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MLB Draft 2011 Prospects: For Yankees, Gerrit Cole Is One Who Got Away

The New York Yankees are well stocked with young pitching talent. Ivan Nova, 24, is already part of their starting rotation. Hector Noesi, 24, debuted with four shutout innings recently. Waiting for their opportunities are 20-year-old left-hander Manny Banuelos, 23-year-old Dellin Betances and 26-year-old Andrew Brackman -- all among Baseball America's top 100 prospects.

Imagine if the Yankees could add Gerrit Cole to that list. Cole is the No. 1 prospect in the nation, according to ESPN's Keith Law, and quite possibly the No. 1 pick in next month's MLB Draft. SB Nation's Minor League Ball wonders if Cole is the next Stephen Strasburg.

Cole, as far as the Yankees are concerned, is the one who got away.

The Yankees drafted Cole in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft, 28th overall, despite the risk that Cole would pass on the pros and go to college. It was a gamble the Yankees lost. Yankees Senior Vice President Mark Newman, who is the top dog of the organization's minor league system, spoke about the selection of Cole during a recent interview with Minor League Ball.

"We knew that was a risk because he had the UCLA commitment, his family is wealthy, and we knew that he had aggressive bonus demands," Newman said. "Because of his upside, we took the chance that we could make it work, but he went to college instead. That was one risk that didn't pan out. But to be extraordinary involves risk, and our goal is to be extraordinary."

To be honest, you can't blame the Yankees for trying on that one.

From Baseball Prospectus, via Minor League Ball, comes this summary of what Cole brings to the table:

Cole is the best pitcher in the collegiate ranks, and capable of pitching in a major-league rotation as of yesterday. He wears his well-above-average arsenal well, with the delivery and mechanics to log heavy innings while maintaining his stuff; Cole can miss bats with all four of his pitches. The day Cole enters the professional ranks is the day he becomes the best pitching prospect in baseball, and given the overall maturity of his arsenal, his stay in the minors should be very brief. OFP: 68; future ace at the major league level.

Considering that the back end of the Yankee rotation includes Nova and veteran retreads Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon (with Phil Hughes on the disabled list) you have to wonder if Cole, 20, would be in the Yankee rotation right now had he signed with them out of high school.