Report: Pirates expected to take Gerrit Cole with No. 1 pick

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As opposed to the past two years, there isn’t an obvious No. 1 pick in Monday’s First-Year Player Draft. This has led to spirited debate about who the Pirates may select. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole and Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen have been mentioned most frequently in the past few weeks, but it appears that the Pirates have a made a decision.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is hearing that the Pirates will select Gerrit Cole with the first pick in Monday’s draft.

Cole, 20, arguably has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the draft. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Cole can touch 100 mph with his heater and also throws a plus-changeup. He was previously selected by the Yankees with the No. 28 pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, but decided to attend UCLA.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported this morning that other teams are anticipating that the Mariners will take a position player with the No. 2 pick. Anthony Rendon would seem to be the favorite, though high school outfielder Bubba Starling is another possibility.

By the way, if you are looking for some in-depth draft insight, check out this piece by Patrick Daugherty of Rotoworld.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.