Friday, June 22, 2012

Scouting Report on Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole made his first start in AA on Wednesday June 20th 2012. Cole was picked by the Yankees in the 1st round of the 2008 draft, and then (after attending UCLA) was picked in the first round again in the 2011 draft by the Pirates. He was ranked as the Pirates 12th best prospect coming into the year by Baseball America and received similar rankings from other publications. So far, in what is still a pretty small sample size at 14 starts, Cole has been as advertized with a 3.02 FIP and 3.09 SIERA. Over a quarter of his at-bats end with strikeouts for a really nice 3.57 K/BB ratio. The Baseball Cube rates his strikeout ability as his best attribute at 91 out of 100. 

The first thing you notice about Cole is his velocity. He hit 95 MPH to the first batter on a tailing pitch out of zone. It looks like he has a straight 4 seamer and a moving fastball to go along with it. He sits 97-98 MPH on his straight 4 seamer. He has a very easy looking delivery, seemingly using very little effort. He has a slight hesitation but not it's not a crazy pause. You could count 5 different pitches, the fastballs, a slider, a slurve looking pitch, and a changeup. A nasty pitch with late break got a looking strikeout, and then he got a whiff on the next batter at 96 MPH. He was throwing strikes, and getting ahead of hitters very well. He really showed no breaking stuff in the first. Cole isn't afraid to just throw it down the middle, which is both a positive and a negative thing. He was getting a lot of weak fly-balls, and the 2nd was mainly fastballs as well. However, he threw a lot of moving fastballs until he showed off a nasty slider in a 1-2 count for a strikeout. The slider has very good late break at 86 mph. It can basically be his feature pitch when he wants it to be. He then started mixing in the slurve looking pitch. Occasionally, he throws a 94 MPH moving fastball down in the zone that is really good . It looks almost like a sinker, or at least functions like one. Defensively, he appears to field his position well and looks like a good athlete. It did appear like he was having control problems with his change. Cole sometimes throws it nowhere near the plate and sometimes right down the middle, but it's a good pitch with good break and good speed differential (and yet another potential strikeout pitch). I don't think he is going to be a ground-ball pitcher. Strikeouts and weak fly-balls will be what he gets when he is on, despite the low moving fastball (he got a lot of ground-balls in A+, so he may be able to be a ground-ball pitcher, it just didn't really look like it considering his stuff). The 4 seamer is a pitch he likes to throws high. He can throw the slurve for strikes but hangs it at times. This may not matter when all of his pitches are working. Other than occasional lapses in control, Cole looked very advanced. If one was looking for flaws, one could point out that he threw too many flat fastballs down the middle. The Baseball Cube rates his control at 58, but from what I saw, it seems better than that.

Cole pitched in the Arizona Fall League in 2011 and threw 15 solid innings. This is only notable because we actually have Pitch F/X data from one of those outings. The pitch classifications are a little weird as it had him as a Fastball/Sinker/Cutter/Slider/Changeup pitcher, a little different then what I had him (the big thing is that I didn't see the cutter). It was only a 29 pitch outing, so he was able to run the velocity up a little bit more, but he was averaging 99.36 MPH on his fastball with a change around 88 MPH. He also had pretty good movement on his pitches, as you can see here:

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