UCLA SO RHP Gerrit Cole (2011) is obviously a sensational prospect, as most pitchers with three potential big league plus pitches tend to be. His recent outing against fellow top 2011 prospect Sonny Gray of Vanderbilt had scouts buzzing, but maybe not for the reasons that first come to mind. True, his performance against a quality Commodores’ lineup was impressive (5 IP 4 H 2 ER 2 BB 8 K), and his stuff (sitting FB at 92-95, explosive peak FB at 97-99; plus 81-87 SL, excellent 83-84 CU) was as good as advertised. The following, however, was what got those in attendance really talking:
Vanderbilt 1st - Harris hit by pitch (1-1). Esposito hit by pitch (3-2); Harris advanced to second. Westlake struck out swinging (1-2). Giobbi reached on a fielding error by 3b (1-1); Esposito advanced to second; Harris advanced to third, out at home ss unassisted. Casali hit by pitch (1-1); Giobbi advanced to second; Esposito advanced to third. Reynolds struck out swinging (1-2). 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 error, 3 LOB.
Harris, boof! Esposito, powie! Casali, vronk! Putting people on base is not a good thing for a pitcher to do, a simple fact that even Batman himself (ZGRUPPP! was always my favorite) couldn’t argue with. And I promise this isn’t a random thought brought on by a sudden irrational burst of machismo or anything like that. No, it’s about the way Cole went about establishing the inner half of the plate in the early stages of a big game. That can be something that separates a really good pitching prospect from a special one. Cole is clearly a special prospect whether or not he goes out and plunks three batters in the top of the first like he did last Friday, but it’s a comfort to know that he’s fearless pitching around the plate.