2011 MLB Draft Preview
Scheduled for June 6th, the 2011 MLB draft is swiftly approaching and it promises to be a great one. In what's being touted as the best draft class in a decade, collectors will surely want to jump on previous and upcoming sets that feature players that are going to be picked. Though there isn't a clear number one pick, as there was in 2009 with Stephen Strasburg and 2010 with Bryce Harper, the depth of talent available will make this year's draft one to remember. The closest comparison to the depth of talent is the class of 2005 that yielded All-Stars like Justin Upton, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki and Clay Bucholz.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the first overall pick in 2011 and rumors are swirling about who the organization will select. The front-runners for the top pick are UCLA pitcher Gerritt Cole, who can consistently show 100 on the radar gun, Rice's Anthony Rendon, and Virginia's left-handed ace Danny Hultzen.
Fans and collectors of the Tampa Bay Rays will have a field day this year with their team having the 24th, 32nd, 38th, 41st, 42nd, 52nd, 56th, and 59th pick. Rumors are teams are going to be much more willing to spend extra money signing their picks this year since there might be changes to the collective bargaining agreement that could affect the 2012 draft.
This year's class is deep in college pitchers poised to go in the first round like Cole, Hultzen, Trevor Bauer (UCLA), Taylor Jungmann (Texas), Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt), Tyler Anderson (Oregon), and Matt Purke (TCU). Purke was previously picked by the Texas Rangers and had a contract in place until it was shut down by MLB due to the changing of team ownership at the time.
Since the NCAA adopted a new college bat, which plays more like a wood bat, the drop in power numbers this season allowed scouts to more easily find the true big-time college hitters this season. Anthony Rendon (Rice), who has been compared to Evan Longoria, has battled injuries this season and has been limited to the DH role. C.J. Cron (Utah), George Springer (UCONN) and Mikie Mahtook (LSU) project to quickly rise through the minors with their offensive contributions.
Potential first round draft picks are coming from the high school level, as well. The top prep name this year is right handed pitcher Dylan Bundy from Oklahoma. The top position player is shortstop Francisco Lindor from Florida. High school backstop Blake Swihart might be one of the few catchers taken in the first round this year. Questions surround Swihart's willingness to sign, though, as he has already committed to the University of Texas. The top overall high school athlete in the draft is Bubba Starling, who is also a top football recruit that has committed to Nebraska which leads to signing concerns.
So it's time to start digging out your Team USA cards and get ready to see the demand for these top draft picks climb. One question that still remains for collectors is whether or not the number one draft pick will be left out of 2011 Bowman Draft Picks set and saved for 2012 Bowman as was previously done with Strasburg and Harper.