AUSTIN COLEY, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: July 14, 1992
Drafted: 8th Round, 251st Overall, 2014
How Acquired: Draft
College: Belmont University
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|When the Pirates drafted him, the scouting reports on Coley said he throws a 92-93 mph fastball, a change that serves as his out pitch, and a curve that needs work. He had mono before the 2014 season and it affected his velocity, but that was back up to the low-90s by the end of the season. The illness may also have affected his control, which was good during his first two seasons but slipped quite a bit in his junior year. He had good K rates in college. Although his change was his best pitch in college, the Pirates believed it needed work. Baseball America did not rank Coley among its top 500 draft prospects, but did rank him 15th among the top 40 prospects in Tennessee. The Mets selected Coley as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2013, but he did not sign. He signed with the Pirates shortly after the draft for a bonus of $125,000, a little under the slot value of $153,900.
Coley opened in the rotation at Jamestown, but went out with a shoulder strain after two starts. He gave up six runs in an inning and two-thirds in his first one, which inflated his numbers some. He returned at the end of July, but didn’t pitch all that well the rest of the way, with opponents hitting .308 against him. He had a big platoon split, with left-handed batters posting a .943 OPS against him, versus .779 by right-handed batters.
Coley stayed healthy and in the West Virginia rotation all season. He led the South Atlantic League in wins — no other pitcher had more than 12. He didn’t dominate, though, succeeding mainly by walking very few hitters. Opponents hit 260/302/439 against him and he gave up a lot of HRs (18) and doubles (40). He appears to be a flyball pitcher. He had a milder platoon split, with a .785 OPS by left-handed hitters and .706 by right-handed hitters.
Coley spent the season in the Bradenton rotation and had largely the same season as the year before, except most things got a little worse. He walked more and struck out fewer. He continued to allow hitters to drive the ball; his opponents’ slugging average of .410 and HR/9 of 1.0 were both well above the league averages of .356 and 0.6. Coley mostly struggled through the last several months of the season, with an ERA of 6.03 from June 26 through the end of the season. He again had a modest platoon split.
The Pirates originally intended Coley to pitch out of the Altoona bullpen, but due to various circumstances he ended up in the rotation for most of the season. He continued to be somewhat hittable; opponents batted .261 against him, compared to .262 the year before. He reduced his opponents’ slugging average and HR/9, though, to .372 and 0.6, both of which were better than the league averages of .397 and 0.9. This probably resulted from an increase in his groundball rate, from 40.0% in 2016 to 48.9%. Coley was a little more effective against left-handed than right-handed hitters.
Coley made good progress in 2017. When the Pirates’ decision to employ Tyler Glasnow and Steven Brault as relievers in the majors opened up some spots in the AAA rotation, one went to Coley. Unfortunately, he was overmatched at Indianapolis and the Pirates moved him down to Altoona at the end of May. After one start there, he went on the disabled list with a shoulder strain. He returned in mid-July, but went out again with the same shoulder problem in early August.
Assuming he’s healthy, Coley could get another shot at AAA in 2019.
|2019: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $125,000
MiLB Debut: 2014
MiLB FA Eligible: 2020
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2017
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 8, 2013: Drafted by the New York Mets in the 27th round, 806th overall pick.
June 6, 2014: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 8th round, 251st overall pick; signed on June 12.