Cole's parents are Roy and Pixie Sulser. He has one brother and one sister.
Sulser attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, where he majored in engineering.
Cole enjoys camping, hunting, hiking and fishing as his hobbies.
MLB debut (Sept. 1, 2019): Before the game against the Orioles, the Rays selected the contract of and activated righthander Cole Sulser, who was placed on the taxi squad. To make room for Sulser on the 40-man roster, they designated righthander Aaron Slegers for assignment.
This is the first big league call for the 29-year-old pitcher. He was a 25th-round pick by the Indians in 2013 after playing his college ball at Dartmouth. After playing seven seasons in the Minors and undergoing two Tommy John surgeries throughout his career, Sulser admitted he didn’t know if this moment would ever happen for him, but his family encouraged him to continue his playing career.
Now, after posting a 3.27 ERA at Triple-A Durham in his first season with the Rays, Sulser will be putting on a Major League uniform for the first time in his career. After being a starter earlier in his career, Sulser will serve as a reliever for Tampa Bay down the stretch.
“At the moment, it still feels a little surreal,” Sulser said. “I think it’ll feel more real when I’m actually out on the field, in uniform, and get a chance to get into the game and just treat it like another baseball game. I’m looking forward to that moment where I go out and have my first inning.” (Juan Toribio - MLB.com - Sept. 2, 2019)
Dec 13, 2018: In a three-way deal: The Indians traded DH Edwin Encarnacion and future considerations to the Mariners in exchange for 1B Carlos Santana. The Indians traded 3B Yandy Diaz and RHP Cole Sulser to the Rays in exchange for 1B Jake Bauers. The Rays sent cash to the Mariners.
Oct 1, 2019: The Orioles claimed Cole Sulser off waivers from the Rays.
- April 3, 2022: The Marlins acquired left-hander Tanner Scott and right-hander Cole Sulser from the Orioles. The Orioles will receive prospects Antonio Velez and Kevin Guerrero, a player to be named later, and the Marlins’ pick in Competitive Balance Round B of this summer’s amateur draft.
|Birth City:||Poway, CA|
|Draft:||Indian's #25 - 2013 - Out of Dartmouth College (NH)|
Sulser's pitching arsenal is FASTBALL, CHANGE-UP, SLIDER, and CURVE.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 63.9% of the time, his Change 9.2%; and Slider 26.9% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93.7 mph, Change 83.7, and Slider 87.1 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 57.4% of the time, his Change 25.8%; and Slider 16.7% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.2 mph, Change 86.2, and Slider 87.9 mph.
- Sulser began to flourish when he began his minor league career. Sulser said he knew his time there would make a good transition to professional ball, where he wasn't used to spending all day and every day at the field. There, he could focus on baseball without outside distractions.
Sulser focused on his secondary pitches, seeking to maintain consistency with them. His arsenal consists of a fastball, change-up, slider, and curve repertoire—pitches he wasn't afraid to use. "I tried to go right after hitters," he noted. "I didn't want to sit there and try to be too fine and end up with a bunch of walks and put runners on base. My biggest strategy was to rely on what I knew how to do and go after guys." (Stephanie Metzger, Jan 2, 2014, Indianapolis Prospect Insider)
- Sulser talks about his Changeup
“A changeup was one of the first pitches I learned, way back when I was nine or 10 years old. At the time, the people I was with, like my dad, kind of said, ‘You know, let’s wait until you get a little older to throw a breaking ball.’ I also had pitching coaches that told me, ‘If you can control the fastball, and you can control the changeup, a breaking ball can come later.’
“I’m not going to say it worked very well. I was babying it. But it was something to throw at a different speed to get a hitter off the fastball, and that’s what I used it for back then, even if I was just kind of lobbing it in there. It was basically a palm ball. When you’re a kid, your hands are kind of small and you have a tough time creating a full circle. It was kind of, ‘Stick all your fingers on the ball and see if you can take off some velocity.’
“As I got older, into high school and college, I threw a standard circle-change. I threw a lot of four-seam fastballs, so I threw it with a four-seam grip so that it would have the same spin as my four-seam. Mostly, I just relied on the velocity separation. It didn’t have great movement. I’ll be honest: it was never a very good pitch for me.
Cole Sulser’s split-change grip
“I didn’t start throwing the changeup I have now until last year. I switched to more of a split-change type of grip. I learned it from my little brother. [Beau Sulser] is in Triple-A with the Pirates, and that’s kind of been his main off-speed pitch. I was looking to work on my changeup, and he has a pretty good one, so I actually got the grip from him.
“My old changeup had been my third-best pitch. It was serviceable, but when I came over here to the Orioles and talked with the pitching coaches, Chris Holt and Darren Holmes, we discussed how there could be some major room for improvement in the changeup category. So I started playing around with different grips and ultimately ended up really liking the split-change that my brother throws.
“I hold it along the two seams. All four fingers are touching the ball, so I’m almost creating that circle type of grip, but it’s much more of a split between my pointer and middle finger. There’s a gap in there, which allows me to bury the ball further into my hand and kill some spin and velocity. By holding it more on the two-seam grip, I feel like I’m able to get more sink and run than if I was doing something similar on the four-seam side. My thumb is on the side of the ball — kind of light on the side — and I try to not tuck it all the way under. I feel like when I tuck it all the way under, I get a little too backspin-y on the pitch.
“I want it coming out like a fastball as much as possible, but I definitely want to make sure that I’m getting to the inside of the baseball. I try not to over-pronate, or pronate way early, but at the very end, when I’m finishing the pitch, I make sure that I’m working towards the inside of the ball a little bit more than I would on a fastball. The spin rate is around 1,600 [rpm], whereas I was spinning my old one closer to 2,000-2,100. Going to more of the split grip allowed me to take off a couple hundred RPMs, which helps produce a little bit more drag, a little bit more depth, and change the velocity.” (David Laurila - August 10, 2021)
2021 Season: Thanks to a strong first few months, he reportedly drew a bit of interest at the trade deadline. There’s no indication a deal ever got close this summer, but teams should be more motivated to land Sulser now. From July 31 on, the right-hander tossed 25 innings of 2.52 ERA ball while holding opponents to a .207/.247/.304 slash line. Sulser’s strikeout rate actually ticked down from his early season level, but he paired that with a corresponding drop in walks.
Overall, Sulser’s coming off a 2021 campaign in which he worked 63 1/3 frames with a 2.70 ERA/3.45 SIERA. He punched out a solid 28.4% of batters faced while only walking 8.9% of his opponents. Despite middle-of-the-road velocity, Sulser racked up plenty of whiffs on a back-spinning four-seam fastball which he generally featured up in the strike zone.
He backed that up with a solid changeup that he located consistently down and arm side, an effective weapon that was crucial in neutralizing left-handed hitters, who hit only .186/.270/.274 in 127 plate appearances. (Anthony Franco - October 26, 2021)
- 2011: In college, Cole suffered an elbow injury that resulted in Tommy John surgery.