Friday, June 15, 2012

Gerrit Cole Promoted

Last year's top overall pick in the MLB Draft and the highest ranked prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates' farm system, Gerrit Cole, has been promoted to AA Altoona where he will make in debut on June 20. The move comes after Cole struck out seven batters in five innings in his most recent start for the Bradenton Marauders as well as being named to the FSL All-Star game.

This move is not shocking to anyone. What is shocking is that it took so long to happen. Cole is the only college pitcher that was taken in the top five last year that had still been in A ball. Trevor Bauer is even on the verge of making the major leagues this season. Not moving him up the system was more a byproduct of the patience that the Pirates show with their prospects than anything else. The numbers definitely suggest that he should have made the move up the ladder much sooner.

Cole went 5-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 13 starts with Bradenton. The pitcher who most prospects believe was the closest to major league ready in the draft last season dominated. He struck out 69 batters over 67 innings while only walking 21.

Scouts say that Cole has some of the best raw stuff of anyone in the minor leagues. He throws a fastball that is consistently in the high 90's and will go as high as 101 mph. In his most recent start, his slider was being clocked at 92 mph. He can struggle to keep that pitch down in the zone but with how hard he throws it, it is a great strikeout pitch. He also throws a changeup that he didn't develop until college but has the potential to become a plus pitch as well.

Those on the optimistic side of things seem to believe that Cole could get a call up as soon as September but the likelihood of that happening isn't very high. I would expect to see him spend the rest of the season in AA with maybe a late taste of AAA. The news of Cole's promotion brings some light to Pirates' fans who have had concerns about fellow top prospect, Jameson Taillon. However, more likely than not they will be reunited in the Altoona rotation before the end of the year.


  1. No rush on Cole. I don't think the Pirates waited too long on Cole. Giving a 21 year old 55 innings in Advanced A isn't doing him a disservice.

    Also, I'd like to hear the organization's reasons for keeping him down there. Could there be a particular coach they wanted him to work with or were they working on developing the changeup in a safer environment?

    1. I agree that there is no rush. I just think that he hasn't had anything left to prove in A ball for about a month or so now.

      Keeping him down to develop the changeup does make a lot of sense to me. Especially with this organization already having struggles with a former first round pick that can only throw two pitches (Brad Lincoln).

  2. That's what I think of all the time with starting pitchers. Can you throw three plus pitches? If you're coming out of the bullpen, you only need two, and I think Lincoln is a perfect example of that. He's been lights-out out of the pen. But if he's exposed to a lineup for too long, they're going to figure him out.

    Daniel Bard is the same way. He could be one of the best relievers in baseball. If Boston wanted him to be a starter, they shouldn't have rushed him to the Bigs so quickly, even if they felt they got his fastball and slider right. Instead, they should've given him time in the Minors to develop his changeup.

    1. Developing the changeup is a big deal but what separates him from Lincoln is that his changeup is already considered to have plus stuff. He just has a hard time with maintaining arm speed with it. Whereas Lincoln's just isn't very good.

      Think a big reason for the move to AA as well is that after Cole rebounded from his first 2 starts that weren't so good, he just dominated and the hitters never found a way to counter it. AA will present the challenge of better hitters where constant adjustments will need to be made. It's a better test for him.