An important member of the 2009 and 2010 Collegiate National Teams, UCLA’s Gerrit Cole is arguably the top arm in a draft class heralded for it’s pitching talent. Drafted 28th overall by the New York Yankees in ’08 out of Orange Lutheran high school, Cole chose to attend UCLA instead of entertaining the (reported) $4+ million dollar signing bonus the Yankees were prepared to offer him. Four years later, after helping the Bruns to a 51-17 record (best in school history) and a birth in the 2010 College World Series, Cole’s stock has risen to the top of the draft.
Standing at 6’4” tall, Cole is blessed with a strong, athletic frame and a powerful trunk. His build is ideal for a power pitcher and he uses his strong lower half to to generate premium velocity with ease. His four-seam fastball comfortably sits in the 92-95 mph range and will reach as high as 97-98 mph when he’s loose or when he wants to bring it. He has an extremely quick arm and opposing batters have fits trying to catch up to his fastball. With explosive life, premium velocity and sharp movement, Cole’s heater is his best offering and one of the single best pitches in the entire draft. If he can iron out some kinks in his mechanics, his fastball will be a true plus-plus pitch in the big leagues.
While Cole profiles as a prototypical power pitcher, his game spans beyond pure velocity and he sports two polished secondary pitches to complement his fastball. He throws both a hard, late-breaking slider with nasty movement and a power change up with deceptive arm speed and solid sink. His slider already rates as a 65 on the 20-80 scale and has potential to rate a tick higher with further development. His 85-87 mph changeup isn’t far behind and should be an above-average big league offering as well.
Though Cole is a strike thrower with above-average control of his fastball, he needs to hone his command within the strikezone. While he’s more than capable of throwing quality strikes, his premium repertoire is hung or left out over the plate all too often. While his mechanics are generally solid, he’ll fly open when he’s tiring causing his fastball to sail and his slider to hang or roll with tumbling break. His body, athleticism and stuff give him unhittable potential, but his command will need to take a few steps forward before he can reach his ceiling as a number-one starter.