The Pirates' 2011 No. 1 overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft, Gerrit Cole, made his debut for the parent club on Tuesday. He faced the World Series champion San Francisco Giants and held them in check for 6 1/3 very efficient and economical innings.
Cole was in total control on the mound. From the first inning until his departure following a couple hits surrendered in the seventh, the Pirates' top prospect (and No. 8 on MLB.com's Top 100 list) used a blazing fastball that touched 97 mph and a very deceptive slider as his primary pitches.
Striking out two and walking none, Cole used the entire plate to his advantage, changing the eye levels of opposing hitters. He kept the Giants off balance and challenged hitters with a steady diet of strikes. He skillfully avoided the center of the plate. Few balls were hit hard.
Cole used exceptionally good pitching mechanics. He repeated a clean, very efficient delivery without wasting motion. The ball was very difficult to see coming out of his hand.
It looked as if Cole barely broke a sweat in a performance that was even keeled throughout. He was never in trouble.
And, oh, by the way, he drove in two runs with a huge base hit.
Cole, ranked No. 4 among baseball's Top 10 right-handed pitching prospects, pounded the strike zone with his two signature fastballs; a four-seamer and a sinking two-seamer with great life on both.
This was just the beginning. Get used to hearing the name Gerrit Cole among the rising stars of exciting baseball prospects.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter.