was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the No. 1 overall selection this year in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft.
Cole, 20, opted not to sign with the Yankees after being drafted three years ago, instead going to the University of California, Los Angeles. The right-hander had a 21-20 record with a 3.38 earned run average in 50 games for UCLA, with 376 strikeouts in 322 1/3 innings.
“I always wanted to play in the major leagues and I think every kid grows up dreaming about that,” Cole said in a telephone interview with MLB Network last night. “The first time around, it really wasn’t my time. Now, we have to take care of some business, but hopefully things will work out.”
The 6-foot-4 Cole was the fourth pitcher drafted No. 1 in the past six years, following Stephen Strasburg by Washington in 2009, David Price by Tampa Bay in 2007 and Luke Hochevar by Kansas City in 2006. The Pirates last had the top overall pick in 2002, when they drafted pitcher Bryan Bullington, who appeared in 26 major league games, including six for Pittsburgh.
Greg Smith, the Pirates’ director of scouting, said Cole has the “size, strength, overall package of stuff and mentality to develop into a top-of-the-rotation” starter.
Pitchers were taken with the top four picks last night, including Cole’s UCLA teammate Trevor Bauer, who went third to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Of the 33 players taken in the first round, 19 were pitchers.
Mets’ First Pick
Bubba Starling, a high school outfielder from Kansas, was the first non-pitcher drafted, taken fifth overall by the Kansas City Royals. Starling may attend the University of Nebraska to play baseball as well as quarterback for the football team. The New York Mets used the 13th pick on Brandon Nimmo, a high school outfielder from Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The 50-round draft began last night with the first round and compensatory picks -- 60 selections in all. The remaining 49 rounds will be conducted today and tomorrow.
The Yankees’ first pick -- 51st overall -- was high school infielder Dante Bichette Jr., whose father hit 274 home runs in 14 major league seasons with five teams.