Gerrit Cole didn’t disappoint in his first professional start. The No. 1 overall pick struck out seven Palm Beach hitters in his pro debut with high Class A Bradenton, allowing one run on four hits and one walk in four innings of work.
After waiting until the signing deadline before putting pen to paper on his draft-record $8 million bonus last August, Cole didn’t pitch in any minor league regular season games but did make his unofficial debut in the Arizona Fall League, going 2-0, 3.00 with 16 strikeouts in 15 innings. Entering the season as the Pirates’ No. 1 prospect, Cole was assigned to high Class A for Opening Day, but don’t expect him to be there too long. If he’s right, Cole’s power fastball and devastating slider should overwhelm Class A hitters.
Cole’s night wasn’t perfect. He didn’t have any 1-2-3 innings and there of the four hits he allowed were doubles. Still, he was in the strike zone, issuing only one walk, and missed bats when he needed to, as six of his seven punchouts were of the swinging variety, and four of those came with runners in scoring position.