Jake Cose, then a sophomore corner infielder at San Joaquin Delta College in California, was messing around on the mound one day toward the beginning of his team's 2011 season, when one of his coaches grabbed a radar gun.
The native of nearby Stockton, Calif. was clocked at 94 mph in a moment that would prove to be the beginning of the end for his career as a position player.
Now a starter for Class A Kannapolis, Cose displayed the fruits of two years' worth of pitching development Sunday, yielding one hit and a walk while striking out six over seven shutout innings as the Intimidators were edged by the Charleston RiverDogs, 1-0.
After that moment on the mound in 2011, Cose began closing for Delta College. Toward the end of the year, he made a few starts. He finished the season with a 2.31 ERA, striking out 27 and walking 10 over 35 innings.
The White Sox took a flier on the right-hander in the 27th round of the 2011 Draft, and in the ensuing 18 months, Cose has shown a lot of promise as he's slowly turned himself into a professional pitcher.
"I feel like a lot of it was self-taught, just trial and error. Messing around a lot playing catch, different grips, see what's moving, what's not," he said. "Not to take away any credit from the pitching coaches, they do a great job. But the movement on my slider and changeup, stuff like that, that's all trial and error. I never pitched a full year [in college] so I'm still learning, trying to pick things up."
The 22-year-old has proven to be a fast learner. In his first 11 professional appearances -- all out of the bullpen -- with Rookie-level Bristol in 2011 he recorded an 8.18 ERA. Then last year after his first three starts, still in the Appalachian League, Cose had a 13.50 ERA in 10 frames.
After that ignominious start over his next nine starts for Bristol, he compiled a 2.63 ERA in 51 2/3 innings and concluded the year with a three shutout frames in an appearance with Kannapolis.
This season, Cose is 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 27 innings. He's struck out 22 and walked 10. He attributes the turnaround to a mechanical tweak he made on his own.
"From last year, I feel like I've progressed an enormous amount. My first three starts last year were just awful," he said. "So I kind of took a step back and took it upon myself to lower my arm angle a bit. I was over the top, maybe a high three-quarters guy, dropped it to low three-quarters, maybe even side-arm.
"That was just my idea. The organization didn't like it at first, but once they saw it was successful, they let me do my own thing. I thought it was pretty cool of them. I feel like I'm a completely different pitcher now than I was at the beginning of last season."
As he continues his pitching experiment, Cose said he feels that, even with the promising initial results, he has a lot of room for growth.
"I want to turn my slider into a sharper slider. As of right now, it's probably more like a slurve. Like any pitcher I would like to pump up the [velocity], get bigger, stronger, hopefully get to the mid-90. I've been playing baseball all my life, so I've always just kind of known the pitching thing. Guess I'm a quick learner," he said, laughing.
On Sunday, Charleston's Taylor Dugas scored on a wild pitch in the eighth inning to account for the game's only run. Gabriel Encinas, who started opposite Cose, scattered five hits and two walks while fanning three over six scoreless innings of his own.