Jarred Cosart Hopes To Lead Next Wave Of Phillies Pitchers
The construction of The Four Aces in Philadelphia was high drama, playing out in front of a national audience at the cost of a half dozen prospects and $200 million. When Cliff Lee became the rotation's final piece in December, the Phillies became National League favorites and set off debate about the rotation's places in baseball history.
As the hype surrounding the major league club was just beginning, righthander Jarred Cosart, one of the Phillies' top pitching prospects, looked at the rotation he was scheduled to be a part of in Clearwater and couldn't help but dream. One day, he thought, his rotation-mates Brody Colvin, Trevor May and Jonathan Pettibone could form their own dynamic group of aces in Philadelphia.
"Our staff here is pretty unbelievable in my eyes," Cosart said. "We have five guys with a chance to pitch in the big leagues. We hope we all have the opportunity to play together with the Phillies."
After the group pitched together in low Class A Lakewood last year, Colvin was rated as the best prospect of the group, slightly ahead of Cosart. But it was Cosart who was chosen to start Opening Day for the Threshers this year. He rewarded the decision by throwing 4 2⁄3 no-hit innings to start the season with a 10-1 victory.
Cosart would pitch an even better game May 15, carrying a perfect game into the seventh inning before giving up a leadoff single. He completed the inning without yielding a run and finished the outing with eight strikeouts.
"I didn't even notice (the perfect game) until they got a hit in the seventh and I turned around and saw all those zeroes," he said. "Then I was thinking, 'I didn't walk anybody either.' "
Cosart has made a quick rise to become one of the top prospects in baseball, ranking No. 70 on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list before the season. Yet the 21-year-old Cosart could have easily spent this spring finishing his junior season at Missouri and preparing for the draft instead of pitching for Clearwater.
Entering the 2008 draft, Cosart was well thought of as a pitcher and outfielder at Clear Creek High in League City, Texas, but his commitment to Missouri and a large bonus demand kept teams away for much of the draft. Cosart fell to the 38th round before the Phillies took a chance on him.
Cosart assumed the Phillies couldn't match the signing bonus he was expecting and he would head off to school. As the signing deadline neared in mid-August, Cosart was playing in the American Legion World Series in Oklahoma.
"I told everybody I was going to Missouri," Cosart said. "I had my bags all packed. I was going to go straight from Oklahoma to Missouri."
But the Phillies weren't ready to give up on signing Cosart yet. In the stands, Jarred's father Joe continued to negotiate with the team, eventually agreeing to a $550,000 bonus. Cosart said he didn't know what was happening until he went into the stands after the game.
"It was about 11:15 by the time that game got over," Cosart said. "My dad pulled me aside and said they made a pretty good offer. I said, 'Yeah,' and just kind of went with it. Making that kind of investment in the 38th round meant a lot to me."
Cosart spent his first professional season in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2009. It was there that he, Colvin and Julio Rodriguez (the fifth member of the Clearwater rotation), began a winning tradition. They won the GCL championship and joined with Pettibone and May to repeat their success in the South Atlantic League in 2010.
Last year began well for Cosart, as he went 7-3, 3.44 in his first 13 starts and he earned an invitation to the Futures Game in Los Angeles. But a tender elbow led the Phillies to shut him down in late June, holding him out until instructional league.
Still, Cosart insists that he grew as a result of last year's challenges-especially mentally.
"I'll admit I'm a perfectionist," Cosart said. "Guys would get a hit and I'd beat myself up and overthrow a bit. Hits are going to happen. It's about how you react."
His newfound mental approach is reminiscent of what Lee strives for in the big leagues. Cosart said that's no accident.
"Cliff told us his mentality is 'Here it is, hit it,' " Cosart said. "He's about pitching to contact and attacking the zone.
"That's what they've been preaching down here on this staff. Just getting the ball and getting back on the mound and just going."
So far that had worked for Cosart. He ranked near the top of the Florida State League in ERA (3.17), WHIP (1.13) and innings pitched (54). And while his delivery is somewhat unorthodox, scouts have liked what they've seen.
"The delivery is not beautiful, but he's got a great arm and a good curveball," one scout said. "He has some life to the fastball and a good arm."
Now Cosart wants to turn scouting reports like that into big league success. After getting to watch the Four Aces in spring training, he came away more motivated to reach the same heights.
"Coming from high school, it's pretty easy," Cosart said. "We all had a lot of success in high school. Spending time with this coaching staff that we have here makes you want to work harder to get where they're at."