Photo: UCLA

Classic alum Cole picked No. 1

All American Game : : Story
Jeff Dahn        
Published: Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Pittsburgh Pirates made UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole the No. 1 overall selection in the first round of Monday night’s 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft, a pick that stuck another feather in the cap of the All-American Classic, now known as the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings.

A record 18 former All-American Classic participants were first round or compensation selections Monday night, which set a record. Thirteen of the 18 played in last year’s game. The first round selections (with year he played in the Classic in parentheses if it wasn’t 2010) were:

No. 1 Gerrit Cole (2007), Pirates; No. 4 Dylan Bundy, Orioles; No. 7 Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks; No. 8 Francisco Lindor, Indians; No. 9 Javier Baez, Cubs; No. 12 Taylor Jungmann (2007), Brewers.

No. 14 Jose Fernandez, Marlins; No. 18 Sonny Gray (2007), A’s; No. 21 Tyler Beede, Blue Jays; No. 23 Alex Meyer (2007), Nationals; No. 25 Joe Ross, Padres; No. 26 Blake Swihart, Red Sox.

No. 27 Robert Stephenson, Reds; No. 34 Brian Goodwin (2008), Nationals; No. 36 Henry Owens, Red Sox; No. 39 Larry Greene, Phillies; No. 48 Michael Kelly, Padres; No. 50 Travis Harrison, Twins.

Back in the summer of 2007, Cole – a hard-throwing California prep preparing to enter his senior year in the fall – burst into the national consciousness with dominating pitching performances at the Perfect Game National Showcase, PG Sunshine West Showcase and the PG WWBA World Championship.

But the event that really thrust Cole into the public eye was the All-American Classic, played that year at the University of San Diego in front of thousands of fans, hundreds of scouts and college coaches and a national television audience. He pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts while flashing a 96 mph fastball.

It kind of opened my eyes to a whole level of baseball that I didn’t know about,” Cole told MaxPrep.com’s Dave Krider in an interview before the 2008 MLB Draft, referring to all of the PG events he attended along with the All-American Classic.

I got to meet an elite class of baseball players. It did a lot (for my confidence) and teaches you to handle a lot of situations – like big crowds, a lot of scouts, a lot of people, people trying to talk to you before and after games … and playing on TV. It was fun.”

Cole was drafted by the New York Yankees in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft with the No. 28 pick overall – he was one of 10 2007 Classic players drafted in the first round that year – but snubbed the Yankees and headed to UCLA. His three year college career was impressive enough to move up 27 spots in this year’s draft.

Cole told the MLB Network Monday night his three years at UCLA were invaluable.

You really can’t put a price on it, the stuff that you pick up just by playing at an elevated level of baseball,” he said. “The competitiveness and playing in the Pac-10 and all the stuff that Coach (John) Savage has taught me, you can’t put a price on it.”

Cole became the fifth All-American Classic alum to be taken with No. 1 overall selection in the draft, joining shortstop Matthew Bush (2004, Padres), shortstop Justin Upton (2005, Diamondbacks), shortstop Tim Beckham (2008, Rays) and Bryce Harper (2010, Nationals).

He is the first All-American Classic alum to be taken No. 1 overall after attending college as opposed to straight out of high school. He is also the first player who attended the game to be drafted in the first round twice.

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