Future 50: Gerrit Cole is still No. 1

We're now just six weeks away from this year's Rule 4 draft, and it's shaping up to be a huge pitching bonanza … but much lighter on bats than anyone expected. If you like velocity, present or projected, this is a draft class for you. If you're looking for a position player, especially one in the middle of the diamond, however, you may want to avert your eyes.

The biggest changes to the top 50 this time around are due to injuries. Matt Purke, who may pitch this weekend, is off the list until there's some evidence that he's healthy; the diagnosis of bursitis is often (though not always) a precursor of -- or cover for -- a more serious shoulder injury. Jackie Bradley Jr. is most likely out for the spring after tearing a ligament in his left (non-throwing) wrist while diving for a ball against Mississippi State last weekend. Andrew Susac broke his hamate bone and will probably be missing some of his power (due to reduced hand strength) when he returns. Brandon Nimmo had a rough showing in Arizona earlier this month due to tendinitis in a knee he'd hurt previously. Even two position players I haven't moved down, Anthony Rendon (shoulder) and Bubba Starling (quad), have been slowed by injuries.

This will be the last pref list with just 50 names on it; I'll probably blow this out to 100 for the next update, with more scouting reports, as well. You can click on any highlighted name here to view a scouting report, although I've written shorter capsules on players I still plan to see in May, primarily Sonny Gray, Alex Meyer, Bubba Starling and Danny Hultzen.

Big Board Bar

1 Gerrit Cole

Gardner H.S.

Analysis: Cole is still the top player in the draft but has had some trouble recently with command up in the zone; premium stuff is a lot less premium when it's left up and over the plate. Previous Rankings: 3 | 1

2 Anthony Rendon

Analysis: No one is quite sure what to make of the situation with Rendon's shoulder, but the raw talent is intact and there doesn't seem to be any sentiment that the injury is serious. Previous Rankings: 1 | 2

3 Bubba Starling

Analysis: Starling has missed several weeks with a quad strain, but returned to action this week and is at or near 100 percent again. Previous Rankings: 4 | 3

4 Dylan Bundy


Owasso H.S.

Analysis: Bundy is the high school pitcher who's just like a college pitcher in stuff, feel for pitching and physical maturity. Previous Rankings: 13 | 6

5 Danny Hultzen

Analysis: Hultzen keeps rolling along although his velocity dipped last weekend to its pre-2011 levels. Previous Rankings: 19 | 4