Pirates Add Another Elite Arm In Cole At No. 1 Overall
PITTSBURGH—It might take a couple years, but the Pirates have plenty of power arms on the way.
In picking UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole
with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, management added a 6-foot-4, 220-pound flamethrower with a 101-mph fastball to a collection that already included the three amateur arms they added last summer—Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie and Luis Heredia—through the draft and, in Heredia's case, an international signing with a total cost of $11.6 million.
"You see the size, the strength, the competitor, the 100-mph fastball, slider, changeup, and you add him to the great group of pitchers we've already," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We're excited about the pitchers we have."
Time will tell, but Cole might prove to be the best of them. He went 6-8, 3.31 with 119 strikeouts and 24 walks, slumping in his final six weeks. But management was much more focused on his overall performance and potential.
"Gerrit's been on our radar for a long time," Huntington said. "The power, the stuff, the arm . . . it's hard to walk away from that."
It remains to be seen how much money Cole commands, but he hardly sounded dissatisfied at being taken by a franchise that has not had a winning season since 1992.
"It's really a dream come true," Cole said. "You want to play Major League Baseball. Every kid grows up dreaming about that. The first time came around in 2008, and it really wasn't my time. The second time is now. We have to take care of some business, but hopefully, things will work out."
Cole was drafted by the Yankees then, also in the first round, but chose to go to UCLA.
For things to work out in Pittsburgh, he will have to defy history: None of the Pirates' first three No. 1 overall picks—Jeff King (1986), Kris Benson (1996) and Bryan Bullington (2002)—achieved the lofty expectations that accompanies that status.
• First baseman Matt Curry, a 16th-round pick in 2010 out of Texas Christian, was promoted to Double-A Altoona after batting .361/.477/.671 for low Class A West Virginia, then got off to a .308/.357/.500 start in his first week with the Curve.
• Lefthander Donnie Veal, the Pirates' Rule 5 pick two years ago, was assigned to Altoona as a reliever for the next step of his recovery from Tommy John surgery. He likely will stay in that role.