SECAUCUS, N.J. – The Pittsburgh Pirates wanted Gerrit Cole’s blazing fastball blowing away hitters for them.
In a baseball draft dominated early by outstanding pitching prospects, the Pirates were convinced Cole was the best of the bunch and took the UCLA right-hander with the No. 1 pick Monday night.
“We felt he’d have the biggest potential impact for us,” general manager Neal Huntington said.
Cole, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior, posted mediocre numbers this season for the Bruins (6-8, 3.31 ERA), but has what many consider to be the best pure stuff in the draft.
Cole’s teammate on the UCLA staff, right-hander Trevor Bauer, wasn’t far behind, going third overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks. It marked the first time a pair of teammates went in the top three picks since Arizona State’s Bob Horner and Hubie Brooks in 1978.
With the second choice, the Seattle Mariners tabbed Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen, the ACC pitcher of the year the last two seasons.
Hultzen, a junior, is 11-3 with a 1.57 ERA and 148 strikeouts while leading the top-ranked Cavaliers to the NCAA super regionals.
Arizona, which had two of the first seven picks, grabbed Bauer at No. 3. The Pac-10 pitcher of the year outshined Cole statistically, going 13-2 with a 1.25 ERA and a Division I-leading and Pac-10-record 203 strikeouts. He ended the season having thrown nine straight complete games.
With the seventh pick, Arizona took another pitcher in right-hander Archie Bradley from Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma.
At No. 4, Baltimore selected Bradley’s good buddy, Dylan Bundy, another high school pitcher from Oklahoma.
It was the first time since the amateur draft began in 1965 that the first four selections were pitchers.