Pirates sending No. 1 pick Gerrit Cole to Arizona Fall League

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No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole didn’t sign with Pittsburgh until just before the August 16 deadline and won’t make his official minor-league debut until next season, but the Pirates announced that the right-hander from UCLA will pitch in the Arizona Fall League next month.

General manager Neal Huntington told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review that the Pirates were pleased with Cole’s conditioning when he showed up to their instructional league and “always thought the best way for Gerrit to begin his development in our organization was to be challenged by the competition in Arizona.”

Typically the AFL features many more top-notch hitting prospects than pitching prospects because the environment is so hitter-friendly, so it’ll be interesting to see how the 21-year-old Cole fares after signing for $8 million.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.