Aug. 16, 2008
LOS ANGELES - Gerrit Cole, a right-handed pitcher from Orange Lutheran High School who was selected as the New York Yankees' first-round draft selection this year (28th overall), has chosen to attend and play baseball at UCLA. The deadline for draftees to sign pro contracts passed Friday, Aug. 15, at 9 p.m. (PT).
Cole, listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, becomes the first first-round draft selection out of high school to ever attend UCLA. Additionally, the hard-throwing right-hander is the first such draftee to enter college since 2002, when infielder John Mayberry, Jr. enrolled at Stanford after having been drafted by the Seattle Mariners (28th overall). Former Bruin standouts Troy Glaus (37th overall, 1994 draft) and Chase Utley (76th overall, 1997) were both second-round draft picks in high school before enrolling at UCLA.
"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to get my education and play baseball at UCLA," said Cole, who signed a National Letter of Intent in November 2007 to play in Westwood. "Coach Savage has really established UCLA as one of the nation's top college baseball programs, and that's something I want to be a part of. His knowledge as a pitching coach is only going to help my development, and I'm excited to get started with the Bruins this fall."
Rated the top high school prospect and the fourth-best high school player in the nation by Perfect Game Crosschecker and Baseball America, respectively, Cole was a three-year varsity letterwinner under head coach Mike Grahovac at Orange Lutheran. As a senior, Cole registered a 0.46 earned-run average and an 8-2 record, totaling 121 strikeouts and 18 walks in 75.2 innings. Offensively, he batted .310 with seven home runs and 25 RBI.
"We are looking forward to having Gerrit start his career at UCLA," said head coach John Savage, who has led UCLA to the NCAA Tournament the past three years. "We look for him to become a key contributor this spring and in the years to come. Gerrit is clearly one of the best young right-handers to enter college this season."
Cole was named to USA Today's All-USA High School Team and earned second-team Baseball America All-America honors in 2008 after having been named a 2007 AFLAC All-America selection. As a junior in 2007, he posted a 0.97 earned-run average and a 3-0 record with two saves in 29 innings. That spring, he allowed just 12 hits, totaling 39 strikeouts and 11 walks before earning second-team All-Trinity League accolades.
Baseball America rated Cole the third-best prospect in the 2008 class at Perfect Game's National Showcase in Cincinnati in June 2007. He was tabbed the fifth-best prospect in the 2008 class at the World Wood Bat Association's fall 2007 championships by Baseball America.
In 2009, the UCLA baseball program welcomes back 22 letterwinners and returns 15 of 16 pitchers from its 2008 squad. The baseball team returns to campus when fall quarter classes begin Thursday, Sept. 25.