By Jim Colony

BRADENTON, Fla. (93-7 The Fan) — Top pitching prospect Gerrit Cole may already be ticketed for AAA, but Cole is looking like he’ll make that as difficult a decision as possible, pitching four mostly-efficient innings, allowing two hits, one walk and two runs on a home run to Ryan Flaherty in a 5-2 win over the Orioles in Sarasota.

Looking a lot like he had against the minor leaguers on Team Spain, Cole retired the first seven batters he faced, before walking Manny Machado in the third and the went 2-0 on Ryan Flaherty before Flaherty homered to right-center.

“Pumping fastballs all day, they were bound to catch up to one,” said Cole who didn’t seem bothered by the blast.
Cole doesn’t typically say a whole lot, but his catcher, Russell Martin does.

“We fell behind 2-0,” Martin said. “It was good four-seam fastball and it was probably in his nitro zone and he put a good swing on the ball and you tip your cap.”

  • Listen to Martin’s post-game interview:

It was Martin’s first time catching Cole and it seems there’s nothing he doesn’t like about the phenom.

“I like his attitude out there,” Martin said. “I like his competitive spirit, I like his fastball, I like the way he can throw the ball in all quadrants. He’s got good feel out on the mound. He’s got a good plan and he can execute it. He’s pretty polished for a young guy.”

Cole likes throwing to Martin as well.

“It was good,” Cole said. “Hopefully I’ll work with him a lot more.”

  • Listen to Cole’s post-game interview:

As for Martin’s shoulder, he says it feels “100 percent.”

“I felt great,” Martin said. “The throws to second base were about 80 percent. I rarely throw 100 percent because I’m not as accurate.”

The Orioles had a couple of chances to run on him but ultimately did not.

“I love it when guys to try steal on me,” Martin said. “The odds are I’ll throw them out and then they don’t steal anymore.”
Certainly Pirates fans hope that’s the case this season after a disastrous 2012 trying to control runners.

Offensively, Matt Hague – also known as the Hit Collector – was 3-3 with an RBI double, Clint Barmes was 2-2 with an RBI single and Alex Presley, Jose Tabata and Matt Curry all had RBI singles.

The other Pirates team also won in Ft. Myers, 7-4 over the Twins. The Sanchezes — Gaby and Tony — both hit home runs and Andrew McCutchen also homered. Lefthanded reliever Mike Zagurski pitched another scoreless inning striking out two.

Jeff Locke starts against the Orioles Monday in Bradenton at 1:05 p.m. It will be broadcast on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.