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Rockies Top 10 Prospects
By Tracy Ringolsby
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 170. Drafted: HSHamilton, Ohio, 1997 (2nd round). Signed by: Ed Santa
Background: After five years in pro ball without getting past high Class A Salem, Cook built on his emergence in the second half of 2001 to move quickly up the final three rungs on the ladder. He started 2002 at Double-A Carolina, where managers voted him the Southern Leagues best pitching prospect. After a brief visit to Triple-A Colorado Springs, he finished the season with the Rockies. He turned in quality starts in his first four attempts. Colorado decided to shut him down in mid-September after he reached 195 innings, surpassing his previous career high. Cook led the system with a 2.37 ERA, pitched in the Futures Game at midseason and was named the organizations minor league pitcher of the year.
Strengths: Cook is a power pitcher with excellent command. His calling card is a heavy sinker that ranges from 93-96 mph. He also uses a four-seam fastball that hits 96-98 mph. He shows stamina, carrying his velocity into late innings and working at least 155 innings in each of the last three seasons. Cook has an exceptional 85-89 mph slurve that looks like a forkball with its late explosion. He refined his mechanics in 2001 and has a compact and smooth delivery that helped his command and velocity. Hes an excellent athlete.
Weaknesses: Cook has to continue to work on his offspeed pitch, particularly at Coors Field, where varying speeds is mandatory. He has experimented with a couple of grips and figures to develop a forkball. His slurve is a key pitch, but he can get a little lazy with it, particularly when he is ahead in the count. He has a tendency to try to overpower hitters when he gets ahead in the count instead of just getting them out. For a pitcher with such electric stuff, Cook doesnt miss as many bats as would be expected.
The Future: Colorado is counting on Cook to fill a rotation spot and pick up where Jason Jennings left off. The Rockies limites Cook to 36 innings in the majors last seasonkeeping him eligible for the National League rookie of the year award, which Jennings won in 2002. Cook eventually will take over as the Rockies No. 1 starter.