2011 No. 1 pick Gerrit Cole expected to debut for Pirates on Tuesday
Coming into the 2013 season, Cole was ranked the #9 prospect in baseball by MLB.com, and was ranked #7 by Baseball America. He already throws a lethal fastball, which he easily sends to the plate at 98 mph. The slider, with which he generates many of his strikeouts, is his second option. His curveball and changeup are not on the same level as the previous two pitches, but both have above average potential.
Control is the biggest concern with Cole, though he has only walked 28 batters through 68.0 innings so far this season in Triple-A.
Cole was spectacular in his first season in the minors, registering a 2.80 ERA over 26 starts at three different levels. He struck out 136 batters in 132.0 innings in 2012. His ERA sits at 2.91 so far this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, and his strikeout rate is down (47 in 68.0 innings). However, his WHIP has dropped significantly (1.20 to 1.06), which is encouraging given his control concerns.
As long as Cole pitches well (which he probably will), the Pirates will likely find a way to keep him at the Major League level. By bringing him up in mid-June, the Pirates will avoid Super Two status with Cole, which will push back his arbitration eligibility.
Cole's first start will most likely be against the San Francisco Giants, who currently rank 15th in runs scored in the MLB. Cole should be picked up in all fantasy leagues in which he is available.