Draft Prospect Q&A: Gerrit Cole

As the 2011 Draft draws closer, MLBTR will be introducing you to a handful of the top eligible prospects with a series of Q&As. The series started with two of the top college pitchers in the nation and continues today with another one.

Gerrit Cole

UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole was one of the top draft prospects in the country before last week, but his performance against Nebraska on Friday sure didn't hurt his stock. Cole pitched nine innings of two-hit, shutout ball, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning and striking out eight.

It's not particularly surprising to see the 6'4" 20-year-old thriving. Baseball America announced earlier in the year that his mid-90s fastball and devastating slider give him "best pure stuff in the [2011] draft" and Cole struck out 153 batters in 123 innings last year, helping the Bruins reach the College World Series finals.

Cole has been a known commodity for years, since the Yankees selected the power pitcher in the first round of the 2008 draft out of high school. He will likely go higher than 28th overall in 2011; ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill and Keith Law suggested last week that Cole is a threat to surpass Anthony Rendon and go first overall this June.

MLBTR chatted with Cole about his most recent outing, turning down the team his family cheers for and having Charlie Sheen show up at his team's practices. Click through to read our conversation:

Ben Nicholson-Smith – We’ll start with the game you had last week. Was that the best you’ve ever felt on a pitching mound?

Gerrit Cole – No. Not really, especially because I had great defense behind me. I felt good, but I’ve felt just as good or better a couple other starts. Things were going our way, we were playing really good defense and when you make a lot of really good defensive plays, you tend to get a lot of quick outs.

BNS – What about your repertoire? Can I get you to break down your different pitches for me?

GC – It’s a traditional three-pitch mix with a fastball, a slider and a change-up. I don’t necessarily go to the slider all of the time. I like to change it up quite a bit, right on right, right on left, it depends. I’ve had good control of both off-speed pitches this year, allowing me to go in and out of the zone with both of them so I’m comfortable throwing all three pitches in really any count. 

BNS – When you were in high school, did you have that confidence in your off-speed pitches, or was it just rear back and throw the heater?

GC – It was definitely more rear back and throw the heater compared to now, but I’d say for a high schooler, I think I mixed pretty well. When you have a pitch that you can get guys out with consistently, your coaches are going to want to call it most of the time and you’re going to want to throw it, so there was really no need to set up guys very much. But I did throw the change-up in high school and I did throw the slider as well. 

BNS – The Yankees liked your stuff well enough to draft you 28th overall. What’s it like when the Yankees are calling and they say they want to sign you, what’s it like to say ‘no’ to the New York Yankees? That’s probably not a feeling that many people experience.

GC – I mean obviously when you get called on draft day, it’s really exciting and it was a tremendous honor to be selected by such a prestigious organization, but I wouldn’t call saying no a joy. That’s the way that my family and I had planned on going – to UCLA. You never want to say ‘no’ or give the impression that I was throwing it in their face or anything like that, because that’s not what it was about.

BNS – It would appear that after last year’s run to the College World Series and this year with the potential the [UCLA] team has, it would seem that that’s a decision that’s gone pretty well. Is that the way you look at it?

GC – I definitely would say that it was probably one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve had an unbelievable experience here. I’ve made a lot of friends and we’ve had our highs and we’ve had our lows and learned a lot. It’s the whole college experience here, being surrounded by a lot of stuff that’s surreal – like when Charlie Sheen shows up to your practice it’s kind of weird –

BNS – Did Charlie Sheen show up to your practice?

GC – Yeah he did a couple weeks ago [Cole said this happened before Sheen’s recent stint in the international spotlight]. We have a lot of big leaguers who stop by the park and take BP, ‘cause it’s L.A. and a lot of people come through here and need a place to hit, so it’s been a pretty surreal experience with all of the surroundings and all of the friends and to have the opportunity to take classes at a school like this. Because I would never have been able to do it without baseball. I wasn’t necessarily your 4.0 [GPA] type of guy in high school, so it’s been exciting to take advantage of an opportunity like this.

BNS – Sorry to go back to this, but what was Charlie Sheen doing? Was he just watching practice or what was he doing?

GC – He just showed up and took BP. He’d been there a couple times before, but recently he showed up about four weeks ago before we started playing.

BNS – Do you look up to any past or present big leaguers and model yourself after them at all?

GC – I really loved watching Roger Clemens pitch when he was in his prime. He was such a bulldog on the mound and I try to replicate that mentality, that aggressiveness the best I can. Obviously without throwing bats at other people. But he was someone that I liked to watch and I like to watch Mariano Rivera because it’s kind of polar opposites when you look at a guy who’s really fired up and really emotional versus a guy who’s consistent and really disciplined and just goes about his work. You try to combine the best of both worlds and see what you get out of that.

BNS – A couple Yankees there – are you a Yankees fan or are these just your players because they’re Hall of Fame caliber guys?

GC – Because they’re Hall of Fame caliber guys, but my dad went to high school in New York and he was a big New York Yankees fan and passed it on down to me when I was growing up, so we’ve been Yankees fans for quite a long time, which kind of made the decision [in 2008] that much tougher.

BNS – Knowing that it’s a few months away, is it hard not to think about the draft? 

GC – If anybody tells you that they aren’t looking ahead to June, they’d be lying. You really have to take it day by day and focus on what’s most important at that time, which would be what’s going on that week or what’s going on that practice. You just take it slow, because it’s a long process and it’s easy to get caught up in. Fortunately for me, I’ve already done it before. You can never really prepare yourself for the unexpected, but you kind of have an idea of how the process goes and it makes things a lot easier. You have a better understanding of what’s going to happen, so you can really slow things down and not really get yourself caught up in what’s about to happen.

Photo courtesy UCLA Athletics.

44 Responses to Draft Prospect Q&A: Gerrit Cole Leave a Reply

  1. YankeePhan1234 4 years ago

    This makes me think of a possible AA rotation if they had signed Cole, imagine on 3 days in a row you could see Betances, Banuelos, and Cole. Ah what could have been :(

    • I don’t see Betances staying in the rotation though. Granted, he’s young but pitchers are difficult to project (DVD, Generation K, etc.) and his control needs to improve before he can be considered a lock-down rotation candidate.

      • LifeLongYankeeFan 4 years ago

        I hear that Banuelos is supposed to be a stud though.

        • I heard that too. But he’s still much to young to hail as the next coming of (insert name here).

          Trust me. I’m an O’s fan – see Tillman, Chris.

          • LifeLongYankeeFan 4 years ago

            Yeah I know its just exciting to have a potential top of the line starter in your minor league system. Especially being a Yankee fan because we usually sign a lot of our players so it’s rarer for us then a smaller market team. I guess the thing that might concern me down the road is his smaller stature. Take Pedro Martinez for example and Johan Santana who’s battling some health issues. Great pitchers but when they reached their early 30s some problems started popping up.

    • now imagine if mike montgomery, john lamb, danny duffy and chris dwyer were all in the same rotation

      oh wait…

      • muskyfish 4 years ago

        I’ll take Teheran, Vizcaino, Delgado, and Minor over the KC crew.

  2. $1519287 4 years ago

    That would be a shutdown rotation, no question.

  3. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    Considering he was raised a Yankee fan it takes a lot of will to turn down 1st round bonus money from your favorite team

    • $1519287 4 years ago

      Probably would have been a lot easier to turn it down from a team like the Red Sox or Jays, for sure.

    • YankeePhan1234 4 years ago

      Eh, some people value Education, I can’t blame him, anyone know what year he is? Cause I might be a bit chapped if he isn’t graduating >:(

      • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

        He was drafted out of HS in 2008 so my guess is he is in his JR year.

      • LordD99 4 years ago

        While education might have played into the decision, I do remember reading an article about how Cole’s father, working with Boras, studied pitchers drafted out of high school, and how much more money they made if they then went off to college and re-entered the draft several years later. There was a significant difference in money, and that apparently influenced the decision to wait.

      • If I remember correctly from a couple of his interviews I’ve heard and read, it wasn’t for the college education but for the college experience.

  4. wickedkevin 4 years ago

    I think it’s good to see MLBTR becoming more active with prospects

    • Can we get interviews with Springer, Barnes and Esposito please? I played with all three back when I was younger and would love to read something on each of them.

  5. yankswin28 4 years ago

    He’ll be playing with the Yankees in the future, along with other giant Yankees fan superstars to be in Bryce Harper, Dellin Betances, and Manny Banuelos.

    :) Can’t wait.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      Bryce Harper? get real..

      not to mention Cole won’t fall that far down to the Yankees this time around

    • ultimate913 4 years ago

      As a Yankee fan: boooooooooooooooooooooooo. Not gonna lie though. I am excited for Banuelos.

  6. Bob9988 4 years ago

    Too bad for you guys that he’s coming to Seattle.


    Now, if we could just learn to hit…

    • Smrtbusnisman04 4 years ago

      Nahhh, I think Pittsburgh will take him. He need go pitching in our farm system.

      • muskyfish 4 years ago

        I still like Purke better if the Bucs pass on Rendon… which I think they should…. I think they would have a better chance at the desired return if they put a more finesse guy with the young power arms they are already trying to develop in Taillon, Heredia, and Allie.

  7. Tisha Waters 4 years ago

    what a jerk he is to listen to Boras. How can you turn down the Yankees when you grew up a Yankee fan and always dreamed of being a Yankee? Oh , wait , 5 million signing bonus is peanuts when your Daddy is named in Forbes magazine as one of the richest billionaires in America.

    • mwagner26 4 years ago

      What this is, I don’t even….

      • I went through the list of all 385 billionaires listed on Forbes and didn’t see Mark Cole on their anywhere. Confused….

  8. GGeazy 4 years ago

    As a Pirate fan I would love to draft either Purke or Cole, but the Pirates desperately need an impact hitter for their system. Rendon would be fast-tracked through the minors and be up in the major leagues ready to produce. Not a bad major league roster in a few years with Rendon, Alvarez, Walker, Tabata, Sanchez, McCutchen, Lambo and hopefully a few others begin to pan out.
    The Pirates have spent a lot on amateur pitching via draft and international signings, so its definitely time for a big time hitter

  9. YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

    I think the Pirates would be dumb to pass on Cole. The toughest thing for small market teams to acquire outside of the draft are high end power arms. Besides isn’t Alvarez a 3B?

    • RobMor 4 years ago

      Pedro will just be switched over to 1B if Rendon is drafted, not a big deal. Anthony Rendon has a chance to be special over at 3B, hitting and defense included.

      • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

        Yeah but a small market team shouldn’t pass on a potential power ace for a corner IF’er. EVER.

    • pirateswillwinin2013 4 years ago

      Jameson Taillon , Gerrit Cole, Stetson Allie…talk about nasty

  10. Seems to have a pretty good make-up going by that interview.

  11. LordD99 4 years ago

    Hmmm, not sure he’ll go as the number-one pick in the draft, even if the consensus is that he’s the #1. This is a deep draft but there is no clear #1 (like a Strasburg or Harper the last two years), and since Cole is represented by Boras and already took a risk and turned down a lot of money three years ago, I can see the Pirates or the Mariners passing and going for the next best guy, especially if the gap in talent isn’t that large and it’s believed that guy will be a little easier to sign.

    • eYeDEF 4 years ago

       Rendon’s also represented by Boras so no chance of that. Any aspiring high draft pick is often locked up by Boras. I wonder why.

  12. Really wish the Yanks coulda locked this guy down. Oh well, hope he has fun being irrelevant in the Pirates system.

  13. Fool…….he could’ve been playing for the Yankees in a billion dollar stadium

    Now he can take his extra 2 million dollar signing bonus and spend the next 6 years toiling away in the Pirates/Nationals system

    Good job dude

    • muskyfish 4 years ago

      in a sport where a tweak can lead to the end of a career, that raised signing bonus and an education from a well thought of institution is one hell of an insurance policy. PS, though obviously a very well respected organization, life does not begin and end with the Yankees….. sorry to inform you otherwise.

  14. Purke turned down $5 million from the Rangers. MLB was financing the Rangers at the time, and the Rangers were unable to pay the $7m Purke asked for.
    I don’t see Purke’s demand going down, and there’s no telling what Cole will ask for??

  15. i see cole as a true number one a lot like cole hammels and he will be drafted by the pirates in hopes that they can sign him to add to there young studs and if they cant they nope the worst thing that can happen is getting the 2nd garenteed overal pick next year but i hope somehow he falls to number 9 to the cubs because of money issues

    • Mariners have NO money issues they can sign Fielder and Cole next year and still be fine, no way he falls passed number 3!

  16. probably right but wishful thinking

  17. mwagner26 4 years ago

    I hope so. Even though we have Felix and Pineda, Cole would be a much welcomed addition.

  18. muskyfish 4 years ago

    Much like I think the Pirates should do if they choose not to go with Rendon, if Purke is their I think he makes more sense as a perfect sandwich guy to the right-handed flame-throwers.

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