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.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.