The Pittsburgh Pirates' top prospect, right-hander Gerrit Cole, made his professional debut on Friday in Mesa, his first appearance (other than instructional league) since the Pirates took him with the first overall pick in this year's Rule 4 draft. Cole, who was UCLA's Friday night starter all spring but was overshadowed by teammate Trevor Bauer in performance, brought his best fastball and flashed the good changeup that will be his out pitch going forward.
Cole hit 100 mph twice in his outing and sat mostly at 95-98, throwing four-seamers but not the two-seamer that he underused in college as well, and showed more life on the four-seamer than I saw in either start from him this spring. His slider was hard at 89-90 and didn't have consistent tilt, but the changeup at 87-88 was plus, his weapon of choice when ahead of left-handed hitters -- although it should be effective against right-handers as well. Cole's day ended when Tim Beckham, who had a solid at-bat in the first inning, jumped on a first-pitch fastball in the third for a double.