Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole throws in a game today at McKechnie field against the Minnesota Twins.
Future Pirates ace Gerrit Cole is as poised an MLB prospect as there are to come by.
Gerrit Cole's mound presence and the poise with which he pitches are two of his most valued traits on a long list of notables for this former first overall pick.
The quick development and accelerated maturity of Gerrit Cole is due in large part to the time he spent pitching at UCLA. Starting his freshman year, Cole became a top of the rotation arm becoming the Friday night starter for the Bruins in his first year. As a freshman he was a shoulder to lean on for Coach John Savage who regarded Cole as "best 19 year old pitcher he ever saw". Cole recorded a 3.49 ERA in his first year as a Bruin with 104 K's in 85 innings. In 2009 and 2010, he was named to the U.S. National Collegiate baseball team where he pitched out of the bullpen. During his sophomore year in 2010, Cole and now MLB standout arm Trevor Bauer led the Bruins to a school best (51-17) record and helped them become the #2 ranked team in the country. That year (by far Cole's college best) he went 11-4 on the mound with a 3.37 ERA and 153 K's in 123 innings, finishing 3rd amongst all NCAA pitchers in strikeouts. The same year, UCLA lost to the #1 team in the nation, South Carolina in the final of the College World Series. His final year in college Cole experienced a slight decline which was largely in part because of a fall off in talent on the Bruin's team after their College World Series appearance. In his last year at UCLA, Cole was 6-8 with a 3.31 ERA (the sole bright spot that year) his lowest in college, and 119 K's over 114 innings. Despite a bitter ending to his time at UCLA, Cole had a remarkable career as a Bruin, earning the expericne of being a 3 year front end starting pitcher and pitching under the bright lights of the ultimate stage that is the College World Series.
In 2011, Gerrit Cole was selected by the Pirates as the first overall pick of the 2011 MLB draft. The Bucs were sure on their pick of Cole, stating that he was by far the best player on the board and that he would be MLB ready before any other arm in the draft.
Although he signed with the Pirates too late to participate in MILB play that year, he did manage to get to the Arizona Fall league to log some innings. He had 16 K's in 15 innings pitched in the AFL and was also named to the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars game in his short time with the Mesa Solar Sox.
The next year (2012) Cole was invited to spring training with the Pirates as a non roster invitee. He started the 2012 season with the Class A Advanced Bradenton Maruders alongside another standout arm we will hopefully be seeing late this summer in Jameson Taillon. After a short time in Bradenton he was named to FSL All Star game and promoted to AA Altoona Curve shortly after.In 12 starts with the Curve, Cole posted a stellar 2.90 ERA before being promoted to AAA Indianapolis in August where he was able to earn one win in just one start.
Prior to the start of Spring Training of the 2013 season Cole was ranked as the #9 prospect in all of baseball by mlb.com. This year he was once again invited to Spring Training and began to open the eyes of all in attendance whether he was throwing a quick side bullpen or throwing his first game of the spring at McKechnie Field. His consistenly high 90's fastball and devastating upper 80's to 90 mph slider left Bucs catcher Michael McKenry astounded after a simulated game early this spring. "He is by far the best arm that I've seen on this team since I've been here...he's just got that swagger about him that he uses on top of his absolutely electric stuff".
So far this spring Cole is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 2 games pitched and continuing his "MO" as a power pitcher with 10 K's. Today he pitched a strong 4 innings against the Minnesota Twins in his first spring start and third appearance overall. Through 4 today he struck out 4 and allowed no walks, only one run allowed in the Pirates 2-1 loss to the Twins.
Unfortunately to the dismay of many Pirate fans, Cole will be starting the season in AAA Indianapolis and we probably won't be seeing him until June so that the Pirates can get that extra year out of him so to speak. So we don't know exactly when we will see Gerrit Cole pitching in PNC Park, but what we do know is that Cole is a power pitching, "strikeout guy" which he has shown in all the levels he has pitched at in his young career. His presence one of a kind for a prospect of his age and level one that even the MLB players in camp can feel. He has a maturity that will be sure to help him as soon as he is called up to big league club and that will deter him from the type of rough minor league outing that could retard his call up time to the majors. This kid has proven himself everywhere he has been in his career from UCLA to Altoona and as Pirates President Frank Coonelly says, "Gerrit is MLB ready".
The only thing left to do is wait till we all get to flood the ticket booths at PNC to get a chance to see Gerrit Cole make his first MLB debut with the Pirates. A Gerrit Cole bobble head night is not that many years in the future people, don't worrry!