In 2008, during his senior year at Lutheran High School in Orange, California, he went 8-2 with a 0.47 ERA, striking out 121 hitters in 75 innings, walking only eight. Then he committed to UCLA.
In 2008, the Yankees chose Gerrit in the first round, the 28th player chosen overall. But Cole did not sign, turning down the Yankees offers.
GREW UP A YANKEE FAN
Cole grew up a Yankees fan because his Dad was from upstate New York. But Gerrit grew up in Southern California.
"I went to Angels games all the time,” he said. “I took a lot of flak, especially when the Angels beat the Yankees in the playoffs (in 2002).”
In 2001, a photo that ran in the Newark Star-Ledger showed an 11-year-old Cole at the World Series holding a sign that read, "Yankee Fan Today, Tomorrow, Forever."
He explained that his father grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., a Yankees fan "and he kind of passed it down." So Cole and his father went to the World Series games at Arizona in 2001, hanging out in the lobby of the Yankees' hotel and gawking at the players. Gerrit says his favorite all-time players are Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig and closer Mariano Rivera.
Despite growing up a Yankee fan, Cole did not think twice about spurning the Yankees. Instead, he went to UCLA and spent three springs pitching for the Bruins, helping them go to the College World Series last season and winning the Pacific-10 Conference title this year.
"I wasn't expecting to be taken in the first round and the Yankees really handled it with class when I said no to them," Cole said. "I knew and my family knew that I wasn't ready for professional baseball. I wanted to go to college. It just wasn't time."
Cole went 21-20 with a 3.38 ERA in 50 games, 49 starts, during his three seasons at UCLA. The statistics might not have been overwhelming, but Cole's stock only rose with scouts as his fastball reached 100 mph this spring to go with a hard slider and a developing changeup. (John Perrotto-Beaver County Times-6/7/11)
Cole is mature both on and off the field, becoming a clubhouse leader.
Cole was just hours away from becoming the first pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft when he got a text from a friend.
New York Yankees vice president of scouting Damon Oppenheimer was checking in to wish the UCLA righthander good luck before he was selected by the Pirates.
It says a lot about Oppenheimer that he stays in touch with Cole. It also says a lot about Cole because he and his family respectfully declined to negotiate with Oppenheimer for three years after the Yankees selected the hard thrower in the first round of the 2008 draft following his senior season at Lutheran High School in Orange, California.
In 2012 and 2013, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Cole as the #1 prospect in the Pirates' organization.
In July 2012, Cole had an interesting first two starts at Double-A for the Altoona Curve (EL-Pirates). The lights went out at Peoples Gas Park in Altoona in Cole's first game with the Curve, causing a delay. In his next outing, he was hit in the neck by a line drive, though he sustained no injury beyond a bruise.
Gerrit said that playing pro ball has not been that easy. "It's a different game than college," Cole said in July 2012. "The speed of the game is faster. The hitters are better. The competition is better. The biggest adjustment has been to see how my pitches work in a different environment, facing professional hitters with wood bats. It's still a learning process."
One thing that hasn't changed about Cole from his college days is his almost split personality. Off the field, the 6-foot-6 Cole is quite genial. When he's pitching, though, he stomps around the mound with a scowl on his face and is as intimidating as his size would suggest.
"I'm a competitor and I think everyone who makes it to professional baseball is a competitor," he said. "That's what drives you to make it this far. You have to love the competition and you don't get better competition than in pro ball."
Cole's girlfriend is the sister of San Francisco shortstop, Brandon Crawford.
- May 31, 2014: Cole grew up in Newport Beach, California. Gerrit grew up as a Yankees fan and in May 2014 got to pitch, and win, in Yankee Stadium.
Then, on May 30, Cole got to pitch, and win, in Dodger Stadium.
Childhood dreams rarely pan out so perfectly. When asked what was the best part of his Dodger Stadium experience, however, Cole had a quick response: It was still to come.
"Vin [Scully] calling the game, that's something I'll definitely go and watch and hear what stories he's got on me, then wonder how the heck he got them," said Cole, who, as any Southern Californian baseball fan of the last 57 years, grew up listening to the incomparable redhead.
Told of Cole's homage to him, Scully said, "That's tremendous. How nice of him to say that. You can tell him I told the story about him holding up a sign as an 11-year-old at the 2001 World Series that read, 'Yankees fan today, tomorrow, forever.' "
For Cole, the only thing better than having Scully describe his win would have been a chance to meet the man. But Scully's work this series is getting curtailed by games being broadcast on network TV.
"Maybe next time," Cole said, smiling. "I'll be around here again." (May 30, 2014 - Tom Singer MLB.com)
August 22, 2015: With the two teams locked in a battle for a Wild Card spot, the Giants-Pirates game was a big one for both Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole and San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford. But it was also an important game for Amy Crawford, Brandon's sister and Cole's fiance. She was in attendance at PNC Park, and had to watch blood and beau collide.
Ever the protective brother, Brandon attempted to send Cole a warning early, blasting a pitch deep to left field. Thankfully, though, cooler heads/the awesomeness of Starling Marte prevailed, and the baseball was caught at the fence. Cole answered by striking out Crawford in his next two at-bats, and Pittsburgh ended up getting the win on a Marte walk-off. We can only hope this won't spill over to the wedding. ( )
Gerrit is rarely starstruck. He'd only been nervous before meeting two people: Nolan Ryan and Derek Jeter. He added a third name to that list in August 2016: Vin Scully.
Cole, who grew up watching Dodgers and Angels games in Southern California, stepped into the press-level booth at Dodger Stadium and chatted with Scully, the legendary baseball broadcaster in his 67th and final season on the job.
"I didn't really even know what to say," Cole said. "I had a few questions prepared, but I felt like they were really standard, vanilla questions that everybody asks. Just that voice. You grow up listening to it. When you turned to the Dodgers game, it was the big leagues because Vin was doing it. There was just something about it. Nobody talked. Everybody listened when the TV was on and we were watching the Dodgers game."
Cole spoke with reverence about Scully's style and stories. He was dumbfounded when Scully -- a man who narrated Jackie Robinson's story, Kirk Gibson's home run, and countless other historical baseball moments -- said he enjoyed watching the "local boy" Cole.
"He was really looking forward to watching me play this series because he remembered me," Cole said. "I was like, 'What the ... come on.'" They had never met. But Scully had been a part of Cole's life long before their meeting. "I feel like I know him, right?" Cole said.
Even today, the California kid still falls asleep listening to the Hall of Famer's Dodgers broadcasts. "I told him that," Cole said. "He was like, 'Yeah, I get it all the time; people used to tell me in the '50s they'd put the transistor [radio] underneath their pillow and fall asleep. My contribution to the world is helping cure insomnia.'" (Berry - MLB.com - 8/14/16)
November 12, 2016: Cole married Brandon Crawford's sister, Amy.
Leadership Role: When Jameson Taillon arrives at the ballpark each day, he looks forward to hearing from Gerrit Cole. It's a form of entertainment, part master class and part guessing game.
One day, Taillon said, Cole will be breaking down his baserunning. The next day, he's focusing on his bunting form. Then it's the shape of his breaking ball, his changeup, how he takes the ball out of his glove, everything down to the way he puts his hand into his glove.
"He's a smart dude. He's very analytical," Taillon said. "He's a thinker. There's always something going on in his brain."
Cole was be counted on to lead a young rotation as the Pirates' Opening Day starter. He's already taken on that role in Pittsburgh's clubhouse, where teammates value his leadership, intensity and attention to detail. (Adam Berry - MLB.com - March 22, 2017)
June 2011: The Pirates made Cole the #1 pick in the draft. And they signed him, via scout Rick Allen, on the August 15 deadline, for an $8 million signing bonus. Cole can make more than $9 million in guaranteed money if he reaches the Majors by 2013 (which he did). Cole's deal was a Minor League one, though it is the highest-paying Minor League deal ever handed out.
Jan 13, 2016: Cole and the Pirates avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $3.75 million.
- January 2017: Gerrit and the Buccos again avoided arbitration, signing a one-year, $3.75 million deal.
|Birth City:||Newport Beach, CA|
|Draft:||Pirates #1 - 2011 - Out of UCLA|
Cole has a 94-102 mph four-seam FASTBALL that has natural armside run with extra life at the end. He also has a 91-95 mph two-seam sinker. And he has an 87-90 mph power SLIDER that is a nasty pitch with good depth and sharp darting movement coming from his three-quarters arm slot. His biting, late-breaking 81-84 mph CURVEBALL with depth. He throws an occasional CUTTER. He also has good movement on his fairly decent 87-90 mph CHANGEUP with good arm speed.
Gerrit's sinker is an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. And most scouts give his swing-and-miss slider a 70 because of the two-plane break. It drops off the table just as it reaches home plate.
Cole can tell you his two-seamer is coming and you can’t do anything about it. He can throw it in, backdoor it, front door it to a lefty. (May, 2016)
- 2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 50.2% of the time; Sinker 16.6% of the time; Change 5.3%; Slider 17.9%; and Curve 9.9% of the time.
- During 2013 Spring Training, Baseball America rated Cole's fastball at 80, his slider at 70, and his changeup at 50 on the 20-80 scouting scale. His control was a 55 with his command at 50.
2011: Gerrit had some effort in his delivery in high school, but he smoothed down his mechanics at UCLA. He has very rapid arm speed that is quite impressive.
He has a simple, clean and repeatable delivery. But he has spells where he begins flying open with his front shoulder and loses command of his pitches. He also tends to drive too much off his back leg, causing his stiff front leg/foot to land hard and that also affects his ability to put his pitches where he wants. (John Perrotto-Baseball America-11/21/11)
- Gerrit maintains velocity and pitch movement deep into games, but he has inconsistent command and a tendency to run up high pitch counts.
2013: Cole is a real competitor and pitches with a lot of confidence. He maintains his composure on the mound, maintaining a solid demeanor, most of the time.
But other times, when calls don’t go his way, it shows in Cole’s body language
“That doesn’t fly in the big leagues,” Inidianapolis manager Dean Treanor said during the 2013 season. “There’s a maturity that needs to take place, experience-wise and personality-wise.”
- 2013: The case against Gerrit Cole: Opposing managers and scouts worry that Cole’s stuff doesn’t force hitters to speed up and slow down their bats. If you’re facing Cole, you gear up for the fastball and hard slider, while his changeup is hard enough that hitters can sometimes foul it off while looking fastball.
More disconcerting is the fact that hitters seem to catch up to his fastball more often than they should. Scouts said they too often saw bottom-of-the-order hitters square up Cole’s fastball, when logic would say they would simply be blown away by Cole’s 100 mph heat.
Some scouts described it as a function of Cole’s delivery. Hitters see the ball for a long time before his release point. (J.J. Cooper-Baseball America-10/16/12)
Gerrit keeps the ball in the park, allowing very few home runs.
2013: Cole, who made his Major League debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in June 2013, is the first to beat Cy Young winners in his first two starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Cole beat San Francisco's Tim Lincecum in his debut and followed that with a victory over the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke.
June 29, 2013: Gerrit became the first Pirates pitcher in more than a century to win his first four career starts.
September 10, 2013: Cole was the first Pittsburgh rookie in 30 years to not allow a run while striking out at least nine batters. The last to do it was Jose DeLeon, who fanned 13 in a two-hit shutout of the Reds on Aug. 20, 1983.
Gerrit has learned how to control his adrenaline.
"I'velearned there’s a fine line between underthrowing and overthrowing a pitch,” Cole said late in the 2013 season. “With two strikes, I’ve learned to be more patient. The hitters up here fight off a lot more pitches and I’ve learned to wait them out, stay within myself and keep throwing quality pitches instead of trying to amp too much and overthrow.”
2015: Cole won his 30th Major League win in his 53rd start, and the last Pirates pitcher to notch 30 wins as fast was Emil Yde, a left-hander who did it from 1924-25. Nine of Cole's wins have come in 2015, which made him the National League's first nine-game winner and the Majors' second, alongside the Mariners' Hernandez. (Singer - mlb.com - 6/7/15)
Top-of-the-rotation/#1 starting pitchers, even those with ideal measurables, do not enter professional baseball as immediate No. 1 starters. Aces are developed.
Cole’s delivery had to become more efficient. Pirates pitching instructors, including former organizational pitching guru Jim Benedict, began by having Cole imagine he was inside a phone booth-sized box when he began his delivery. It was step one in helping Cole improve balance and arm slot.
“Our guys did a ton of work once he got in the system,” Huntington said. “Benedict started it, and then each of the pitching coaches along the way continued that growth and development.”
In 2015, Gerrit adopted a new shoulder-strengthening regimen. Under his jersey he wore the Zephyr Bioharness, a device that monitors fatigue. He was one of several Pirates to experiment with the ancient Eastern practice of placing suction cups to his back and shoulder to promote quicker healing. (Travis Sawchik - Pittsburgh Tribune Review - Dec., 2015)
- As of the start of the 2017 season, Cole had a career record of 47-30 with a 3.23 ERA, having allowed just 36 home runs and 550 hits in 579 innings. And he'd struck out 8.36 hitters per 9 innings.
- Cole can swing the bat. He can help himself at the plate.
June 4-28, 2014: Cole was on the D.L. with right shoulder fatigue.
July 7-Aug. 20, 2014: The Pirates placed Cole on the disabled list with a tight right lat, following a bout with shoulder fatigue.
2016 Spring Training: Cole had been dealing with inflammation in his right rib since mid-January, at least temporarily setting back his Spring Training progression.Cole said he sustained the injury during his "normal training" this offseason. He was on a slightly modified throwing program, according to head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk.
June 11-July 16, 2016: Cole was on the DL with right triceps muscle strain.
August 29-Sept. 12, 2016: The Pirates placed ace Cole on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation.
Sept 13-Nov 4, 2016: Cole was on the DL with right elbow posterior inflammation. The Pirates decided to shut down the right-hander for the rest of the season and placed him on the 60-day disabled list.