Gerrit Cole Links: Two Reports Have Cole As A Number Two Starter

Two reports list Gerrit Cole as a number two starter.
Two reports list Gerrit Cole as a number two starter.

Two different reports went up this morning about Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect Gerrit Cole. Both reports were similar, possibly seeing the same start from the right-hander, and the takeaway from both reports could challenge the idea that Cole is the top prospect in the system.

**Mark Anderson of Baseball Prospectus scouted Cole on Sunday (h/t Ed Giles), which was his worst start of the year. Cole gave up eight runs on six hits and three walks in 5.2 innings. Anderson noted that Cole has good pitches, but had command issues with his fastball (average command), slider (average), and changeup (below average). He also noted that Cole looked emotional on the mound, and showed frustration with his teammates and umpires who did him no favors. Anderson said that Cole’s stuff got better when he was angry, which makes me think a Gerrit Cole/Incredible Hulk photoshop from Rumbunter is in our future. Overall Anderson said that Cole could be a number one starter, but something was holding him back, and projected him as a high number two starter.

**Al Skorupa of RotoGraphs also scouted Cole recently, and while he doesn’t note which start he saw, the reports sound the same. Skorupa noted that Cole was easily rattled on the mound when calls went against him. He also noted that Cole was missing his spots, and said he needs to tighten up his command and control. He says that the potential is there for Cole to be one of the best starters in the game, but projects him as a number two starter or a high-end number three.

I’ve been talking about Cole’s lack of command all season as the reason he’s been struggling, so it’s not a surprise to see both reports mention that. Both reports are the same in that they say Cole has the stuff to be a number one starter, but both feel something is holding him back and have him as a number two. It’s possible that both reports came on the same day. Having two reports saying Cole is a number two starter draws concerns, but if it’s two reports on the same start, it might as well just be one report.

That’s not discrediting either report. Cole definitely has some command problems, and I agree that something is holding him back. I’ve been saying for weeks that he’s not ready right now. The Pirates also don’t need him with Charlie Morton and Jeff Karstens returning soon. At this point they should focus on the 2014 season for Cole. Don’t even worry about trying to get him up in 2013 just because that’s what people want to see. There’s a bigger need for Cole in 2014. There’s more value in Cole working on his command in 2013, rather than getting a few extra starts in the majors and adding to what will soon be a crowded pitching staff.

I still think Cole has number one upside, and he definitely has number one stuff. As for whether he can get there, I think there’s less optimism on that front now than there was in previous seasons.

  • Brad Lincoln?

  • I love how everyone is jumping on this like it’s gospel. Two guy’s opinion after a start the TURNED bad. He may not pan out to be a number one starter and he might have some way to go, but the planet isn’t exactly sick with 22 year old MLB ready aces. He’s not where he needs to be and it will probably take at least 3 years in the majors before he reaches his potential anyway.

  • I’ve never been a Cole fan, but if he ends up as the proverbial # 2 starter, I would be more than happy.


    • Indeed. Cole’s command problems would make him a #2 starter by definition. #1 starters are rare for just that reason — they need three plus pitches and plus command. These guys don’t grow on trees.

  • “The Pirates also don’t need him with Charlie Morton and Jeff Karstens returning soon.”

    Have you ever watched Charlie Morton and Jeff Karstens pitch? They are both terrible players who are even worse at being easily rattled than Cole will ever be. I know this is about Cole, but Morton and Karstens should not be on the big league team ever again. More importantly there are no spots for them. The Burnett, Locke, Rodriguez, Liriano, Gomez rotation is playing extremely well. To take one of them out for a bum would throw the team into shambles for a third straight year. As I see it right now Cole is their best option if needed. They don’t need to go back to the known below average, crappy pitchers of all those losing years. Its a recipe for disaster.

    • “Have you ever watched Charlie Morton and Jeff Karstens pitch?”

      Yes. As recently as within the last two weeks.

    • Why don’t you take the next couple plays off Dan. To call Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton awful players you clearly haven’t watched much Pirate baseball over the last couple years. Karstens while battling some tough injuries over the past two years still managed to put up a 3.5 WAR, have a sub 4 ERA, and never had a problem taking the ball against an ace so I have no idea where you get that he is easily rattled. Morton is one year removed from throwing nearly 180 innings and drawing comparisons to some guy named Halladay; must be a “bum” too. He struggled last year, but he ultimately had Tommy John surgery so he was playing hurt. Now he’s touching 96 in his rehab starts, and looking like a clear upgrade to the rotation as some of the pitchers, Gomez and Locke, are in for some regression. Bringing Cole up now risks what happened to a guy like Oliver who had great stuff but wasn’t given the proper time to harness his ability fully and now is held back by control. What’s the rush? If you have guys with the potential to contribute to the rotation without throwing prospects into the mix who haven’t shown they are ready then give it a shot. Worst case scenario, Morton is ineffective as a starter and can be used as bullpen depth and Karstens becomes an experienced long man. Certainly not a “recipe for disaster” because pitching depth is NEVER a bad thing.
      Take a lap and try again.

    • I’m gonna give you the Bryce Harper answer Dan: That’s a clown statement bro. Karstens’ toughness on the mound can’t be questioned. He’s fearless out there. How can you say these guys are terrible. What basis of comparison are you using? Cole is struggling in AAA so not our best option. I have been skeptical of Cole in the past and have had Taillon ahead of him from since Cole was drafted but Cole’s stuff cannot be questioned. He is 22. Plenty of time to mature. …and if he only ends up being Brad Penny who I think of when I see him sometimes…It’s not ideal but I can live with that.- frederick langford

    • Dan : with all due respect ( to this blog ) yours has to rate as one of the most ridiculous comments I have ever seen here. Do you realize it looks as though you have never really watched any of the players you mention,including Cole. You might have seen them play,but you sure weren’t really watching or paying attention !

  • Well, it’s nice that his floor is still in a major league rotation.

    better than LOOGY burnett and moskos and total flameouts JVB and Bullington. heck, even lincoln is looking to just be a reliever.

  • Like most, I want Cole to be in the best position as possible to succeed when he reaches the majors. There is no reason to rush him simply because he is the ‘top’ prospect if he is not ready.

    Now, if this was several years ago when the team had little talent of contending prospects, perhaps it would have been more acceptable to have Cole take his lumps and growing up in the majors instead of the minors. Fortunately, the Pirates are now winning. There is no room in the current major league rotation for someone who is not ready to contribute.

    Thus, for what likely will be most of this year, Cole should learn to master his pitching abilities and enjoy the cities and ballparks he will be visiting in AAA. There is no need to rush him. Sure hope that he can learn to harness his emotions so that they contribute rather than detract from his pitching performances.

  • Cole better grow up fast. We can’t have another #1 over all pick not pan out. Bullington was projected to be a #3 starter and we all know how that panned out. Benson was way too inconsistent even before he blew out his arm. Now we got Cole and his control problems. He still has time but we can’t have him spend to many years in AAA or he will lose his prospect status.

    • meatygettingsaucy
      May 23, 2013 2:54 pm

      Even if Cole turns into a #2 starter, that would hardly be “not pan(ning) out”. Cole was projected as an ace who, until reaching AAA, showed all the signs of being an ace. With that being said, I don’t think any of us should be getting worked up over Cole’s future when he has had only ten starts at the AAA level. Not everyone moves up through the minors insanely fast. And to top it off, Cole is only 22 and won’t turn 23 until September.

  • Obviously I’d rather see Gerrit Cole become the best pitcher in baseball. I’d love it if he just mowed down the competition and was a rock star for the the Pirates for 6+ years. The thing is, I’m not overly concerned with stuff like this because, even if true, that’s not really a bad thing. For one thing, I guess you need to define a number 2/high end 3 starter. One name I’ve seen thrown out there more than once is a young AJ Burnett. Would that really be all that terrible? Here are AJB’s numbers during his time with the Marlins. 3.73 ERA, 111 ERA+, 7.9 K/9, 4 BB/9, 1.284 WHIP, ~200 IP/year when healthy. That’s not really something to complain about. This is especially true if Jameson Taillon ends up turning into a #1 as projected. I know the hope was that the Pirates would hit it big on their “Four Aces” and would wind up with an unfair glut of pitching talent like the Moneyball A’s. That was never especially likely, though. So if Cole does become a good number 2, he’d still be very valuable and fun to watch b/c you might catch him on one of his “nobody is hitting him” days. With Taillon, Kingham, Glasnow, Heredia and maybe another “Ace” or two this June, there are enough guys who could end up headlining the rotation that hearing critics call Cole a #2 when he is at his absolute worst (like he was in that start)…OK. Again, I’m hoping for more, and actually believe he’ll bounce back from this rough start. If he doesn’t and he winds up being another AJ…isn’t he kinda beloved in Pittsburgh right now?

  • I’d rather see him work out his frustration in Indy than meltdown in Pittsburgh. If he has some growing up to do, let it be in AAA before his clock starts esp where there is no real need right now.

  • Maturation is the key, you are right Tim, he is simply not ready, his talent is a number 1, nothing has changed. This report changes nothing, some Pittsburgh media outlet will pick this up and make a big story out of it. Someone should tell the Pittsburgh media to stop saying he is not in Pittsburgh because of financial reasons.

  • These are not the first reports to question Cole’s emotional maturity–his entry in the Baseball Prospectus annual cites the very same problem.