When a player is drafted with the first overall pick, there are certain expectations placed upon that person. It is generally expected that they will turn around the fortunes of the franchise once they make the majors, helping to lead their teams back to contention and hopefully, a World Series championship. However, despite those expectations, there has yet to be a single first overall draft pick enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
While it is far too early to expect that type of performance from Gerrit Cole going forward, he has certainly pitched well during his time in Pittsburgh. Thus far, in parts of two seasons, Cole has posted a 21-12 record with a 3.45 ERA and a 1.191 WHiP, striking out 238 batters against only 68 walks. At only 24 years old heading into next season, the future looks very bright for Gerrit Cole.
It would seem that David Schoenfield from the ESPN SweetSpot blog agrees. On his list of the top breakout candidates, Cole is listed as one of the obvious possibilities. If the order they were listed in means anything, Cole is listed third behind Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox (perhaps a bit of East Coast bias factoring in?)
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Just based on his pure ability and how he has performed in his brief time in the majors, Gerrit Cole would certainly be the perfect candidate. He has already had a degree of success in the major leagues, and may be primed for more. Armed with a fastball that averaged 96.6 MPH and generates a solid amount of grounders and a hard curve, Cole may just be a pitch away from becoming that top of the rotation starter. As Schoenfield stated, if he can develop that change, Cole could be devastating.
The other concern with Cole is whether or not he can last for a full season. He did miss approximately two and a half months last season, dealing with a strained right lat muscle and shoulder fatigue. If he stays healthy, along with developing that third pitch, Cole seems to be the perfect candidate for a breakout season.
Just because it may be that Gerrit Cole is an obvious candidate to break through during the 2015 season to not make it any less likely. In fact, with the Pirates having a couple of potential question marks in the rotation, Cole being able to take that next step may be a major part of determining how far the Pirates can go in 2015.