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Gerrit Cole to make double-A debut

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Gerrit Cole, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first-overall pick in 2011 amateur draft, is scheduled to be promoted to Double-A Altoona on Wednesday, June 20 and make his Double-A debut when the Curve take on the New Britain Rock Cats.

Cole, who was the first player ever selected with the first overall pick out of the University of California-Los Angeles, began his career in the Pirates organization last season in the Arizona Fall League and made five starts for the Mesa Solar Sox. 

The hard-throwing right-hander went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in those five outings and earned a spot in the AFL Rising Stars game where he got the starting nod.  Cole finished his time in the Fall League holding opponents to a .179 batting average against and averaged better than a strikeout per inning (16 strikeouts in 15.0 IP) while walking just four.

The 22-year-old then entered the 2012 campaign ranked as the Pirates’ top overall prospect according to Baseball America and was also rated as having the best slider and the best fastball of any prospect in the Pirates’ minor league system. 

Cole’s 2012 campaign began with the High-A Bradenton Marauders, where he went 5-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 13 starts spanning 67.0 innings.  The righty struck out 69 batters in his 67 innings of work while limiting opponents to a .217 batting average against in his time in the Florida State League.  His efforts earned him a selection to the FSL All-Star Game.

At the time of his promotion to Altoona, Cole ranked among the league leaders in terms of ERA (2.55), WHIP (1.10), batting average against (.217), batting average against for a starter (.217), most strikeouts per 9 IP for a starter (9.27) and fewest baserunners per 9 IP for a starter (10.34).  In his most recent start for Bradenton last night, Cole shut out the Fort Myers Miracle over five innings and struck out seven to earn his fifth win of the season

Neil Walker’s contract expires after the 2016 season. The Pirates second baseman is due for a big raise in arbitration this offseason—likely to $10 million—and signing him to a long-term extension will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $12-$15 million annually.
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