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With Draft on deck, some intriguing questions

With Draft on deck, some intriguing questions

With Draft on deck, some intriguing questions
Time is winding down to when the Pittsburgh Pirates will officially be on the clock with the first overall pick of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Every Draft has its share of intrigue and questions, and this year is no different. With that in mind, here are some of the key questions to ponder as the Draft draws near.

Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday at 6 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Days 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging  your tweets with #mlbdraft.

1. Who's No. 1?
This question has been answered long before Draft day in recent years. This year it took longer, but now we know: the Pirates will take UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole with the top pick, a source told MLB.com on Monday. University of Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen and Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon were considered.

2. What's with Rendon's shoulder?
It is believed that teams do have medical reports on Rendon's balky right shoulder, which has kept him from playing third -- he's largely been the designated hitter -- for Rice all year. How they interpret that information could ultimately determine where he lands.

3. What are the Rays going to do with all of those picks?
Build even more depth. Already featuring a very strong system, Tampa Bay will pick 10 times in the first 60 overall selections. Some have voiced concerns about the Rays' ability to sign all of those high picks, but it's a very nice problem to have for a team that relies heavily on -- and succeeds through -- scouting and player development.

4. Is there really that much pitching?
It does appear so, though pitching can be a risky endeavor. MLB.com's Top 50 Draft prospects list features 25 pitchers, and seven of the top 10 talents on the list will be trying to make a living on the mound (14 of the top 20). To see at least 20 of the top 33 picks be pitchers should not be surprising.

5. How did the new bats in NCAA competition change the evaluation process?
In some ways, it made it easier for scouts in that they were closer to how wood plays. There was certainly an adjustment period after years of translating metal bat performances to wood, and players clearly were impacted, with power numbers down across the college game.

6. Will the possibility of hard slotting in 2012 change how people do business this year?
More of that may be determined as the Aug. 15 signing deadline approaches, but the general belief heading in is that more players will ultimately sign, given the chance that they won't get over-slot bonuses after this year's Draft. At the same time, some players (and advisors) may have been floating larger demands, thinking this might be the last time they could come close to getting that kind of payday.

Draft Central

7. How will the Majors' new general managers handle their first Drafts with their new teams?
Both Sandy Alderson of the Mets and Kevin Towers of the D-backs aren't in their first rodeo here, but with their new teams, they have interesting situations to deal with. The financial situation with the Mets has been well documented, and it remains to be seen if that will impact how the Mets do business in the Draft. They've largely stuck to slot over the years, though they've claimed that if the right player is available at No. 13, they won't hesitate to take him, even if that means spending more money.

Towers and the D-backs will have picked twice before the Mets even have to worry about their selection. It's the first time a team has had two picks so early (No. 3 and No. 7), and all eyes will be on Arizona to see how the club handles that, especially with the second selection being an unprotected one; the pick is compensation for the D-backs not having signed first-rounder Barret Loux a year ago.

8. Could this be the year of the undersized right-hander?
It's typically a stigma of sorts come Draft time, but there are two who will be the exception to the rule. Oklahoma high schooler Dylan Bundy is the best pitcher in the class, according to some, and he'll be the first high school pitcher to be taken. UCLA's Trevor Bauer has drawn Tim Lincecum comparisons due to his unorthodox delivery and conditioning techniques. He's arguably been the best college pitcher in terms of performance this year and will be off the board before the top 10 picks have been made.

9. Does Josh Bell really want to go to Texas, or was that just a ploy?
On talent alone, Bell is one of the better high school position players in the class, a legitimate switch-hitter who should hit for average and power from both sides of the plate. But he sent a letter to the Major League Scouting Bureau to inform teams that he did not want to be drafted because he was planning on attending the University of Texas. Some feel that's sincere, while others feel it was a ploy to push him to a team willing to go way over slot to sign him.

10. What's the Boras effect on this year's Draft?
As usual, agent Scott Boras' impact will be quite significant. Two of the top three college players -- Cole and Rendon -- are advised by Boras Corp. So is Bubba Starling, the five-tool high school outfielder. Other Top 50 players being advised by Boras are Alex Meyer, the aforementioned Bell, Dillon Howard, Brian Goodwin, Austin Hedges and Jackie Bradley Jr.

11. What's your biggest question heading into the Draft?
What's on your mind as the Draft approaches, whether it's about a specific player or what your team is going to do? Leave your top question in the comments section below and we'll do our best to answer them.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }
{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }