Former Yankee #1 Pick Gerrit Cole Begins His Collegiate Career

March 17, 2009

New York Yankee 2008 first round draft pick Gerrit Cole, who spurned Yankee fortunes for the collegiate life in Southern California has begun his career at UCLA on a high note. His line was 6 IP, 1H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K’s. He threw 83 pitches or 33 more than the Yankees would have likely allowed him to throw during the first month of spring training.

While the UC Davis team is not setting the world on fire this season, they did make the NCAA Regional tournament last year, and had seven players taken in last year’s amateur draft.

A week later, Cole took the mound again for the 9th ranked Bruins in the Houston Classic against the #6 rated Baylor Bears. Cole line of 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 8 K’s were equally impressive as they came against a much better club, and was in front of almost 14,000 fans.

He has not allowed an earned run in 12 innings over his two starts.

Cole threw 104 pitches, which combined with the 83 he threw in his first start, would have exceeded all the pitches the Yankees would have allocated for him this entire 2009 season. And this just in…Cole’s arm has not yet fallen off!

It is interesting that in his bio, Cole mentions that he admires Lou Gehrig and Mariano Rivera. If that is true, then why not sign with the Yankees?

One thing that is true is that Cole, as well as many other Yankee minor league pitchers would likely not be major league material for quite some time. With Sabathia, Burnett, Wang and Chamberlain entrenched in the rotation, Cole (if he signed) as well as Brackman, Betances, Hughes, Kennedy, Aceves, Kontos, McAllister etc would be vying for one spot over the next three years.

But the Yankees did not sign Cole, and taking the flier on the proverbial #1 ace starter did not return the expected results. What if they did? What if Cole did sign, worked out a little in Tampa and was assigned to short season Staten Island in the New York Penn League? What if he then started 15 games for the Baby Bombers and went 8-2 with a 2.72 ERA, striking out 52 in 72 IP?

Would the average Yankee fan be happy with those numbers? I know I would.

Those numbers, however, were put up last season by David Phelps, the Yankees 14th round draft pick in 2008 out of Notre Dame. He is a good control artist who is very efficient with his vast repertoire of pitches – think Andy Sonnanstine. I am not saying that Phelps will turn into a Major League 14 game winner like Sonnanstine, but while Phelps is not overpowering like Cole, he is a kid who can throw well and win games, so what is not to like?

The Yankees know how to draft – they just don’t know how to use the top starters they do draft and develop.

So, the best thing for the Yankees to do is use the extra pick this season they did get for not signing Cole to pick the best available position player. Since it appears they are OK with organizational pitching depth, the Yankees might want to pick a stud third baseman or power hitting outfielder.

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