BBDP Nickname: JoCo
Name: Jordan Cote
Draft: 2011 3rd round pick out of Northfield, NH
Size: 6-foot-5, 215-pounds
Fastball: 92 mph
Other Pitchers: Fastball, Slider, Changeup
BBDP Ranking: 39
When Jordan Cote was signed in the third round in the 2011 draft, the Yankees saw him as a long term project. At the time, he was sitting anywhere between 88-93 mph depending on who you asked and what time of year it was. His secondary stuff was fringy. He was considered a “blank slate” by scouts who could be groomed however a drafting organization wanted to groom him. At his size, 6-foot-5 and 215-pounds, you could certainly dream on his potential.
Two years and two dominant statistical seasons later, and Cote has improved his game quite a bit but he still has a long way to go.
In high school Cote was unstoppable but his statistics didn’t mean much coming from an area where there wasn’t much competition. He actually threw a no-hitter while still in high school. But it wasn’t his stats that scouts were looking at, it was his size and potential.
His first season playing for the Yankees was 2012. He was placed in the GCL, where he performed really well statistically. He had a 0.98 ERA in 27.2 innings with 25 strikeouts and just four walks. Despite that season neither he nor the Yankees wanted him to move up to Staten Island. They both knew he was leaving the ball up far too much and showing too much inconsistency with his secondary offerings.
In 2013 that changed. He was able to keep the ball down much better, and he ditched his curve all for a slider. He fine-tuned his change which became a legitimate strike out weapon for him. Statistically not much changed. He threw 28.0 innings and had a 0.96 ERA while striking out 20 and walking just 5. His WHIP did improve from 0.904 to 0.821 though. More importantly than the stats, however, is that he improved his secondary offerings.
Cote is a classic case of why statistics are not always the most important thing, especially in the lower minors. While his performance has been great, his stuff needed improvement. He has come a long way since being drafted though, and now possesses a solid arsenal which he will bring with him to higher levels.
His fastball has not progressed so far as the Yankees had hoped. He basically has the same velocity as when he first came to the Yankees. That said he has only just begun to be able to repeat his new mechanics. There is reason to believe that as he physically matures and continues to get better at repeating his mechanics, his velocity should spike. With long term projects from cold climates the rules are different, and two years of work is not going to bring you close to the finished product. He still sits 89-92 with the fastball as of now, but where the real improvement has come is his secondary offerings.
Cote ditched the curveball for a slider in 2013. He was much more consistent with the slider and continues to work on sharpening and tightening it up. He has also always had a solid change that he will continue to use as he progresses. He’s got the three pitches he needs to succeed as a starter, he just needs to continue to fine-tune them.
Jordan Cote’s ceiling is still vast. At his size, with his arm strength there is no reason why he shouldn’t be hitting the mid to upper 90′s later in his career. That said one cannot say with any certainty that this will be the case. He has a lot of work to do and still needs to work on his secondary stuff. At this point one would have to place his ceiling as a back end starter. If the stuff improves like it should his ceiling could soar as high as any prospect in this system. His floor, given that his projection still has some uncertainty, would be to flop as soon as next season. Given the positive strides he has made and how good his performance has been, however, I would have to say that this seems unlikely at this point.
Cote will likely start the 2014 season in Staten Island, unless his stuff progresses significantly between now and extended spring training, which is entirely possible. 2014 will be a big year for Cote. In his third year since being drafted, we should start to see some real progress. He has always been a long term project, but we are now reaching the point where that long term is going to soon become now. As long as he continues to work hard at his craft this should be a big year for him, and could be one where he begins to turn some heads.
Next up: 2014 breakout candidate: Cito Culver