Cole sent down to Minor League camp

No. 1 pick hopes to establish routine in preparation for season

By David Heck / Special to | March 8, 2012 5:21 PM ET

It wasn't a big secret that Gerrit Cole, the first overall pick in last June's Draft by the Pirates, was not long for Major League Spring Training. On Thursday, Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington stayed true to his word.

The Pirates sent Cole down to Minor League camp, where the right-hander will have an opportunity to get more reps and work with the same staff that will oversee his progress during the season.

"It's just about innings," Huntington told "We want to make sure we keep Gerrit stretched out, keep him on track and get him with his pitching coach, so he's in position to have a great season. We're just out of innings for him, as we've got other guys who are in legitimate competition to make the club."

Cole did not get an opportunity to take part in an exhibition game this spring, pitching only in a pair of intrasquad contests. The Pirates wanted to give him a taste of big league camp, though, so he could get a sense of what it takes to make it in baseball.

"This has been an information-gathering time for him," manager Clint Hurdle told "I like everything I see. Everybody likes his arm, likes the man. I was happy to have him in camp. It was a tremendous learning opportunity for him."

"It was important to give Cole a look at how veterans go about their business, how they care about their work," Huntington added. "The goal was to get Gerrit that experience."

For his part, Cole is on board with the team's decision to send him down.'s No. 11 prospect thinks it will give him more of a routine as he prepares for his first professional season.

"I would have liked some more innings up there, that would have been nice," Cole told "I just think it'll be more regular [going forward, in the Minor League camp], and then I'll get to face other teams too. That's going to be cool."

Cole is expected to start the season with Class A Advanced Bradenton, where he will likely join's No. 8 prospect, Jameson Taillon. Cole has already gotten some sense of Minor League competition, as he pitched to a 3.00 ERA in 15 Arizona Fall League innings.

Looking back on his time with the Pirates' big league club, he said it was a worthwhile experience.

"I had fun. I learned a lot about what it takes to be a Major League player," Cole said. "I soaked up a lot of information."

David Heck is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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