Cotton learned to love baseball in unlikely locale

A's No. 14 prospect excited to make MLB debut Wednesay

Cotton learned to love baseball in unlikely locale

OAKLAND -- A's prospect Jharel Cotton has hopped around islands -- and organizations -- and his peculiar journey has finally brought him to Oakland, where he's set to make his big league debut Wednesday in a start against the Angels.

"This is awesome," Cotton said Tuesday. "I'm glad I'm here, I'm excited, just have to go out there and pitch tomorrow and have a good time with my teammates."

Cotton, one of three pitchers the A's acquired in the deal that sent Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to the Dodgers in July, spent the bulk of his adolescence between the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Baseball isn't popular in either territory, but that didn't matter to the right-hander after he was exposed to the sport on a whim as a 7-year-old.

"One afternoon, I was watching TV and my stepdad said, 'Hey, get up and go outside," recalled Cotton, the A's No. 14 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. "I started playing, and after that I've played it my entire life."

As a teenager, Cotton saw an opportunity to be seen on a bigger stage, outside of the Virgin Islands. He moved with his coaches to Virginia and played for Menchville High School, while his family stayed back home.

Cotton's family remains there and won't be able to attend his debut, but the pitcher will have his agents and girlfriend in the stands Wednesday.

He was 3-1 with a 2.82 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Nashville following his trade from the Dodgers.

"I know he's excited about being here and excited about putting on some white shoes," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We're excited about tomorrow and his debut, as is he."

Cotton, who considers himself an aggressive pitcher, boasts a plus-fastball but is better known for his devastating changeup, a pitch he's been fine-tuning for more than 15 years, after a parks-and-recreation coach in Tortola taught him how to throw one.

The right-hander will be the second A's pitcher making his debut this week, following Raul Alcantara, who endured a shaky start to his big league career with a three-inning, five-run outing against the Angels in Monday's series-opening loss.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.