Cole absorbed lessons in big league camp
Bucs prospect reassigned, but impressed organization first
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Gerrit Cole's getting-to-know-you Spring Training ended Thursday morning, when the Pirates' top pick in last June's First-Year Player Draft was reassigned to Minor League camp.So Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington was correct weeks ago when he encouraged Major League campers, players and visiting fans alike, to "get a quick look at Cole, because he won't be there long." Huntington hoped to also be spot-on with his latest prediction for Cole, that the shift in camps will put him "in position to have a great season." Anything approaching greatness in his first professional campaign will only whet fans' appetites for more Cole, just as three weeks of rubbing elbows with Major Leaguers only whetted Cole's taste for the big leagues. "I had fun. I learned a lot about what it takes to be a Major League player," Cole said on his way out of the McKechnie Field clubhouse through a gauntlet of handshakes. "I soaked up a lot of information."
So did others in camp getting their first in-person looks at a 21-year-old right-hander, who with James Taillon forms what many insiders consider the top tandem of pitching prospects in baseball. Taillon is rated slightly higher because he was Drafted earlier (No. 1 in 2010, the national No. 2 pick) and already has a Minor League season in the books, posting a 3.98 ERA for 23 starts in the Class A South Atlantic League last summer.The fact Taillon didn't get the big league camp invitation extended to Cole said everything about the Pirates' objective in having the former UCLA righty briefly in their midst. "This has been an information-gathering time for him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I like everything I see. Everybody likes his arm, likes the man. I was happy to have him in camp. It was a tremendous learning opportunity for him." Last June's overall No. 1, however, wasn't about to soak up a lot of innings in Major League camp, so he was reassigned among his peers to allow him to fall into a season-opening routine. "Being in camp allowed him to figure out some things he can now try out," said pitching coach Ray Searage. "This move is all about development; it was time to get him going."
|"I like everything I see. Everybody likes his arm, likes the man. I was happy to have him in camp. It was a tremendous learning opportunity for him."|
|-- Clint Hurdle, on Gerrit Cole|
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.