Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Meet a Prospect: A.J. Cole

Another beard bites the dust...


The New York Yankees acquired pitcher A.J. Cole from the Washington Nationals in exchange for cash considerations just hours after the team beat up on the Minnesota Twins to the tune of a 14-1 victory on Monday night. New York designated right-hander David Hale for assignment after pitching the final two innings of the contest in order to make room for Cole on the active roster. Cole was brought in as depth for the Yankees and their struggling bullpen so let’s meet him. This is Meet a Prospect Special Edition: The A.J. Cole Edition.

Andrew Jordan Cole was born on January 5, 1992 in Florida where he attended Oviedo High School in Oviedo, Florida. While there A.J. played for the school’s baseball team and committed to attend the University of Miami on a baseball scholarship. Cole was considered to be a first-round pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball First Year Players Draft but fell in the draft due to his commitment to Miami and reportedly due to a high signing bonus demand. Cole fell all the way to the fourth round where the Washington Nationals snatched him up and signed him to a $2 million signing bonus, a record bonus for a fourth-round pick, to forgo his commitment to Miami. Cole finished the 2010 season in the Minor Leagues with Washington and spent the 2011 season there as well before the Nationals included Cole in a trade package.

On December 23, 2011 the Nationals traded Cole, catcher Derek Norris and pitchers Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock to the Oakland Athletics for Gio Gonzalez and Robert Gilliam. Cole struggled as a new member of the Athletics farm system beginning the 2012 season with a 0-7 record and a bloated 7.82 ERA. Cole bounced back after a demotion by the Athletics, but Oakland had seen enough after one season and ultimately traded Cole back to the Nationals on January 16, 2013 along with Blake Treinen and a player to be named later (Ian Krol) in a three-team trade that sent Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners and Jon Jaso to the Athletics. Cole spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons with Washington before being added to the Nationals 40-man roster before the 2015 season.

Cole started the 2015 season back in the minors but was ultimately called up to make his MLB debut on April 28, replacing an injured Max Scherzer. Cole had a rough go of it in his MLB debut allowing nine runs in only two innings of work leading the Nationals to only allow him to appear in two more games that season, both out of the bullpen. Cole was back in Triple-A to start the 2016 season as he worked exclusively as a starting pitcher until August 18, 2016 when the Nationals called Cole up to work out of their bullpen. Cole remained in the bullpen until Stephen Strasburg went on the disabled list at the end of August 2016. Cole notched his first victory of his career on September 2, 2016 against the New York Mets.

Cole was back in Triple-A to begin the 2017 season but was called up on May 1, 2017 to fill in as a starting pitcher. Cole made one start before being optioned back down to Syracuse on May 12. Cole was called up multiple times throughout the 2017 season making various spot starts before coming up to stay on September 4 as a part of September call ups and roster expansion. Cole completed the 2017 season with a 3-5 record and a 3.81 ERA across 52 innings which included eight starts and three appearances as a relief pitcher.

Cole won the fifth starter job with the Nationals out of spring training in 2018 but the Atlanta Braves rudely welcomed him to the show scoring 10 runs off him in just 3.2 innings pitched. Cole made one more start for Washington before the Nationals moved Cole to the bullpen, where he will ultimately end up for Aaron Boone and company going forward. Good luck, A.J. and welcome to the family.


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