UCLA's Savage wins praise from Pirates exec for Cole

College coaches don't always win praise from major-league scouts and coaches. In fact, I'd almost go as far to say college coaches rarely win praise from major-league people, who complain about overuse and sometimes about poor coaching.

So the text message I got Wednesday about UCLA's John Savage seemed especially meaningful.

"Just so you know, John Savage made the [Gerrit] Cole transition seamless," wrote Jim Benedict, the Pirates special assistant (and pitching guru) who has worked closely with Cole since the Pirates drafted him. "It made it much easier to help him in the transition to pro ball."

Cole spent three years pitching for Savage at UCLA, after turning down the Yankees when they picked him in the first round (28th overall) in the 2008 draft. The Pirates drafted him first overall three years later, and Cole debuted in the major leagues this month.

The 22-year-old right-hander has won each of his first three big-league starts, with a 3.44 ERA.

"Gerrit's a great kid," Benedict said. "His parents did a great job with him, too. Believe me, I know when parents don't."

Savage's UCLA team won its first College World Series on Tuesday night.

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