After leaving his last start after just 14 pitches, many feared that Pittsburgh Pirates SP Wandy Rodriguez would need an extended stint on the disabled list. It looks as though Rodriguez will avoid a stint on the 15-day disabled list, but he will not throw until June 13. According to Michael Sanserino, the Pirates are considering “internal options” for Tuesday’s start, and it looks as though they will start top prospect Gerrit Cole.
Cole has been inconsistent in the minor leagues, but obviously has a huge pedigree. The scouting report on Cole is rather simple. He has plus-plus stuff with a strong fastball and slider, but he has struggled to consistently challenge hitters and throw strikes. Cole has just a 6.22 K/9 rate in Triple-A this year in 68 innings.
It is unclear what the Pirates’ intentions are with Cole. They could keep him in the majors, as they do not currently have or need a fifth starter. However, he is pitching in Rodriguez’s spot Tuesday, so they could conceivably just demote him after the start. This decision is likely predetermined, not contingent on the way he performs in his start Tuesday.
If the Pirates’ coaches get Cole to throw enough strikes, he has major league stuff. We have seen prospects like Trevor Bauer come to the majors and fail to throw enough strikes to sustain success. Whether Cole knows it or not, he has the potential to succeed in the majors if he sufficiently challenges a hitter. Regardless of the length of Cole’s stay in the major leagues, Pirate fans will and should be intrigued and ecstatic that their No. 1 prospect will finally reach the senior circuit.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.