Gerrit Cole Pitches Six Shutout Innings

On a night when I got to see Gerrit Cole pitch for the first time in person, the Pirates top prospect did not disappoint. Cole threw six shutout innings tonight against the Trenton Thunder, allowing just three hits and a walk, while striking out six batters. It was, off the top of my head, the most impressive outing I’ve seen in person from a Pirates pitcher.

Cole proved why he is the Pirates top prospect tonight

In the first inning, Cole set the side down in order, picking up a strikeout along the way. There were three hard hit balls off him all night. The first one was to the first batter he faced, as Trenton’s Jose Pirela lined out to center field to start the bottom of the first. After a strikeout, Cole got a weak groundout to end the inning.

The second inning started and ended with strikeouts. Gerrit gave up his first hit of the game, a two out single to Melky Mesa, who reached out and looped a fastball tailing away from him into right field. It was more of a desperation swing than anything with authority. Cole got the second out on a grounder to Brock Holt at shortstop.

The third inning had one of his few hiccups of the game. After getting a soft groundout to second base, Cole went 0-2 on the hitter, then ended up walking him five pitches later. The next batter hit a sharp low liner right to Jarek Cunningham, who caught it on one hop and completed the easy double play. Not his best inning of the night, but things got better.

The fourth inning included a hit similar to the one in the second inning, with the batter just reaching out to make contact, serving the ball into right field. Cole got two soft groundouts, then a fly ball to Oscar Tejeda in left field to end the inning.

Taking it to the fifth inning, this is when Cole looked his best. He retired the side in order with a weak groundout and two strikeouts. The inning looked like it could have gone bad at the beginning though. Cole was missing bad in the warmups, then missed on the first two pitches, one in the dirt, the other looked like a hanging curveball up out of the zone. He looked annoyed with himself after the second pitch (someone I was with noticed that too), then went about his work in dominating fashion.

The sixth inning started off with a long double that one-hopped the left-center wall. It came from the ninth place hitter, which didn’t look like a good sign, in what ended up being his last inning of work. Cole quickly settled down, recording his sixth strikeout for the first out, followed by two easy groundouts to end the inning and his night.

He recorded nine groundball outs and six strikeouts in his six innings, throwing a total of 82 pitches, 53 for strikes. He works quickly out on the mound, pounding the outside lower corner of the strike zone all night. He threw the same fastball to the only lefty he faced, keeping him off the plate as it tailed into the batter. The balls hit off him were weak, he broke numerous bats and got plenty weak swings, and swinging strikes. It is everything you want to see from a pitcher, including the velocity and a couple righty batters flinching on breaking balls. Almost everything hit off him was hit to the opposite field. The Trenton batters were constantly late all night. An extremely impressive night to say the least.

Game Notes

* Cole left with a 1-0 lead that quickly disappeared on the first pitch from Hunter Strickland to Zoilo Almonte for his 13th homer of the year. Before the inning was over, Hunter had allowed another run, which was unearned due to an error from Brock Holt. A hard grounder to the right of the shortstop was booted, as he tried to play it from the side instead of getting in front of it.

* Oscar Tejeda made quite a first impression. In his first AB of the game, he lined a home run to straight away left field, just over the fence about 350 feet away.

* Holt reached base three times, two walks and a single, raising his average to .323, which ranks him first in the Eastern League. He also stole his 11th base of the year.

* Six players in the Altoona lineup each collected one of the team’s six base hits. Not among them was Adalberto Santos, who went 0-3 with a walk. Santos made solid contact on a fly out to right field. He was the DH and batting third. Matt Curry went 0-4

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • Casey Jensen

    Love to see starts like this =P

  • nickmid13

    Just curious, but were you able to get any readings on how hard he was throwing?

    • JohnDreker

      I did not, I was there with family, not on the media pass and Trenton doesn’t have any gun readings posted, the one thing I hate about that place. With the amount of late swings I saw, I’d say his fastball was definitely on tonight, which would put it at the 100mph(top end) range you saw at the futures game. The kid has remarkable focus on the mound, he gets the ball back from the catcher, he’s on the rubber, staring in for the sign.

      Didn’t mention it above, but Trenton is the top hitting team(OPS) in the entire Eastern League. They have 130 homers, no other team has more than 90

  • Steve Williams


    “The numbers in Cole’s pitching line were tight, but the digits that left people in Waterfront Park buzzing came from the stadium radar gun. The 2011 first overall pick hit 100 mph five times Tuesday, including three times in the sixth inning.
    The increase in fastball velocity over time, reminiscent perhaps of the equally hard-throwing AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, is no mistake, according to Cole.
    “In the start of the game, I’m just looking to apply my mechanics and get a gameplan down,” said the Pirates’ No. 2 prospect. “But as I get deeper into the game, I can become more aggressive because I’ve faced these guys a few times and crank it up a little. I almost never get tired too, so I’ve usually got something left in the tank even late.”

    • JohnDreker

      Good stuff, a little misleading since there is no stadium radar gun and no one buzzed when he was throwing, 99% of the people there had no clue who he was or how hard he was throwing

  • Lee Young

    Good stuff John as always!

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