Gerrit Cole Pittsburgh Pirates
Gerrit Cole was named to Baseball America’s All-Rookie team. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Baseball America released their All-Rookie team for the 2013 season, and Gerrit Cole was named as one of the top five starters. That’s not a surprise, as Cole was fantastic in his rookie campaign, especially during the month of September when he started looking like an ace. The other four starters were Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Julio Teheran.

BA noted that Cole’s average velocity of 95.5 MPH ranked second of all rookie starters with 50+ innings. They also noted that his performance with the Pirates, especially his 3.57 K/BB ratio, was the best of his pro career.

A big reason for that is probably that the Pirates have a different focus in the minors than they do in the majors. The minors is all about development, specifically focusing on fastball command. Cole probably could have had some dominant numbers in the minors by using his slider more often. However, the focus was on the fastball, and the end result is that his fastball command and movement improved enough that he could use the pitch at the major league level to set up his plus slider for strikeouts.

Another reason Cole’s minor league numbers looked worse was the nature of the minors and promotions. Like most players, Cole was promoted once he adjusted to a specific level. That meant he didn’t get much time to dominate at a level before moving up to the next one. We saw that adjustment in the majors in September, with Cole posting some dominant results. The difference is that Cole will remain in the majors next year, and will have a full season where he is adjusted to major league pitching. That is opposed to the minors, where he moved on quickly after adjusting to the level, and never had an extended time where he dominated hitters at a specific level.

That’s something to consider with Jameson Taillon as he makes a similar jump next year. Taillon hasn’t posted numbers that would make you think he can be an ace, but just like Cole, the focus has been on the fastball. Once Taillon is fully unleashed, and once he adjusts to the majors, he could also look like an ace, with numbers we haven’t seen so far in his minor league career.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Shelby Miller? None of St.Louis young starters impress me. Most of them are one pitch pitchers, yes they can throw more than one pitch, but their out pitches are fastballs, sometime in the middle of next year the Cards are going to trade for a starter, if not this winter.
    The difference between Cole and the Cards young pitchers is that Cole only needs to control his fastball, he has devastating out pitches with his slider and curveball, not to mention he can blow the ball past people on occasion.

    • Miller had a decent year, but I agree with you that he and Kelly aren’t that great. Wacha could be the real deal though. He didn’t pitch that much in MLB, but when he did, he was lights out, regular season or playoffs.

      • Wacha looks to me like someone that will start right out of ST in 2014, but at sometime next year will wind up back in the minors. The manager for the Cards wanted him to start out of ST in 2013, but the GM said no, he did not want him to get the innings and not have him for the playoffs, when you are the Cards, you can start planning for the Playoffs out of ST, most teams can’t. The Cards used Wacha sparingly knowing not many teams knew much about him and it payed off. Before the pros figure him out, he could steal the Cards the WS.

  2. Nice to have Cole around for a few years, IMO, we are looking at at least a 200mil product down the road, throw in Alvarez and your looking at about 400mil worth of talent in a few years barring injury.

  3. I guess I accept your thoughts about Taillon. How does the same logic apply to Kingham, who has better numbers than Taillon at about every level. Will he be a “super ace” when he reaches the Majors? Why have people generally considered Kingham’s upside as a number 3 starter whereas Taillon’s is as a #2 or 1A if Kingham always outperforms him?

    • Kingham has always had good command of his fastball, and throws it on a downward plane. Taillon had problems in the lower levels commanding his fastball, and threw a very flat fastball due to his drop and drive delivery. That has been the main focus throughout his career so far, and he has shown improvements. So that’s why Kingham has been ahead of Taillon from a numbers standpoint. He saw those improvements sooner.

      • OKay. But if Kingham is ahead of Taillon in development then why is Taillon on track to make the MLB club ahead of Kingham? What does Kingham lack, another pitch? Are the Pirates teaching Morton’s sinker to pitchers in the system that need another pitch? We hear all the time about the Pirates development plans of taking away spin pitches until the prospect develops fastball command. And they look to develop the changeup. But what spin pitches do they teach to induce groundballs? Or do they just look to draft pitchers who already know how to do that?

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