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Pirates hope Cole can start his rise in Arizona Fall League

The Sports Xchange
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The Pirates appear to be moving quickly with pitcher Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft, but that might be deceiving.

Management announced this week that Cole, the 6-foot-4 former standout at UCLA, will be assigned to the Arizona Fall League.

Coming so soon after his signing, it follows the pattern set in recent years by two elite Washington prospects, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, both of whom rocketed through the Nationals' system.

But listen to the Pirates, and it's clear their leaning is toward a patient path.

"Gerrit can show us where he is and what he's able to accomplish," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Not from a numbers standpoint but from the consistency of his mechanics and where he is stuff-wise. In such a small number of innings, the ERA is not indicative; it's the quality of delivery."

Strasburg and Harper both started out in Class AA. The internal leaning for the Pirates is to have Cole in Class A, as they did with another pitcher, Jameson Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick the previous year.

In the meantime, the Pirates hope that Cole will be pushed in the prospect-rich AFL.

"We need to see him deal with some failure," Huntington said. "We hope he gets challenged out there. It will be a good thing for him. We'll see how he handles it, keeps his emotions in check and trusts his stuff."

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Cole also has a chance to participate in the early portion of major league spring training next year, if only to get a taste.

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