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.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.