(Vancouver, B.C.) - It's been several years since former Vancouver Canadians RHP Taylor Cole last pitched here at historic Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium having earned a pair of Northwest League Championship rings from both 2011 and 2012. He would dominate in his second tour with the C's earning the first of a handful of promotions that would eventually land him on the cusp of a trip to the big leagues.
His call up to Toronto came in early August of 2017 as the Blue Jays were underperforming in the American League East at 53-60 (.469) while marred in injuries. Cole was estatic as were many fans here in Vancouver that got to know Cole over his two seasons with the Canadians. Cole struck you as mature by any standard as the former Brigham Young University (Utah) standout was taken in the 29th Round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
It was the third time that Cole had been drafted as both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks took a chance on the devote Mormon who chose to fulfill his spiritual journey before signing his name to a professional baseball contract. That mission as fate would have it, took him to Toronto where he would work with inner city children and families while helping his church with anything they needed. It was that maturity and commitment that fans here in Vancouver fell in love with as much as his 6-0 record with a league leading 0.81 ERA just a few points better than teammate RHP Javier Avendano.
Cole would rocket through Lansing (Midwest League) and Dunedin (Florida State League) and suddenly find himself with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League) in 2014 and a new set of expectations that come with a potential major league arm. He would bounce around within the Blue Jays system primarily honing his skills with the Fisher Cats before he finally got 'the call.'
That call would send him upward to a Blue Jays team that was in the midst of a collapse after two consecutive seasons in the playoffs. Injuries, underperforming stars swam in the open waters of mediocrity as the wide-eyed 27-year old Cole walked into the clubhouse ready for his arm to start writing the next chapter in his amazing journey.
He would face the New York Yankees who with a young star named Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez in tow, would go on to claim a spot in the post-season taking the attention away from Toronto. Cole's debut was to simply fill a hole and hope that he could continue what he had been doing somewhere between New Hampshire, Dunedin and Triple-A Buffalo.
He took to the mound with one out and one on in the top of the 8th inning and proceeded to give up six hits, four earned runs and hand an 11-5 victory to the Yankees in front of nearly 40,000 disenchanted fans out at Rogers Centre. It would be a long night for Cole who had dreamed of a Major League debut - but never considered getting pulled after a barrage of offense that left his cap spinning.
Most pitchers when something as rough like Cole's debut happens, simply want to get to the next outing so they can rinse the taste of failure out from their mouths and move forward. That moment never came for Cole as his toe would throb relentlessly to the point the Blue Jays trainer looked at it and said it was broken. Amidst the adrenaline, the excitement and the crazy moments that made up his debut, Cole somehow fractured his toe and ended his season with just the one Major League game.
Now, you would think it would be a simple rest, rehab and re-do for Cole, but this is where the maturity had to come into play as the Blue Jays suddenly released him from his contract on August 14th to remove him from the 40-man roster while he recovered from his fractured toe.
The Blue Jays would re-sign him after three days and opt him back to the Minor Leagues and a stint on the Disabled List. Cole decided that he would test the waters of Free Agency and say goodbye to the Blue Jays after seven years within the organzation.
Determined to catch on with another team looking to give him an opportunity, that call finally came just days ago on March 4th as Cole signed with the Los Angeles Angels who gave him a chance with a Minor League contract.
"I'll be forever grateful for my time with the Blue Jays and all the experiences and friendships I made along the way...Excited to start a new chapter of my life with the Angels," Cole stated via his instagram account just hours after inking his deal on the West Coast. And with that - the journey continues for a player that is still reveered here in Vancouver. No guarantees, no assurances - just a field to play on and an opportunity to continue being a professional. Some would say his toe injury truly was a bad 'break', no pun intended, but if Taylor Cole's travels through baseball and life have shown us, he's one of the rare ones that will be up for the challenge.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.