Selected first overall in June, Cole gave up three runs on three hits over 2 1/3 innings for the Mesa Solar Sox in their 16-8 Arizona Fall League loss to the Surprise Saguaros.
"I felt pretty good. It was exciting and I did well," said Cole, who reportedly hit 100 mph with his fastball and the upper 80s with his slider. "I was a little bit nervous during the warmup pitches, but I was OK. I can take a lot of positives from the game as well as some negatives that I have to acknowledge.
"I tried to keep the fastball down, pound the zone and get ahead of hitters, but because I don't know them I had to play it by ear."
The 21-year-old right-hander faced 11 batters and threw 35 of 52 pitches for strikes. He was hoping to pitch deeper into the game, but that plan was revised after 10-pitch at-bats against 2008 top overall pick Tim Beckham (Rays) in the first inning and Kevin Mattison (Marlins) in the third.
"There were a couple long at-bats with lots of foul balls that got my pitch count up, but you just have to keep going and make good pitches," said Cole, a UCLA product who signed with the Pirates minutes before the Aug. 15 deadline and got an $8 million bonus.
"It can be a grind, but you have to go pitch to pitch. I don't know what the plan was for me today, but I was just trying to go as long as I could to give my team a chance to win. Next time, I want to try and be more efficient. I wasn't out of the zone, but I would have liked quicker outs to keep the pressure on them."
Cole tossed a 1-2-3 first inning, then recorded back-to-back strikeouts in the second to work around a leadoff single by Mike Olt (Rangers). In the third, he surrendered a one-out single to Tyler Bortnick (Rays) and walked Mattison before Beckham's two-run double chased the California native.
Beckham, a 2011 Futures Game selection, was no stranger to Cole.
"I remember playing Tim a couple times in high school. It was cool," Cole said. "He was pretty locked in today from what I saw. He had a good day. The pitch to him [in the third] was up a little bit, but I didn't put it where I wanted to. I knew he was going to be aggressive. "
Beckham, who reached Triple-A in August, went 4-for-5 with two triples, two doubles, four RBIs and three runs scored for Surprise. Batting leadoff, Mattison contributed three hits, four RBIs and four runs scored, missing the cycle by a double.
Matt Dominguez, the Marlins' top prospect, was 3-for-6 with a solo homer, two RBIs and two runs scored to help the first-place Saguaros improve to 8-1.
Mesa's Josh Vitters (Cubs) had four hits to raise his average to .405 and Pirates prospect Robbie Grossman reached safely four times and doubled home a run in a losing effort.
Miguel De Los Santos (1-0) picked up his first fall win, despite allowing a pair of unearned runs on one hit and three walks in two innings. The Rangers left-hander also struck out three. Cubs prospect Marcus Hatley (0-2) surrendered four runs on five hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings for the last-place Solar Sox, who fell to 2-8.
Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.