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Jharel Cotton: What happens next?

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Since being promoted for the September stretch run, Oakland Athletics rookie Jharel Cotton has made four starts and pitched well every time. Through 25 innings he has a 1.44 ERA and a 16/3 K/BB. We profiled Cotton back in early September when he was first promoted, and as noted at the time he's been on my sleeper radar for a few years. He's certainly not a sleeper right now; he's been excellent  in the early going and his reputation is growing.

A reader recently asked me if Cotton could end up on the Top 100 list as we move into spring training. A couple of months ago I would have said no, despite my long-standing interest in him as a prospect, but right now I'm not so sure about that.

Since the trade he has been one of the top pitchers in the upper ranks of professional baseball; granted that's just 10 starts between Nashville and Oakland, but the 52/10 K/BB in that stretch is awfully purty and even during his inconsistent tenure in the Dodgers system he collected plenty of whiffs. His change-up is genuinely excellent, his command has improved, and his fastball velocity has stabilized in the low-90s after oscillating between the upper-80s and mid-90s earlier in his career.

Cotton is at least a Grade B- at this point and you can make a case for a Grade B, which would put him in Top 100 consideration. The perils of sample size can't be ignored of course, but sometimes you just believe in a guy. Jharel Cotton is one of those guys for me.

What say you?