As a Pirate fan, I’d guess that I spend about half of my time trying to find things to get my hopes up about and the other half of my time trying to talk myself out of being hopeful about anything at all. It’s admittedly a pretty difficult cycle to go through over and over again, but it’s something that happens to me so automatically that I don’t even realize it’s happening most of the time.
I was pretty guarded about Gerrit Cole pitching in the Arizona Fall League when it was announced a few weeks ago. The results in the AFL really mean nothing; two years ago Donnie Veal was pitching like Cliff Lee while Stephen Strasburg got roughed up pretty badly in his first few professional starts. These are the sorts of things that happen in the AFL, and so getting wrapped up in anything related to the league is a bad idea.
And then Cole took the mound in his first start, and with in a few pitches he was hitting triple digits. He did it again yesterday, and no one that’s watching him in Arizona seems to have a bad thing to say about him. Following his start this afternoon, I had the exact same thought that Dejan Kovacevic had: the Pirates have never had a pitcher like this. Ever.
They still don’t, of course, because it’s only the AFL and because so many things can go wrong between now and then for Cole. But for now, at least, I just want to enjoy the fact that the Pirates were dealt a relatively tough hand in the first round of this year’s draft, at least when compared to how first overall picks normally go with a player or two separating themselves from the pack, and the very early returns on the decision they made are good. Hopefully, things only get better from here.