The Rising Stars game turned out to be not much of a game. Gerrit Cole took the mound after Danny Hultzen struck out the side, including leadoff hitter Robbie Grossman, in the top of the first inning. From the first pitch, it seemed Cole was trying to match Hultzen. It didn’t work.
Cole gave up a hustling double to the man with the awful mustache, 26-year old Kevin Mattison. The ball was hit hard and bounced past Rockies 1B prospect Ben Paulsen. Mattison watched Grossman coming in on the ball and sprinted toward second base sliding in ahead of the throw.
Cole fired a 99 mile per hour fastball and Nick Franklin drilled the ball to left center field for a two run bomb.
A chopper up the middle by Wil Myers was fielded by Cubs SS prospect Junior Lake who threw wildly bouncing the throw to the right of 1B Paulsen putting Myers on second base.
Cole got stud 3B prospect/AFL home run leader Mike Olt to strikeout with a 92 mph cutter in the dirt for the first out.
We were looking for Cole to regain his poise and get out of the inning, but it didn’t happen. After blowing the heat past Michael Choice for strike one, he threw four straight balls putting runners on first and second.
And then the crucial moment in Cole’s outing happened. He served up a 99mph fastball to Joe Terdoslavich. The Braves 1B prospect is a dangerous hitter having ripped 20 bombs in the minors this year. The selection of a fastball was questionable. Especially with having such a nice changeup, but Cole only threw the change twice.
Cole got a groundout before he was lifted after throwing 29 pitches.
The Pirates top pick allowed five runs on four hits. From the pitch F/X Cole relied heavily on fastballs and most of them were a bit off. For some reason his command was shaken in the big game. He threw 13 balls and while not all were up, just enough were to show that something wasn’t right. Cole’s body language showed what we felt might have been nerves, he was fidgeting with his hat, and a few pitches were up in the zone.
Robbie Grossman went 0-for-3 with a walk and reached on an error as the East Rising Stars lost 11-2. The East only had four hits in the game.
Many fans are frustrated, perhaps because they had read so much about Cole. Heh, we can’t blame them. It was his time to shine, but after watching Cole–there are too many positives to take away from the prospect.
His velocity is strong. His pitch selection needs improvement, but the fact that he has already developed those pitches is a positive. Other than those two changeups and three sliders, all the rest of Cole’s pitches were fastballs. It’s hard to tell what factor the wind had on the balls hit into centerfield. There was no question both balls were crushed, but we think it would have been a different situation if he hadn’t allowed the five pitch walk to Choice. And would have thrown a few more breaking pitches.
Remember that Cole threw 24 fastballs, sure some were cutters, but the lineup was filled with the best talent in the AFL. We don’t think Cole is going to lean on his fastball as much in the future. He won’t have to, but right now he is living and dying with the heat.
Last night it killed him.