14 May 2011

2011 Depot Draft Preview - Finding 1:4 (Gerrit Cole)

We continue our annual look at amateur talents the Baltimore Orioles could (should) be targeting in the 1st Round and beyond. Over the next two weeks we will bear down on the eight potential 1st Round targets listed below, followed by a week dedicated to the 2nd - 5th Rounds and finally the 6th - 10th Rounds. As a reminder, the draft coverage here will focus on Baltimore. More in-depth coverage, including rankings, scouting reports, videos and more can be found over at http://www.diamondscapescouting.com/.

Potential targets at 1:4

Anthony Rendon / 3b / Rice Univ.
Gerrit Cole / rhp / UCLA
Bubba Starling / of/rhp / Gardner Edgerton HS (Gardner, Kan.)
Sonny Gray / rhp / Vanderbilt Univ.
Danny Hultzen / lhp / Univ. of Virginia
Dylan Bundy / rhp / Owasso HS (Owasso, Okla.)
Taylor Jungmann / rhp / Univ. of Texas
Jed Bradley / lhp / Georgia Tech

*Every player discussed in the Depot Draft Preview has been scouted by Nick J. Faleris, either through his efforts at DiamondScape Scouting or as part of his duties as an Associate Scout in the Midwest Region for a National League organization.

Gerrit Cole (rhp, Univ. of California - Los Angeles)
Ht/Wt: 6-4/225
B/T: R/R
Year: Junior
Age at Draft: 20y9m
Games Scouted: 2 (in person); 6 (video)

Grades - Now (Future):
Motion: 50 (50)
Fastball: 65/70 (75/80)
Slider: 55/60 (70)
Cutter: 50 (60)
Change-up: 55/60 (65/70)
Control: 50 (60)
Command: 45/50 (55/60)
Feel: 45/50 (60)
Overall Future Potential: 62/63

*Notes on Grades: The Scouting Scale works from 20-80, with 50 being Major League Average. The scale operates loosely on a bell curve, so the further you move from 50 the fewer grades you'll find among ML players (e.g. Aroldis Chapman's fastball, Ichiro Suzuki's arm strength, Adam Dunn's power and Albert Pujols' hit tool would all be 80 grade). A 60 grade is sometimes referred to as plus and a 70 grade is sometimes referred to as plus-plus.

Physical Description:
Big, thick and strong throughout. Well proportioned build and distribution allows for solid body control. Moves well enough on and off the mound.

Cole has a simple, repeatable delivery with a clean arm action and solid tempo throughout. He throws from a low three-quarters slot that suits his repertoire, and while there is effort (there is bound to be when sitting mid- to upper-90s with your fastball), it works with his motion, minimizing stress in the shoulder/arm during his forward action and softening his recoil. Just as important, Cole is able to maintain solid command and repeatability in spite of reaching back and letting it fly. As compared to his freshman year, Cole has all but removed his tendencies to dip his back shoulder as he enters his arm circle and is much more consistently out and over his front leg as his arm is accelerating towards home -- both adjustments playing a role in his improved command.

Fastball - True "80" offering, with upper-90s velocity at peak, life and ability to maintain to the late innings. Swing and miss pitch off pure stuff alone, but precision has improved through two-plus years at UCLA and with Team USA. Will sit 94-96 mph and bump 98/99 mph. 4-seam and 2-seam are mixed, with his 2-seam coming with excellent boring action and sitting 93-95 mph and his 4-seam 96-98.

Slider - Cole's slider is a swing-and-miss breaker generally in the 86-88 mph range. He hits the same slot and release as his fastball, giving him deception in pitch plane.

Cutter - The cutter essentially acts as a harder slider, showing tighter, later break but less depth. He is 88-89 with the offering, and has broken 90 mph without losing the late life. This pitch bleeds into his slider and could probably be folded into it at the next level.

Change-up - Cole has made big strides with his change-up, flashing plus this spring. The biggest advancement has been in his ability to maintain his arm speed, which now offers solid deception. Additionally, with the improved arm speed has come a little more late tumble and a whole bunch of empty swings from opposing hitters.

Cole has everything you want in a potential ace -- big, durable build, loud stuff that includes three plus or better pitches, an aggressive but under control demeanor on the mound and a desire and ability to attack hitters with his arsenal. While he has not racked-up the strikeouts this spring to the staggering extent of his rotation mate Trevor Bauer, Cole has shown legit ML "power stuff", better overall command in the zone and a less troubling, cleaner delivery. The Friday starter should be in the discussion for #1 overall, and is still the top arm in the draft two plus months in. Coming out of high school there were some make-up concerns floating around, as well as mechanics to clean-up, consistency issues with his secondaries and spotty control. He has addressed each and every one of these issues and has put himself in a position to follow in the footsteps of David Price (Tampa Bay Rays) and Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals) as a quick-to-rise Major League front-end starter.

Projected position: #1 starter on 1st division team; perennial all-star candidate
Suggested draft slot: Top five overall


This scouting report originally published by the author here.

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