Minor League Notes, April 10, 2012
**Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander and 2011 first-round pick Gerrit Cole made his professional regular-season debut last night for the High-A Bradenton Marauders, pitching four innings against Palm Beach. He walked one, gave up four hits and one run, while fanning seven. He gave up three doubles, but worked himself out of trouble for the most part. Reports indicate his fastball hit 96-97 MPH, showed a lot of life low in the zone, and that both his slider and changeup were effective. Five of his 12 outs were on grounders; the other seven were strikeouts. So far, so good.
**The other big debut last night was Seattle Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker, taking the mound for the Double-A Jackson Generals. He was effective: five innings, four hits, two runs, one walk, with eight strikeouts against the Birmingham Barons. His outing was more fly ball-oriented than Cole's: Walker got two outs on grounders and four on fly balls to go with the whiffs. Walker is two years younger than Cole but pitching at a higher level; the Mariners wanted to keep him out of High Desert, while the Pirates are being conservative with Cole.
**Another good start from a top prospect: Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Tyler Skaggs looked very good last night for Double-A Mobile, throwing six strong innings against Mississippi, giving up one run on five hits, no walks, and seven strikeouts. Reports indicate that he had all three pitches (fastball, curveball, changeup) working well last night and he obviously had no problems with his command.
**One of the big questionmarks for 2012 is Minnesota Twins prospect Alex Wimmers. The 2009 first-rounder fell apart last spring with Steve Blass-like control problems, but righted the ship at the end of the season. He made his 2012 debut yesterday for Double-A New Britain, with mixed results: 4.1 innings, six hits, two runs, two walks, and three strikeouts. Here is an interesting and fairly optimistic in-person report from someone who saw the game.
**Philadelphia Phillies lefty Austin Wright is one of my sleeper prospects for 2012. He got off to promising start last night at High-A Clearwater in the Florida State League, going five innings. He gave up five hits and three runs (two earned) on two walks, but he also fanned seven. He has a low-90s fastball and a solid breaking ball.