Aug. 20, 2011
PITTSBURGH - UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, was introduced at a Pittsburgh Pirates press conference Saturday afternoon at the Pirates' PNC Park.
Cole, 20, agreed to terms on a minor league contract with Pittsburgh on Monday, Aug. 15.
Cole was accompanied by his parents, sister, agent Scott Boras and UCLA head coach John Savage at Saturday afternoon's press conference.
Among the best pitchers in UCLA baseball history, Cole became the first Bruins' ballplayer selected first overall in June's MLB Draft earlier this summer. Prior to Cole's No. 1 overall selection, right-hander Tim Leary had been UCLA's highest-drafted player (June Draft), the second overall selection in 1979 by the New York Mets.
During his three years at UCLA (2009-11), Cole helped lead the Bruins to the finals of the College World Series (2010) for the first time in school history. In 2011, the hard-throwing right-hander from Santa Ana, Calif., helped UCLA secure its first outright Pac-10 Conference crown since 1986.
Cole ranks second in school history in strikeouts (376), third in starts (49) and fifth in innings pitched (322.1). He finished third on UCLA's single-season strikeouts list (153 as a sophomore in 2010) and sixth on the Pac-12 Conference's career strikeouts list (376). He took two perfect games into the seventh inning this year - in 25-degree weather at Nebraska on March 4 and at home the following week against Georgia (March 11).
In 16 games as a junior in 2011, Cole went 6-8 with a 3.31 ERA, four complete games, one shutout and 119 strikeouts.
Gerrit Cole Quotes
on the city of Pittsburgh and PNC Park
"I think it's awesome. I love the scenery. We went up on the hill and got to overlook the city at night. Unfortunately, you guys got [rain] delayed, but we got to have dinner and watch the lights and the reactions of the stadium up there because the game went kind of late last night."
on putting the uniform on for the first time
"It feels great. It feels awesome. I'll tell you what, the fabric is pretty good too. There's nothing like MLB threads."
on making the transition from college to the minor leagues
"There is definitely going to be some sort of learning curve. But there is a learning curve in college as well. So, getting use to your environment, surroundings, new workloads - fortunately, there is no class involved, which is going to be kind of nice. I'm pretty ready for the process. Obviously, I've done it before."
on what Gerrit needs to improve upon
"I think it's the whole package. Obviously, I've never thrown 200 innings before. So, physically, I need to be able to maintain that. Staying healthy is obviously key. But fastball command, slider command, it's not so much about pitching in the zone. It's being able to pitch out of the zone effectively to get hitters out at the major league level."
on Gerrit's reaction to being the first overall pick in June's MLB Draft
"When I got drafted, I think Greg [Smith] and Frank [Coonelly] and Neal [Huntington] called me, and I didn't really know how to react. I don't think I said very much, because I was just really speechless. It's just a tremendous honor to be selected and first overall is a whole different story. I'm tremendously blessed. It was a fantastic opportunity."
on thinking this situation could present itself when he chose to attend UCLA
"Everybody dreams of it. But I don't know if anybody really thinks that they're going to go number one overall. I was just excited to be able to go to college and have that experience, which was unbelievable."
on a timetable for advancing through the minor leagues
"The one thing I learned in school is that you've got to take things day by day and stay focused on what you have to accomplish that day and get better. Getting caught up in trying to move to the next level, or trying to get to the major leagues, as hard is it may be, is probably a distraction. You've got to leave it up to the team, the club, obviously Neal and those guys know what they're doing. It's going to be their decision. I've just got to take it day by day and work as hard as I can."