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.