Gerrit Cole's formal professional debut on Monday night reaffirmed his status as one of the Pirates' top prospects, while dramatizing why the club has such high hopes for its No. 1 Draft pick.
In his first pro appearance outside of the Arizona Fall League, Cole, the Pirates' No. 2 prospect and MLB.com's No. 11 prospect, started for the high Class A Bradenton Marauders at Palm Beach and featured a 97-mph fastball while striking out seven and allowing one hit in four innings.
Cole, the No. 1 choice in last June's First-Year Player Draft, allowed one run and issued one walk.
Concurrent with Cole's outing in the Florida State League, Charlie Morton was making a rehab start for Triple-A Indianapolis in Columbus and was equally brilliant.
Morton struck out eight in 7 2/3 innings facing a lineup that included several Major League veterans, including former Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche and outfielder Ryan Spilborghs.
Morton, on target to join the Pirates rotation for a start this weekend in San Francisco, gave up six hits and a walk while being charged with one run.
Ironically, the starts of both Cole and Morton ended in walk-off defeats. The Clippers scored three in the ninth to stun the Indians, 7-6, while Bradenton lost 2-1 on a homer with two outs in ninth by Nicholas Longmire.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.