Today was a short day in Pirate City, and a pretty quiet day overall considering the Major League team was off. The minor leaguers had a short practice, and closed out the day with two short intrasquad games. One game featured Jake Burnette and Isaac Sanchez pitching, and only lasted two innings. The other featured Gerrit Cole going up against Clayton Holmes. Holmes also pitched two innings, like Burnette and Sanchez. Cole was the only pitcher to go three innings.
The 2011 first overall pick had impressive stuff today. His fastball was 95-98 MPH, mostly sitting in the 96-97 range. He flashed a nasty 89-91 MPH slider, getting two strikeouts on the pitch in the first inning. He also featured a few other pitches that were impressive, such as a two-seam fastball that hit 93 MPH, and his curve, which was 83 MPH.
Because Cole threw an extra inning, he was the last pitcher on the mound at Pirate City today. His final inning drew the attention of several of the young pitchers who all marveled at his stuff. When he hit 93 MPH on the gun, one pitcher joked that it was his change-up. After a comment about how he throws every pitch in the book, Cole threw the curve at 83 MPH. The reaction from the crowd? That must have been his knuckleball.
Watching the right-hander throw is amazing, and even more-so when you stop and think about his pitches. Most pitchers throw their fastball in the 89-91 MPH range. Jeff Karstens, for example, averaged 88.9 MPH with his fastball last year. And that’s how fast Cole throws his slider.
He has a fastball that he throws in the lower 90s, which is the average area for guys with good velocity.
Then Cole’s four seam fastball sits in the upper 90s. If today’s range was all he had, it would be good enough. Not many guys can hit 96-97 MPH over and over. But Cole can do more. He can hit triple digits, and for unexplained reasons, he usually adds velocity as the game goes on.
This doesn’t include his change-up, which sits in the upper 80s and touches the low 90s, about the same speed as most fastballs. It also doesn’t include his slurvey curveball which sits in the lower 80s. After seeing a four seam fastball that can touch triple digits, a two-seam fastball that is as fast as most four-seam fastballs, a 91 MPH slider, and an 89 MPH change-up, dropping an 83 MPH slurve can be devastating.
That is a special pitcher.
The Pirates will have Cole throwing every five days from here on out, putting his next start on Sunday. The Pirates play the New York Yankees farm system on Sunday, the team that originally drafted Cole in 2008. Looking ahead at the schedule, Cole would make his second start of the minor league schedule against the Yankees as well. He’ll be increasing his innings throughout camp, until he reaches a plateau. Once he gets there, he’ll make a few starts at that level to get ready for the season.
**Matt Skirving suffered a hamstring injury a during camp. He can still participate in activities, but he’s not at full participation yet.
**Samuel Gonzalez hurt his shoulder after the instructional leagues this past fall. He’s able to long toss, and should be back to active status in the next week.
**Ryan Hafner has a hamstring injury. He is expected to resume active status tomorrow.
**Jeff Inman sprained his ankle doing workouts two weeks ago. He’s throwing off of flat ground from 60 feet.
**Phil Irwin hurt his shoulder during the fall instructional leagues. I haven’t received word yet on when he will re-gain active status.
**Wei-Chung Wang had Tommy John surgery in October and is still recovering from the surgery.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Gerrit Cole’s next to last batter, striking out Adalberto Santos with a 95 MPH fastball in the third inning.