Think the Yankees could use a little more strength in the middle of the bullpen or a better spot-starter than Chad Gaudin? Not many people remember the Yanks’ first-round draft pick in the 2008 June Amateur Draft. Well, that’s because he didn’t sign.
The Yankees took 6-4, 220 pound right hander Gerrit Cole with the 28th overall pick in the 2008 draft. The Yankees (and baseball) thought Cole would sign for sure while being represented by Scott Boras. He was rated the 17th best high school prospect by Baseball America and grew up a Yankee fan in California. However, Cole decided that no matter how much the Yankees offered, he would attend college at UCLA.
Cole was clocked at 98 mph in high school. As a freshman at UCLA, Cole went 4-8 with a 3.49 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 85 innings. However, Cole turned his college career around this season, posting an 11-3 record after a win on Monday night at the College World Series against the TCU Horned Frogs. I flipped back and forth as the Yanks were getting demolished by Rodrigo Lopez and the D’Backs, watching Cole consistently hit between 95 and 97 with his fastball and mix in a filthy 88 mph slider to strike out 13 and induce pop up after pop up. He’s also allowed five hits or less in 13 of his last 18 starts in the competitive Pac-10.
So how does this effect the 2010 Yankees? As you look back to the first round of 2008, players from the draft are being called up to the majors each day. Pedro Alvarez, Buster Posey, Brian Matusz, Gordon Beckham, Justin Smoak, Ike Davis, Justin Fields, Ryan Perry, Daniel Schlereth and Conor Gillaspie have all seen their MLB debuts already. There’s always the “what if?” factor in baseball. Well, what if Gerrit Cole had signed with the Yankees? What if the Yankees had found assurance in Cole and given up on Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes? Or what if they kept all three and had one of the most promising young pitching staffs around? You can only wonder where the Yankees would be in 2010 if Cole had signed and developed. The Yankees selected outfielder Slade Heathcott in the first round of the 2009 draft as the supplemental pick. He is currently at Class-A Charleston.
Until 2011 when Gerrit Cole is eligible for the draft again, we can only wonder what could have been. Don’t be surprised to see him in a Baltimore Oriole jersey somewhere down the road.