The Lehigh Valley Ironpigs had a taste of the Indianapolis Indians last week and came away with 3 losses and just 1 win. The month of April came to an end with Indianapolis as the only team in the International League to reach the 20 win mark. Their 20-7 record tops the Durham Bulls, leaders of the South Division with an 18-8 record and the North leading Buffalo Bisons at 17-7.
But if you think the Ironpigs saw the best that the Indianapolis Indians have to offer, you have another thing coming because on Friday night the Indians will be dishing out 240 pounds of Cole at Coca-Cola Park. In the June, 2011 Major League player draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates had the first pick and selected 6’4″ 240 pound right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole from UCLA. Cole almost went unsigned but just 15 minutes before the August 15, 2011 signing deadline, an $8 million bonus was enough to get him to put his name on a Pirates contract.
While at UCLA, Cole combined with current Cleveland prospect Trevor Bauer to form the best 1-2 pitching combination in college baseball. In 2010 Cole was 11-4 at UCLA while Bauer was 12-3 leading UCLA to a 51-17 record, best in school history. After Cole was selected number 1 in the 2011 draft, Trevor Bauer was selected two picks later. Bauer has already pitched in the majors, starting 4 games with Arizona in 2012. He was then involved in a big off-season trade that brought him to Cleveland where he just made his 2nd start of 2013, beating the Phillies Wednesday night. Meanwhile, Gerrit Cole is still waiting to make his big league debut.
Because of the late signing in 2011, Gerrit Cole didn’t make his minor league debut until the 2011 Arizona Fall League and then he began 2012 at Class A Bradenton where he went 5-1 2.55 before being promoted to AA Altoona in the Eastern League. He went 3-6 2.90 in AA and finished the 2012 season with 1 start in Indianapolis. He has made 5 starts with Indianapolis in 2012 and is currently 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA, but he has walked 15 in 23.1 innings which is a bit surprising because last year he walked just 45 in 132 innings. The scouting reports say he has a fastball that can reach 98 mph which goes well with a good hard slider. His curveball and changeup aren’t quite in the same category as his power pitches but they are improving. Besides being the number 1 prospect in the Pirates organization, he is also rated the 9th best prospect in all of baseball according to mlb.com and 7th best by Baseball America. If he continues to pitch well it won’t be long until he makes his first start with the Pirates, but, on Friday night he’ll be matched up against Tyler Cloyd in the Lehigh Valley. He’ll become the first pitcher who was selected first in the MLB Draft to start a game at Coca-Cola Park since Kris Benson pitched for the Ironpigs in 2008 and Bryan Bullington started a game for the Buffalo Bisons on August 11, 2008, coincidentally against Benson. Cole, Benson and Bullington were all drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Game 1 of the 4 game series on Thursday with the Indianapolis Indians is Dance Team Night and the game begins at 7:05. Fireworks will follow the 7:05 game on Friday night while the 6:35 game on Saturday is Hispanic Heritage Night in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. The first 3,000 adults 21 and older will receive a free Ironpigs Margarita glass courtesy of Metro PCS. The series finale on Sunday is at 1:35 and the first 3,000 adults 18 and older will receive an Ironpigs baseball cap courtesy of the National MS Society. It looks like it’s going to be a nice spring weekend so come out and cheer for the Ironpigs.