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June 28, 2013

Raising Aces

A Look at Rooks Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler

by Doug Thorburn


Two of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues made their debuts this month, simultaneously relinquishing their prospect status while announcing their presence to the National League. Let's take a look at the opening acts of Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler, a pair of high-end draft picks who share a number of traits on the mound.

Gerrit Cole
Cole entered the season as the highest-rated pitching prospect in all the land, ranking no. 3 on the Baseball Prospectus top 101 prospects list and trailing only position players Jurickson Profar and Oscar Taveras. The lofty perch was par for the course for the right-hander, who was selected with the top pick in the historic pitcher draft of 2011.

2013 Stats

IP

ERA

WHIP

K %

BB %

H%

HR%

AAA

68.0

2.91

1.06

17.5%

10.4%

16.4%

1.5%

Majors

18.3

3.44

1.04

10.8%

1.4%

24.3%

1.4%

The component stats fail to impress, and the K rate in particular falls short of the standard for an elite starting pitcher. Cole struck out just 6.2 batters per nine innings at Indianapolis this season, and his MLB strikeout rate is downright Guthrian, yet he continues to keep runs off the scoreboard. Despite his modest bat-missing skills, Cole has consistently demonstrated an ability to induce weak contact, with low hit rates and a stinginess toward homers throughout his professional tenure. He has walked just a single batter in his first 18 frames of big-league ball, though his average of 3.3 free passes per nine over 200 minor-league innings is a potential harbinger of regression.

The right-hander made headlines with his triple-digit heat in last Friday's start versus the Angels, cranking up the gas to 100 mph on seven different pitches—Matt Harvey is the only other starter to crack 100 mph this season, and he’s done it just once. Yet the end result of those pitches was three fouls, three pitches taken for a ball, a called strike on 0-0, and a groundout. The most impressive aspect of those offerings may have been the fact that they had movement in addition to heat, with some pitches featuring pronation that earned sinker labels from Brooks Baseball.

Pitch Statistics as coded by PITCH INFO

Pitch Type

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Related Content:  Pitching,  Gerrit Cole,  Mechanics,  Zack Wheeler

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: The Be... (06/28)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Raising Aces: The Cain... (06/21)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Raising Aces: Stuffing... (07/03)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Manufactured Runs: The... (06/28)

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