Over the next couple of days Swingin’ A’s will take a closer look at some of the prospects the Athletics scored in the Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Andrew Bailey trades. We’ll start by looking at the prized jewel of the Gio Gonzalez trade, right-handed starter A.J. Cole.
The recent trade that sent Gio Gonzalez to the Washington Nationals in exchange for a slew of talented prospects is just one example of how the Oakland Athletics are embracing yet another massive rebuild.
The A’s, in an attempt to get younger, sent their All-Star left-hander to the Nationals and landed a few young players who could ultimately help the green-and-gold in a few years from now.
One of the players with a world of potential the A’s scored in the Gonzalez trade is right-hander A.J. Cole. The 6’4″, 180 pound righty was the prized jewel, in my mind, for Oakland in the deal that sent Gonzalez to Washington.
At 19 years old, Cole is still very young with a long road still ahead of him before he reaches the majors, but the A’s definitely like what he brings to the table. He’s an athletic and lean pitching machine, who boasts a fastball reaches the mid-90’s and pretty solid control for a 19-year old.
His fastball is one of his strengths, but he’s also got a solid curveball with a nice downward break. He’ll use the curve against righties and lefties, suggesting that his curve is much more than a chase-pitch. He’s seemingly got a good feel for the pitch and with a little more seasoning in the minors, he’ll only get better.
Cole does have a change-up, but it’s not as effective as his fastball or curve yet. He’s shown a good-feel for the change-up, but he’ll need a little more polishing in the minors before he transcends from the fastball-curveball pitcher he currently is.
The former fourth-round draft pick from 2010, Cole started the 2011 season in extended spring training, but eventually reached Hagerstown in May. With Washington’s minor league affiliate, the young righty put up so-so numbers. He went 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA.
On the plus side, Cole did average 10+ strikeouts per nine innings with a total of 108 strikeouts over 89.0 innings pitched. Also according to FanGraphs.com, Cole posted a gaudy 2.53 FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching) in 2011. The potential to be a front-end starter is definitely there with Cole.
Overall, Cole brings a fastball, curveball, and a change-up to the table. He’s got solid command and slick mechanics for his age. He’s got the potential to be a front-end starter for the A’s in a few years, but as you may have already surmised by Cole’s age, he’s still a long ways away from joining the big league team.