Pirates Notebook: Gerrit Cole Dominates, But Don’t Expect Him To Make the Team

Gerrit Cole struck out six in three shutout innings today.

Gerrit Cole struck out six in three shutout innings today.

Gerrit Cole didn’t have much trouble taking on Spain. The right-hander threw three shutout innings in his second Spring Training appearance, giving up two hits, walking one, and striking out six. He was sitting 94-97 MPH, and throwing mostly fastballs. He didn’t need anything else.

“He was focused. He went out there with a focus and with intent,” Clint Hurdle said of the outing. “Loved the pace and rhythm. Loved the downhill fastball. Low strikes. The breaking ball was sharp. It was a very good day for Cole.”

Cole struck out the first six batters he saw. One of those strikeouts came on a check-swing against a low and away slider. Most of the strikeouts came from the fastball. Cole either froze batters with the pitch down the middle, or blew it by them for the swinging strikeout. The final batter in the second inning swung so hard that he flung his bat ten rows into the stands on the first base side.

“That’s the plan pretty much every time I go out,” Cole said of working mostly with the fastball. “It’s the best pitch. You’ve got to be aggressive with it to get early contact.”

He did mix in the slider, and threw a few curveballs. He didn’t throw the changeup today, just sticking to the fastball and breaking pitches.

“They’re OK,” Cole said of the progress of his breaking pitches. “I don’t have great feel for the spin yet, in terms of locating them. But I can create some break.”

The right-hander didn’t get much of an opportunity to pitch in Spring Training last year. He’s already made two appearances this year. There are already questions being asked in the post-game interviews about his chances of making the team. Today’s game doesn’t say a lot, since the talent level for Spain isn’t that great. Cole has only pitched in two games above Double-A, so he’s going to need some more time in Triple-A before he eventually gets the call. No matter what happens for him in Spring Training, I don’t see him making the club, or arriving before mid-season.

Sanchez Off to a Hot Start This Spring

Gaby Sanchez had a big day today, going 3-for-3 with a double and a home run. He came into the game batting 5-for-15 with a double and two homers so far this Spring.

“Gaby looks good up there, he really does,” Clint Hurdle said. “Just the extensive work over the winter. A full winter’s worth of work. He got in a different strength and conditioning program.”

Last week Sanchez moved over to third base for the second half of a game, getting his first game experience there since 2009 in Triple-A. Today he started at third, but didn’t get any opportunities with Gerrit Cole and Stolmy Pimentel striking out nine of 15 batters in the first five innings.

“I might have been able to slide over for an inning at third when Cole’s on the mound,” Hurdle joked after the game.

Sanchez is currently slated to platoon at first base with Garrett Jones. He had strong numbers in 2010 and 2011, but struggled in 2012. It would be a big boost for the Pirates if he bounces back to that 2010-11 form.

Notes

**Jeff Karstens threw two innings today at Pirate City. One was a bullpen, and one was a simulated inning on the mound. The Pirates will see how he feels tomorrow, then will have him throw another two innings at a future date.

**Russell Martin could start at catcher on Saturday, according to Hurdle.

**Anderson Hernandez hit a three run homer today, and Jeff Larish hit a solo shot, helping the Pirates to their 10-0 win over Spain.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • https://profiles.google.com/116255365477483987850 jalcorn

    Tony doesn’t have to hit a ton to be an asset C, only 18 catchers posted an OPS north of .700 last season in 300 or more plate appearances. If he can carry over a low .700s OPS from AAA he will still deliver as a starting C. In reality we expected a glove first weak hitter from day 1, his early minor league numbers inflated the draft day evaluation.

    ZiPS has him projected at 1.3 WAR this year over 99 games.

    • https://profiles.google.com/116255365477483987850 jalcorn

      Crap wrong thread lol.

  • leadoff

    The press in Pittsburgh has already made a big deal of Cole coming North after ST. If Cole does not come North the Pirates will go thru the “their cheap” and “they don’t want to start Cole’s clock”. I do agree he will not come North no matter what the media or fans want.
    The biggest problem with fans and media is they don’t know how well a player is actually doing, they think a couple of stats tells us how someone is doing, but only the Pirates know how well someone is doing.
    Burnett is working on his fastball, Cole is primarily working on his fastball, their other pitches are not a priority yet, who knows what other players are working on?

    • http://twitter.com/YYMIkeCC YYMIkeCC

      i like what Tony brings but I’d like to see some indepth comparison between him and Fort, who also seems like capable #2 catcher

    • Kevin_Young

      What I never will understand is why it’s perceived as such a bad thing to worry about when you’re starting somebody’s clock…but oh well

  • https://profiles.google.com/108052838757004515293 Possum

    This game reminds me of the charity game the Buccos used to play each ST against the Manatee County Community College now known as State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota. That was the team referred to by me and another Bucco fan as the “Hated Manatees”.

    Just a work out for some of the guys that’s all. Nice to see Gabby doing so well but that should be expected in a game against this team.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dave.mccracken.104 Dave McCracken

    Cole will not make it from ST because of how cheap we are – plain and simple.

    Gaby may just deserve full time 1B bumping Jones to RF. Sure the defense in RF is hurt but an outfield of Marte, Cutch and Jones could put up some league leading offensive numbers and Marte and Cutch play good enough defense to make up for Jones’ lack of range.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ian.rothermund Ian Rothermund

      Yeah, I mean, god forbid they bother to see if he’s actually ready…or spend the first couple months training him on what to expect and be prepared for at the major league level. I mean, yeah, they have several other starting options, thus eliminating any actual need for him, which conveniently affords him more time in the minors. Reality is, the Pirates are only going to have him for 4 or 5 years considering that he’s a Boras guy, so regardless of ability, if I was GM, I know I’d be milking that clock time he has. If one rookie pitcher for half a season is the make or break for 2013…they probably weren’t going to have much luck anyways.

      • meatygettingsaucy

        I second both this and jaclorn’s comments. Good to see some knowledgeable fans out there.

    • https://profiles.google.com/116255365477483987850 jalcorn

      It has nothing, repeat nothing to do with being “cheap”. You can have a player for 7 years or 6 years at the MLB level, which do you choose? The Bucs only have to send Cole down for 2 weeks to get an extra year of control, its idiocy to not at least do that. He could be the 5th SP and start at AAA.

      When it comes to the June aspect it is about money allocation, not being cheap. You can wait until June and only pay the guy big money for 3 years instead of 4, that allows that money to spent elsewhere. Its budget management that every MLB team does.

      With pitchers, there is little reason to do the whole June thing, you should probably just use them when they are healthy. Trying to worry about 5 years down the road salary levels with pitcher variability is overkill.

      If I’m in charge he starts in AAA and you take a good look at Locke and KMac while Liriano heals and Cole pushes his way up. You can then make a move as soon as needed.

    • http://wkkortas.wordpress.com wkkortas

      Cutch? The guy those cheap bastards gave a $51-plus million extension to? The same cheap bastards who were the biggest spenders in the draft until Selig changed the rules?

      Can we just retire the “Pirates are too cheap” chestnut? It’s foolish, and it flies in the face of the facts.

  • http://twitter.com/YYMIkeCC YYMIkeCC

    no need to waste Cole’s playing time for a team barely fighting for .500
    IF we’re contending, Yes , but bring the kid up when he’s ready and the games will finally mean something
    also let’s ser Gaby play vs RHP b4 we crown him
    repeat after me
    small sample size
    small sample size
    small sample size

  • http://www.facebook.com/ron.loreski Ron Loreski

    Here’s what we’re gonna see out of Cole this year. A June call-up and and a September shut down, regardless of record. We probably wont see him pitch a full season until 2015.