Saturday, June 14, 2008

RHP Gerrit Cole, Orange Lutheran - HS (28th Overall)

RHP Gerrit Cole - New York Yankees First Round Draft-ChoiceGerrit Cole, RHP
Orange Lutheran (Ca.) R-R, 6-3, 190
Hometown: Santa Ana, Ca.

STATUS: Unsigned
Gerrit Cole elected to attend UCLA rather than sign with New York.

To the surprise of no one, the New York Yankees selected the best available pitcher in the first round of last week's MLB Draft. As predicted by many, that player happened to be Gerrit Cole, a strong-armed right-handed high schooler who dropped due to signability concerns.

Cole, 18, has been described as the best right hander to come out of Southern California since Phil Hughes. His four-seamer sits in the mid-90s, topping out at 98. He has a hard, late-breaking curve with good bite, tilt and depth. His changeup, used sparingly in his high school career, needs the most work.

Scouts are split as to whether Cole profiles best as a starter or closer. Those who believe the former, including the Yankees, point to his ability to maintain velocity and pitch movement deep into games. Scouts that see him as a closer zero in on his sometimes inconsistent command and a tendency to run up high pitch counts trying to strike out every hitter.

Cole's delivery will likely be tweaked. He lands on a stiff front leg and recoils his arms during his follow-through (think vintage Pedro Martinez). Also contributing to his availability at 28 was concerns over Cole's maturity. He didn't endear himself to scouts or teammates with his mound demeanor. On several occasions, he became animated with umpires and teammates.

“Gerrit has a big, strong, projectable body with a high ceiling,” Damon Oppenheimer told the NY Daily News. “He throws a power fastball with sink in the 94-98 range and has also developed a good changeup. He’s a competitor every time he takes the mound, and he pitches with a lot of confidence.”

As a senior at Orange Lutheran High School, Cole went 8-2 with a 0.47 ERA, striking out 121 batters in 75 innings. He was named the Trinity League’s Pitcher of the Year, a 2008 Rawlings Preseason All-American and was selected to the AFLAC All-American team as a senior.

What the Experts Say
MLB.com Draft Tracker:
"A projectable high school right-hander with the capability already to throw a fastball up into the upper 90s is bound to garner interest. Throw in a future plus slider and a changeup, all for which he can throw for strikes, and it's no wonder Cole is considered one of the top prep pitchers in the class. He's going to have to work out some kinks in his delivery and he's got Scott Boras as an advisor, but neither of those issues should keep him from being drafted early."

Baseball America:
Gerrit Cole was ranked 9th among pitchers (17th overall) prior to the draft.

ESPN's Keith Law:
"This is a great pick; he fell to the Yankees for financial reasons. Cole has the best arm among the prep pitchers in the draft. He has a loose, quick arm. He has the best fastball of the high school pitchers; it tops out 97 mph. He needs more consistency on the breaking ball. And he needs to just throw his changeup instead of guiding it. He's a high-ceiling arm that could be a No. 1 starter. If that doesn't work, he could be a dominant reliever."

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