Clint Hurdle said something I thought was interesting on Gerrit Cole’s promotion:
“He was probably in a league, where you know what? How many [counter] punches were thrown back? I’m sure there were some, but when you get to a place where you’re continually better and performing better, you want to make sure you can rise that level of opposition where there’s more challenges for him as well. I think that’s what we’ve done.”
For the last few weeks there have been questions about why Cole remained in high-A. The questions pretty much started around the middle of May, and only continued as Cole continued putting up strong start after strong start.
Around that same time, questions began about Jameson Taillon. But instead of continuing his strong run, Taillon saw a “punch thrown back”. There were a lot of questions about why the Pirates were keeping Cole in high-A. Perhaps it was to wait and see if a punch would come back.
Cole did struggle at the start of the year in his first few starts. Then he started to dominate the level. But how many innings and how many starts do you need to be convinced that a guy has mastered the level? Taillon was dominant through 36.2 innings and seven starts. Cole continued his run beyond those marks.
To get some perspective, Brian Matusz threw 66.2 innings in high-A to start his pro career. Alex White pitched 44 innings in high-A to start his career. Drew Pomeranz threw 77 innings in high-A to start his career. So Cole’s 67 innings isn’t out of the question. And yes, I know the “but he was drafted first overall, and Trevor Bauer is in Triple-A already” comments will follow. But that’s not really good analysis. Just because Cole was highly rated, doesn’t mean he should essentially skip over high-A. Yeah, Trevor Bauer moved quickly. But Trevor Bauer currently has a 3.9 BB/9 ratio in AAA, and a 4.4 BB/9 ratio on his career. To me, that’s a concern, and something he might have improved upon if he spent more than nine innings below Double-A.
The overall impact of promoting Cole early isn’t going to matter. He’s probably not making it to Triple-A this year either way. He’ll probably start in Triple-A next year, then come up mid-season. If they promoted him earlier and he had a shot at Triple-A this year, he’d still have to start in Triple-A next year to get that extra year of service time. So instead of coming up in June, he’s coming up in late-April. It doesn’t seem like it’s worth it to rush his development, all to get him up one month sooner in 2013. That’s very short-term thinking.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates lost their fourth straight game, losing 2-0 to Cleveland.
**Pirates Notebook: James McDonald is hard to hit; Garrett Jones seeking consistency.
**Prospect Watch: Too many middle infielders moves Drew Maggi to left field in Altoona.
**Gerrit Cole was promoted to Altoona. He will make his debut on Wednesday.