With few exceptions—say Mark Prior or Tim Lincecum or Stephen Strasburg—even the most talented college pitchers need time to transition to the grind of the professional game. The ball is different, the bats are different, the interval between starts shorter and the schedule more demanding.
The top college arms from the 2011 draft have not been exceptions to this point. Pirates righthander Gerrit Cole, taken first overall from a UCLA, boasts a nifty strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.5) for high Class A Bradenton, but he's also pitched to a 3.18 ERA while allowing four homers in seven Florida State League starts. Mariners lefty Danny Hultzen, the No. 2 pick from Virginia, has allowed just 17 hits (one home run) in 37 2/3 innings for Double-A Jackson, but he's also walked 5.5 batters per nine innings. It's a similar story for Diamondbacks righty Trevor Bauer, taken third overall from UCLA, who has mitigated a strong strikeout rate (11.2 per nine) for Double-A Mobile with an elevated walk rate (4.8).
Whatever transpired early in the season, Cole, Hultzen and Bauer brought their best stuff to the mound this weekend.
Cole picked up his second win of the season on Saturday, completing six innings and allowing one run on three hits (one of them a solo homer) to St. Lucie. He struck out five and walked one.
Hultzen dealt seven shutout, two-hit innings against Tennessee on Friday, though he walked four and struck out a season-low two batters.
Also on Friday, Bauer turned in arguably his finest start of the season by allowing one run in seven innings to Chattanooga, while striking out nine and walking a season-low one.
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