Gerrit Cole will not likely help the Pittsburgh Pirates in their playoff push, but the right-hander will get the experience of pitching in playoff baseball. On Wednesday evening, Pittsburgh promoted their top pitching prospect from Double-A Altoona to Triple-A Indianapolis.
The move is to give Cole the taste of not only a higher level of competition, but to give him the chance to pitch in playoff baseball with Indianapolis. Triple-A will likely be sending several arms to Pittsburgh when the rosters expand on September 1st, opening up room for Cole to slide right in. The first of those moves has already taken place, with Kyle McPherson heading to Milwaukee for the weekend series.
Cole started his first full professional season in High-A Bradenton where he posted a 2.55 ERA over 13 starts. The right-hander whiffed 69 batters over 67 frames, and was promoted to Double-A Altoona on June 15. Cole made just 12 starts at the Double-A level before the organization decided to give the number one overall pick in the 2011 draft out of UCLA a shot to compete and a higher level. Cole posted a 2.90 ERA over 59.0 innings where he struck out 60.
“I saw a guy that was a very competitive individual, very driven individual,” Curve Manager P.J. Forbes said. “He shows you why he was drafted where he was drafted, and why we think so highly of him. It’s three plus pitches. He’s a competitor, battler, gets after it. He has the desire to succeed and be the guy. That’s not easy for some men to take on, that challenge. He’s got a ways to go, but obviously, flashed some good stuff while he was here.”
Over Cole’s last five starts with Double-A, the 21-year-old posted just a 1.67 ERA. In his final start with the Curve on Tuesday, Cole threw a season-high 110 pitches and pitched into the seventh frame for the first time in his professional career. Despite allowing six walks to just four strikeouts, Cole was able to work himself out of jams tossing 6.1 scoreless frames.
Cole was set to make his final start of the season on Saturday in Erie, but with the promotion Cole will get the opportunity to continue to build up innings. The right-hander is currently at 126.0 frames this year and will likely start the 2013 season at the Triple-A level.
Cabrera Takes Big Step in Second Half
When the 2012 season started, top catching prospect Tony Sanchez was the primary starter behind the dish in Altoona. But after Sanchez was promoted to Triple-A, Ramon Cabrera has taken over as the number one behind the plate. And since then, Cabrera has improved with the everyday at-bats.
“I think that kind of jump started him, the fact that he was now the number one guy,” Forbes said. “I don’t make that as an excuse, or that it’s a good thing because who knows what his role is going to be down the road. He has to relish whatever opportunities are put in front of him and make the most of it. Obviously everyday at-bats have been a benefit for him.”
In 69 games with Altoona in the first half, Cabrera hit just .228. But since their All-Star break has put up a .340/.416/.456 line. Despite swinging a hotter bat, Forbes believes that’s not the area where he’s taken a bigger step forward.
“The bat isn’t my big thing,” Forbes said. “How he called games and learned pitch selection and reading swings, helping guys get through games when they didn’t have their best stuff. That was more of what I’m proud of for him because he really made it a priority. As a catcher, those pitchers have to know that they’ve got their back, have their best interest, I’m going to take care of you. When you do that, it’s a lot easier to get commitment to pitches and buying to trust and all that. For me, that’s the big step he took in the second half.”