Lofty expectations followed Cole from young age

Pirates right-hander rose from California roots to highly regarded prospect

Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates
Hometown: Newport Beach, Calif.

Gerrit Cole captured the attention of national scouts at a young age as a hard-throwing righty, and he was touted as one of the top prospects in the country.

Cole was a first-round pick of the New York Yankees -- the team he grew up cheering for -- out of Orange Lutheran High School in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, but he opted instead of play collegiate ball for nearby UCLA. For the Bruins, Cole honed his craft, and he started drawing comparisons to a fellow Southern California power arm in Stephen Strasburg.

Cole and Strasburg shared another commonality when Cole also became a No. 1 overall pick, as the Bucs took him three years after he turned down the Yanks.

The 24-year-old got to pitch professionally near his hometown for the first time this season, making starts in both Petco Park and Dodger Stadium. After Cole's start against the Dodgers, he said he listened to the broadcast by Vin Scully.

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.