Because Gerrit Cole
didn’t have a dominant senior season, many experts wavered on their opinion of the big right hander. He was a number one pick that didn’t truly dominate like everyone expected. Cole had a stretch in April where he surrendered 18 runs in just 18.2 innings.
Cole struggled to put hitters away. He wasn’t struggling with control as Baseball America pointed out in the article below, Cole had walked only 15 hitters, with three of those being intentional, in 76 innings.
"“He has not established the inner half of the plate like he had been, and that’s a problem,” UCLA Coach John Savage said. “It’s good approaches, it’s mistakes, balls out over the plate, and you’ve got contact. And it seems a lot of those balls are falling right now.”"
Cole had high expectations headed into his senior year, drawing comparisions to Stephen Strasburg, but he never lived up to them during his senior season at UCLA. What made expectations even more difficult was the lack of run production from the UCLA offense forcing Cole and teammate Trevor Bauer to pitch longer into games. (Bauer threw 133 pitches or more in half of his 16 starts)
Nevertheless, let’s take a look back at some experts quotes which are mostly from March and April.
"Could see him in bigs by end of 2012. [via Twitter in reference to Cole]"
In this April 6, Baseball America chat Callis spoke directly about Cole:
"JAYPERS (IL): Will Gerrit Cole be the draft pick who spends the least amount of time in the minors once signed? If not him, who gets your vote?Jim Callis: Fair to say, unless one of the better college pitchers immediately moves to the bullpen, someone along the lines of Texas A&M’s John Stilson"
"Consistency is the name of the game with Cole. His stuff is scary good when he’s right, and if he’s throwing strikes he’s close to untouchable. His mechanics are still a bit of a work in progress consistency wise, but when those come around so will his command of his three quality pitches. [Piliere, Scout.com]"
"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. [Parks, Baseball Prospectus]"
Law had this to say about Cole’s changeup which he compared to Johan Santana’s, and went on to say:
"…his (Cole’s) changeup is better than Strasburg’s breaking ball was at the time he was drafted. [Keith Law, ESPN]"
So the big question everyone is asking is will the Pirates devlopment staff be able to make Cole better? With the Pirates desperate for an ace, it’s a project everyone will be watching closely.
With a need to establish the inner half of the plate, it won’t be just us with our eyes on Cole, the opposing hitters will be watching closely as well.