Pirates promote 2011 top pick Gerrit Cole to Double-A

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Gerrit Cole tossed five shutout innings at high Single-A last night, lowering his ERA to 2.55 in 13 starts, and today the Pirates promoted last year’s No. 1 overall pick to Double-A at age 21.

Cole signed too late to debut last season after getting an $8 million bonus out of UCLA, so the Pirates had him skip rookie-ball and low Single-A to begin this year. He thrived, posting a 69/21 K/BB ratio and .217 opponents’ batting average in 67 innings in addition to the shiny 2.55 ERA.

That includes a 1.96 ERA in his final 10 starts against Florida State League competition, so Cole definitely looks ready to tackle the Eastern League and will make his debut there Wednesday against the Twins’ affiliate.

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.