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Pirates Notes: Cole Continues Progressing, Offense Clicking, Prospect Reports

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BRADENTON, Fla. – Gerrit Cole continued his progression on the mound yesterday, building up to four innings on the backfield at McKechnie Field. Cole threw about 65 pitches in the outing, and will have two more starts after this before being ready for the season. Despite the delayed start, Cole said that his progression hasn’t been rushed this year.

“The progression has been very similar to previous years,” Cole said. “You continue to try to hammer out fastball command as best you can. I thought the last outing had a sharp curveball. Today I thought I had a sharp curveball, a sharp slider. Got some good swings and misses on changeups, which is something that we’re looking for. Trying to incorporate that kind of stuff.”

Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle talked to Ray Searage after the outing, and said that the report he got was “very positive.”

“Ray was able to continue to create opportunities back there for him, and challenges,” Hurdle said. “His fastball — good life, good finish. Some were up in the zone. The secondary stuff jumped out at Ray today. The curveball, the changeup, the finish, the action. They were especially good pitches for him today, and he threw a number of them.”

Cole was throwing a lot of changeups, and said he was looking for consistent arm action with the pitch. He got some good feedback from hitters, with a few swings and misses.

“It’s been a point of emphasis to continue to throw it in catch play, continue to throw it in opportunities in games,” Cole said.

Hurdle and Cole said that his next start will likely be in a real game, rather than a backfield game like the last two outings. He will progress to five innings in that start, and will have one final start with six innings and 100 pitches, before being ready for the season.

Other Pirates Notes

**The offense has been clicking lately, which is exactly what you want to see heading into the season.

“I like what I’m seeing,” Hurdle said. “It’s time to go.”

Hurdle said that he wants to have more of a routine with his starters this weekend, getting more volume and innings to get ready for the start of the season. The Pirates play three night games in a row, and Hurdle said this would also help the starters get in their routines for the start of the season.

“I’d actually like to play the whole last week pretty much night games,” Hurdle said. “We weren’t able to get that, and that’s something we’ve talked about with other clubs. You’ve got to get other people to go along with you with that. Because we could go out there by ourselves, and no one would show up, and it would be tough.”

**Gregory Polanco is one of the players who has been hitting well lately, with a home run in yesterday’s contest. Hurdle reflected on what he saw from Polanco throughout the 2015 season.

“I saw growth across the board. I saw a man more comfortable and consistent in some outfield routes. When he first came up, the routes were inconsistent, going to the wall was a challenge. Now he goes to the wall, he takes better routes, he goes and digs it out of that corner with a reverse spin throw really well. The accuracy of the arm, the ability to stick his nose in there and balance at-bats. There were different parts in the season where he was a very consistent offensive performer.”

**Earlier this week, Neal Huntington said that the fourth and fifth starter roles would be a competition between Jeff Locke, Ryan Vogelsong, and Juan Nicasio. Locke didn’t have the best outing yesterday, in his first start since Huntington’s comments. As for his thoughts on the competition, Locke said that it was something he’s been used to by now.

“It’s never been up to me. It’s not my decision to make,” Locke said on the competition. “It’s a question that I get asked every year for the past five years. I’ve never had a job in the rotation. I’ve never come in with one, and I haven’t really left with one until the last day of camp. Whatever they decide to do up top is what they feel is best for the ball club. And you have to respect that decision, whether you agree with it or not. It’s not your decision to make.”

Pirate City Report

By Wilbur Miller

The Pirates’ minor leaguers had a camp day yesterday, which means no visiting teams at Pirate City. Instead, they played two abbreviated intrasquad games, Triple-A against Double-A and High-A against Low-A.

The four starters pitched most of the way. From highest level to lowest, they were Tyler Glasnow, Jason Creasy, Brandon Waddell and Billy Roth. Glasnow’s control was good, including some of his off-speed pitches. Oddly, I didn’t see him strike out anybody, and I missed only a couple hitters. He gave up a few hard-hit balls, including two by Adam Frazier for a single and double.

Waddell also didn’t miss a lot of bats, throwing his fastball 92-93 MPH and getting a good bit of weak contact. He gave up two runs, one on a bloop single. Waddell also picked off Tito Polo, who was very successful at stealing bases in 2015. Creasy and Roth both got hit around some.

Arguably the most interesting pitcher on the day was the last one to appear. Adrian Grullon missed last season due to Tommy John surgery. In fact, he’s managed to throw only 58 innings since signing way back in 2011, although he’s put up some good numbers in his brief appearances. He had a quick inning, with one strikeout and two weak outs. The 6′ 7″ pitcher threw mostly 91, reaching 93, and added a couple changeups.

Anderson Feliz, whose bat, at least in camp, seems better than advertised, went deep against Creasy. Trae Arbet had a double to deep left-center and Ryan Nagle legged out a triple when Polo missed a diving catch on a liner. Kevin Krause, who had Tommy John surgery a year ago and isn’t playing in the field yet, batted in both games and had an opposite field double.

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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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