UCLA's Gerrit Cole-The Next Stephen Strasburg?

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 28: Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole #12 of the UCLA Bruins pitches against the South Carolina Gamecocks during Game 1 of the men's 2010 NCAA College Baseball World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium on June 28, 2010 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Prior to about a week ago, Rice University's Anthony Rendon was the front-runner to be the #1 pick in the 2011 Rule 4 Draft in June 2011. That was before some well read scouts went out and saw Gerrit Cole pitch last Friday night. 

ESPN's Keith Law penned a piece on Saturday where he named UCLA's pitching prospect Gerrit Cole as the #1 pick in the 2011 draft. Cole threw six no-hit innings only to lose the game, but Law was so impressed with his performance and his arsenal of pitches, he went on to opine this:

Cole's performance, coupled with his size, athleticism and delivery, cemented his status as the

top college arm in this draft -- and it illuminated many of the reasons he compares favorably to

Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals.

Law compared Cole's changeup to Johan Santana's changeup, and said "his changeup is better than Strasburg's breaking ball was at the time he was drafted."

More after the jump:

Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks, in the recent BP podcast with Kevin Goldstein, stated the following-"Strasburg was the best pitching prospect we have ever seen, but I think Cole will be the better major league pitcher." Parks stated he likes Cole's body, his changeup and has a cleaner delivery when compared to Strasburg.

He penned this piece over at BP earlier this week and concluded his article with this:

Summation: Cole is the best pitcher in the collegiate ranks, and capable of pitching in a major-league rotation as of yesterday. He wears his well-above-average arsenal well, with the delivery and mechanics to log heavy innings while maintaining his stuff; Cole can miss bats with all four of his pitches. The day Cole enters the professional ranks is the day he becomes the best pitching prospect in baseball, and given the overall maturity of his arsenal, his stay in the minors should be very brief. OFP: 68; future ace at the major league level.

Parks gave Cole's arsenal of pitches 60s and 65s with one 70, whereas his future grades were mostly 70s and 75s.

When asked on Twitter, Baseball America's Jim Callis has this to say in response to some questions on Cole;

Could see him in bigs by end of 2012. @jaypers413: How many years will Gerrit Cole likely need in the minors? #mlbdraft #UCLA

At this point, I'm torn. Can't go wrong either way. @mikeshaeffer: Would you still take Rendon over Cole if Cole keeps this up? #mlbdraft

It is safe to say Cole will be talked about plenty between now and mid June, but I am not sure how much higher the hype can go when Strasburg comps are being tossed around, not that they are wrong. But, you can also say that you have to love to be in the Pirates position as they get to choose between Cole and Rendon, and I am sure will stew over the decision over the next 3 months.

But should the Pirates draft and sign Cole, they will have 3-4 excellent pitching prospects in their system with Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie and Lus Heredia to go along with Rudy Owens and Bryan Morris. Slowly but surely, it appears the Buccos rebuild is coming together, and they have to be excited about the 2011 draft.

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