Gerrit Cole back in High School circa 2008.
Gerrit Cole made his long awaited Yankees debut on Thursday, picking up his first win and striking out five in five innings. He was initially drafted by the Yankees out of high school back in 2008 and we take a look back at our interview him from that night in a "free preview" of our premium content. Like content like this and want more? Be sure to subscribe to PinstripesPlus.com.
[This interview was conducted back in June of 2008]
PinstripesPlus.com: What was going through your mind when the Yankees selected you in the first round?
Gerrit Cole: I was like ‘oh my gosh', I was ecstatic. I really had no idea that it was going to happen. I was out on the golf course and my adviser called me and said ‘you just got drafted by the Yankees'. I was like ‘holy cow' and he was like ‘congratulations man'. I screamed on the golf course and my phone exploded with calls and text messages. It was pretty crazy.
PinstripesPlus.com: There were reports and projections that you would go higher in the draft. Were you expecting to go higher in the draft and, if so, when you slipped down to the Yankees did that cushion the blow a little bit?
Cole: Everyone predicted their own deal of where everybody was going to go, but I talked to a bunch of teams and we really had no idea where I'd be drafted. We had an idea of a couple of teams that were interested, but there was no expectation to go in the top fifteen or the top five, nothing like that. Basically I went into the draft with a completely open mind so I wasn't really shocked by going to so low or going high, or whatever. I was just excited I got drafted.
PinstripesPlus.com: Did you have a favorite team or a favorite player growing up?
Cole: It was the Yankees and I think my favorite player has to be Derek Jeter. My dad grew up in Syracuse and he was a Yankee fan. My mom was born in Utica. They're all New Yorkers. I'm not a band-wagoner. I even went to the 2001 World Series when they played the Diamondbacks. We drove out to Arizona to see them.
PinstripesPlus.com: Since your parents grew up Yankees fans, were they totally blown away when they drafted you?
Cole: I went golfing with my friends because that's like my second favorite sport and I don't get to do that a lot, so it was an opportunity to go golfing with them. I went golfing and my mom was with my sister. My dad was actually at a restaurant with a couple of his buddies and they were all watching it on TV. They just went crazy in the restaurant.
PinstripesPlus.com: Did you have any idea the Yankees were interested in drafting you?
Cole: Yeah because we had all of our meetings with the teams and there were a few teams that were like ‘yeah, we're interested in you' and they were one of them. Generally though there was no real specific interest. Nobody was like ‘we want to draft you and it's going to happen'. There was nothing like that.
PinstripesPlus.com: Talk about your high school career. Did you accomplish everything you wanted to?
Cole: Almost. The goal was to win CIF, which is our state kind of deal, and that didn't happen. We came up just short. A passed ball kind of lost us the last game. We definitely came around, I'd say one-hundred and ten percent, from the year before, which was also our goal. You can't have everything. It was definitely a successful season and the most memorable one. It was a fun team, we had a great team atmosphere, we all played together and liked each other, so it was definitely a good year.
PinstripesPlus.com: Give us a scouting report on yourself. What kind of pitches do you throw and at what speeds, what's your best pitch, etc?
Cole: I basically throw three different types of fastballs. I throw a cut-fastball, a four-seam fastball, and a two-seam fastball. My two-seam fastball kind of bores into right-handers and that's the pitch I use the most. I have a slider and I have a changeup. The changeup I threw this year I just switched up recently. It's basically a four-seam changeup, kind of like Johan Santana's. It's all based on arm speed. The slider I throw pretty hard, right around 85-86 MPH. You can't pick it up, I don't think so from what guys have told me. It's got a lot of late break just like fastball and it's kind of in between the fastball and the changeup. The changeup is right around 82 MPH, the slider's around 86 MPH, and the fastball is around 96-97 MPH. It's kind of weird, in the beginning of the games I don't top out as fast. I won't top out in the first or second inning. I guess it just takes me a little while to get warmed up. I'll usually sit 93-94 MPH in the first inning and then the second inning topping out around 96 MPH, and then in the later innings around the fourth, fifth, or sixth, that's when I start brining it and I'll start sitting around 96-97 MPH, around there.
PinstripesPlus.com: Coach Grahovac told us you hit 101 MPH. What was going through your mind when you saw that?
Cole: It was the only time I've hit 101 MPH, it was in our last game, the game we lost. I didn't know until after the game because a bunch of guys came up to me and told me. It was kind of thing in our school, all of the students try to sit behind the scouts and watch the radar guns as they go up. After the game nobody tried to make it a big deal because we lost and it was our last game, so it wasn't that big of a deal after the game. After I got over the loss it was pretty exciting. It kind of sunk in that it was 101 MPH.
PinstripesPlus.com: Who would you compare your game to at the big league level, not to say you are that guy but to give our readers an idea of what your game is like?
Cole: Jake Peavy, just because we have similar mechanics, we have similar arm slots, we both come off of the mound and we both don't really throw across our bodies but our front foot is a little bit closed and allows us both to get the same kind of action and sink on our fastballs. He throws a different changeup than me but our sliders are pretty much the same. His changeup is around 88 MPH which is different because mine is slower but the way he approaches hitters is the same. He throws inside to righties and he uses the two-seam deal kind of like Chien-Ming Wang does, kind of bores it down and in to righties and gets a lot of ground balls. I throw a little harder than Jake does but I attack hitters pretty much the same way. Our stuff is pretty similar too.
PinstripesPlus.com: What would you say is your best moment in baseball so far?
Cole: I would just say this whole year just because it was such a blast. Our whole team was kind of like a bunch of brothers. We'd all go out together after the games and I still keep in touch with a lot of the sophomores and juniors there.
PinstripesPlus.com: Pitching in New York is not like pitching everywhere else. Do you think once you've signed with the Yankees and made your way through the farm system up to New York, do you think the pressures of pitching in New York will be a problem for you?
Cole: Hopefully it won't be. I like pitching in big situations. I like to feed off of the energy. I can't really answer that question because I've never been there. I've never been in that situation like Joba [Chamberlain] or [Mariano] Rivera. Hopefully I'll use the same kind of tactics I use now, embrace it and roll with it, not let it get to me.
PinstripesPlus.com: You brought up his name and when you're talking about a power fastball and a power slider to Yankees fans, the first name that pops up is Joba Chamberlain. I know you said your game is like Jake Peavy, but how similar is your game to Joba Chamberlain?
Cole: Sort of. I guess maybe height-wise and velocity-wise for sure. When Joba's pitching everybody is like ‘yeah, fastballs and strikeouts'. When I was pitching in high school everybody was saying "yeah, fastballs and strikeouts,' the same kind of deal. In that kind of instance we're the same but stuff-wise we're pretty different. He throws a hard slider as well but he also throws a big curveball he comes back with and he'll mix those two up. He's also got a couple of different changeups and his fastball, I don't know if he throws a two-seam, but his four-seam has different kind of movement. It doesn't sink or anything, it just kind of explodes at the end.