A couple of rough outings early this season have done nothing to dull the shine on Gerrit Cole's future, something that was on display Saturday night in Bradenton, Fla.
MLB.com's No. 10 prospect yielded one run on three hits and struck out five over six innings as the Class A Advanced Marauders cruised to a 9-1 victory over the St. Lucie Mets.
Cole's only mistake was a third-inning homer by Mets' No. 17 prospect Danny Muno. After giving up a single to Wilmer Flores in the fourth, the top overall pick in last year's Draft retired his final eight batters en route his second win of the season.
"I was just making pitches early and getting ahead of guys and getting quick outs," the Pirates' No. 2 prospect said. "I was starting to hit spots a little more, and we had a six-run lead and that changes the game a little bit. It just lets you be more aggressive; you're not playing in a tight ballgame, so you just attack guys."
In his last three starts, Cole (2-1) has allowed three earned runs on seven hits over 17 innings. He's won twice in that span while lowering his ERA from 4.76 to 3.18.
"I kind of got in a rhythm in my last four or five starts," the 21-year-old right-hander said. "Sometimes I haven't had the results I wanted, but I've been throwing the ball better as of late, so I just have to keep doing the same thing."
The UCLA has recorded 39 strikeouts against 11 walks over 34 innings and has held Florida State League foes to a .193 batting average.
"It's been good," Cole said of his first Minor League season. "I'm learning a lot and I'm having a lot of fun. It's the same game as college but a little different. You just make some adjustments and keep on rolling."
Casey Sadler followed Cole with three shutout innings to earn his second save.
Alex Dickerson, Pittsburgh's No. 14 prospect, drove in a pair of runs, while Carlos Paulino was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.