Gerrit Cole Shines in Altoona Curve Debut


While the Pittsburgh Pirates bats be busy making Francisco Liriano look like a Cy Young candidate Wednesday night, their 2011 No. 1 pick was going the same in his Double-A debut.

No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole went five innings, yielding five hits and two runs while striking out six without a walk, to pick up the decision in Altoona’s 9-4 victory over New Britain. It was the UCLA’s product’s sixth consecutive victory, continuing the streak he begun with Bradenton in the Florida State League.

Cole retired the first nine men he faced. He wound up making 74 pitches, 52 for strikes.

His fastball was as advertised, reaching 97 MPH pretty consistently, also showing a devastating changeup and quality breaking stuff throughout. To the final two hitters he faced in the fifth inning, Cole hit 99 MPH on four consecutive pitches.

He needed only 12 pitches (11 strikes) to get through a perfect first inning.

"“I felt pretty good,” Cole said to Bob Cohn of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I had some butterflies beforehand, but they went away like they always do. It happens every game. It was kind of reassuring. It was like any other start.”"

Cole was  5-1 with  a 2.55 ERA at Bradenton but had a 1.96 ERA in his last 10 starts.

He didn’t just impress Pirates fans who are anxiously awaiting Cole’s arrival in Pittsburgh one day, but also Altoona pitching coach Jeff Johnson as Johnson told Paul Zeise from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"“He was not out there trying to blow everyone away, and that gives him an opportunity to make those fastballs when he wants them,” Curve pitching coach Jeff Johnson said. “I was impressed with his composure — his fastball was outstanding, it was downhill and down in the zone but he really mixed it up well and didn’t go out there to try and show people he could throw 98 just to do it.”"

Cole’s first start has to be viewed as a success and if he can continue this pace, it’s not out of the question to think he could make it to the big roster sometime next season.