- Full name Aaron Lane Cook
- Born 02/08/1979 in Fort Campbell, KY
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Hamilton
- Debut 08/10/2002
- Drafted in the 2nd round (70th overall) by the Colorado Rockies in 1997.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After spending five years without getting past high Class A Salem, Cook moved quickly up the ladder last year. He started 2002 at Double-A Carolina, where managers voted him the Southern League's 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, a career high. Cook led the system with a 2.37 ERA, pitched in the Futures Game at midseason and was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. Cook is a power pitcher with 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 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. He's an excellent athlete. Cook has to continue to work on his offspeed pitch, particularly with the challenge of Coors Field, where varying speeds is mandatory. He can get lazy with his slurve, mostly 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 doesn't miss as many bats as would be expected. Colorado is counting on Cook to fill a rotation spot and pick up where Jason Jennings left off. It was no coincidence he was limited to 36 innings in the majors last season--keeping him rookie-eligible. Cook eventually will take over as the Rockies' No. 1 starter.
Cook hasn't had a winning record in five pro seasons, but he showed signs he was ready to emerge last season when he followed up an 11-11 regular season by dominating in the high Class A Carolina League playoffs. He threw 17 shutout innings in helping Salem win the league title, including a four-hit, one-walk win against Wilmington in the finals. He was considered the Rockies' best player from the 1997 draft class despite being chosen behind first-rounder Mark Mangum, a signability pick. Cook has the best fastball in the system. He consistently shows mid-90s velocity and is durable, having been clocked at 98 mph in the eighth and ninth innings. He also has a quality slider with the action of a forkball. Instead of relying on his fastball 90 percent of the time, Cook is learning to mix his pitches. He has started to develop an offspeed pitch that is a variation of a splitter, and he can turn it into a legitimate split as he matures. Cook will open 2002 at Double-A Carolina, and it's not out of the question that he could be in the big leagues by season's end.
Cook was considered the top talent of the Rockies' 1997 draft, in which first-round pick Mark Mangum was a pure budget decision. Cook blossomed last year when he returned to Asheville, finishing eighth in the Sally League with a 2.96 ERA. His combined 11 wins were one more than the total from his three previous pro seasons. Cook has good pitchability. He has three quality pitches, and builds off a mid-90s fastball. He's durable and competes well, responding to the challenge of being in the same rotation as Chin-Hui Tsao last year. Like so many young pitchers who always have been able to dominate with their fastball, Cook still is gaining confidence in his changeup. He has the makings of a quality offspeed pitch but doesn't use it enough. As he moves up in pro ball, he'll realize how useful changing speeds can be. Cook got a taste of Salem at the end of last season and struggled. He'll return there to start 2001.
Minor League Top Prospects
Cook may be the ideal Coors Field pitcher. Who better to keep the ball in the park at high altitude than someone with a 95-96 mph fastball with unbelievable sink? "He has about as good a movement as anyone I've seen," the AL scout said. Compared to his good friend and rival Young, Cook comes out ahead in terms of velocity and command. His heat stays in the mid-90s throughout a game, and he can locate both his fastball and plus slider wherever he wants. Young has a wider array of pitches, as Cook still is trying to master a changeup. Outside of Lackey, Cook enjoyed more big league success in 2002 than anyone else in the top 10. The puzzling thing, however, is why he doesn't get more strikeouts (104 in his first 195 innings this year).
Like Peavy, Cook left the SL in June and finished the season by holding his own in the majors. He entered the Rockies rotation in late August and went 2-1, 4.20 in his first five starts. Cook was untouchable in Double-A, leading the league with a 1.42 ERA when he was promoted in mid-June. He showed pure velocity, reaching 97 mph with his fastball, and made progress with his solid slider and sinking changeup. His control is so good that it almost works against him. Cook doesn't miss as many bats as someone with his stuff should, probably because hitters know he'll be around the plate.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Southern League in 2002
- Rated Best Control in the Southern League in 2002