First Pitch: Were the Pirates Slow to Promote Gerrit Cole?

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.

**Hunter Strickland was also promoted to Double-A.

**What’s Wrong with Jameson Taillon?

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The timing of the Cole promotion is not an problem. It would have become a problem if the Pirates had kept him at A+ for most or all of the 2012 season. They didn’t. They gave him time to regress and, when he did not regress, they promoted him.


Some people who are now questioning whether Pedro was promoted too quickly were probably the same ones pushing to get him to PNC sooner then he did.
I have been gradually losing faith in this organization from their scouting and drafting to their ability to properly develop the players. It is depressing to feel that way because I started following this sight from day one because I was high on the new leadership of this team. Even now I feel quilty of being disloyal while I write this but being far from an expert about baseball let alone the farm system I just don’t see the giant leap of talent that I thought there would be after the millions that were spent.
i have listened to arguements on both sides and understand the issues and although I hated the negative comments at first and just thought those people had an agenda other than baseball and still do in some cases I must say I’m starting to believe that Frank and Neal have taken this team as far as they can and maybe a new team should take over.
I may have gone off topic these last two paragraphs but I guess I just wanted to get it off my chest.


We all knew ahead of time he was spending his first month in Bradenton due to the better weather. His last start during that first month wasn’t dominating, he was scheduled to go six innings but went five due to his pitch count, so it’s hard to complain about not promoting him after that. Since then he has also had a start in which he gave up 10 base runners and another five inning start in which he gave up three runs. His last start was strong, it is now the All-Star break, when teams do a majority of their promotions in bulk, so they promoted him. This is actually to back-end of when people should’ve expected him to get promoted, somewhere between mid-May and the All-Star break was the time frame I gave anyone who asked.

At most he spent one month too much down there, but as I said, two starts during that one month weren’t anything special. In the long run, even if you think the extra month was too much, it won’t make a difference in his progress. He will still be on the same timetable, still get at least 13 AA starts this year and he still looks to be arriving in the majors at the same time(if all goes as planned), nothing has changed….at least with Cole, Taillon is a different story


Wow, your argument is compelling when you compare him to lesser talented college pitchers. The comps are Hultzen and Bauer and yes Cole has been held back. Its not a big deal really, but enough with the White and Pomeranz comps.

Ian Rothermund

What does it matter? To whine about comparing him to where other players is stupid. Player comps are stupid. What matters here, you ask? Player progression, period. Is he ready for the next level, yes, is he on pace to be in Pittsburgh next summer, maybe, fingers crossed. What’s important here is grooming a potential ace. Why compare him to Bauer when the Diamondbacks are doing an obviously stupid thing?

Ian Rothermund

Just to specify here, the statistics are relevant, as it’s a statistically driven game. What doesn’t make sense is comparing players simply because they were in the same draft class, or because they’re both pitchers. Compare their careers. I’m just confused. Because Bauer is already in AAA and Hultzen in AA, does that mean, you’d rather have them?

Lee Young

“He’ll probably start in Triple-A next year, then come up mid-season.”

We HOPE! It ain’t a given, yet. Too many variables. 🙂

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