CLEARWATER, Fla. — Right-hander Gerrit Cole was reassigned to Minor League camp this morning. The 21-year-old, who was the first overall pick by Pittsburgh in the 2011 draft, had a non-roster invite to big league camp in his first spring training.
“I knew it was coming in the next couple of days,” Cole said. “It was expected. It’s good to get down here [to minor-league camp] and get on a better regimented schedule.”
Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington said the reason on why he was the first Bucco to be cut from camp was about innings.
“Really it’s about innings and getting a young man stretched out for a minor league season,” Huntington said. “We’re just out of innings for him. We’ve got these other guys who are in a legitimate competition to make the club. We’re trying to weed through. Even those decisions are going to be difficult. You get nine innings a day and we want to make sure we’re keeping Gerrit on track, get him stretched out, get him down with his pitching coach, and get him in a position to have a great season.”
“Love the arm. He’s had a great experience in camp. He learned a lot from our guys. He’s been exposed to this environment and had a few extra days he wouldn’t have had if we just brought him into minor league camp. It’s been a good experience for him.”
Cole had a sit down talk in Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle’s office, along with pitching coach Ray Searage, where he heard the news.
“They just said it was a pleasure having you out here, hope you learned a lot, and look forward to seeing you soon,” Cole said. “I would have liked some more innings up there, that would have been nice. I learned a lot and got to know a lot of the guys. It was fun.”
“We’re happy to have had him in camp,” Hurdle said. ‘I think it was a tremendous learning opportunity for him. Everybody likes the arm. Everybody likes the man. He knows he’s got a lot of work in front of him. Innings are at a premium right now. He needs to get his game in play. He needs to get his season in play. He needs to get down there, go to work every fifth day to get stretched out and prepare for that. We liked everything we saw about him up here. He asked the right questions. He listened. He used his eyes very well. He used his ears very well. He was very professional. ”
Although Cole was never expected to break camp and head north to Pittsburgh, the experience of being in big league camp is invaluable.
“In talking with us, he talked about seeing how they go about their business, the consistency of their deliveries and what they do to prepare,” Huntington said. “It’s tremendous for a young pitcher, a young position player, to learn from the veterans…Part of the goal was to get Gerrit that experience, and to get him around some veteran guys that prepare the right way and do the right things.”
From here, Cole said he will begin on a five-day schedule to prepare for his first professional season since being drafted last year.
“Just to get regimented on a five day, and start to build the innings up,” Cole said of his plans in minor league camp. “They were just running out of innings up there. I was going 1, 2 [innings] and everybody else was going 3. Kind of jump back into the swing of things and really get going.”
Cole, who signed for $6.5 m after being drafted first overall out of UCLA, didn’t see any Grapefruit League action. Cole allowed a hit with two walks over an inning of relief in the Pirates intrasquad game on Friday. Cole made his professional debut in the Arizona Fall League this offseason. The young right-hander allowed five earned runs on 10 hits over 15.0 innings (five starts) with four walks and 16 strikeouts with the Mesa Solar Sox.