Gerrit ColeMajor League scouts were saying five years ago that
was a can't miss prospect while attending high school at Orange Lutheran (Orange, Calif.)
Rather than ink a large signing bonus, the then 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-hand pitcher, who was clocked at 96 mph as a prep, decided to go the college route at UCLA.
After his first three starts in the majors, his path appears paved in gold as he's off to a 3-0 start with a 3.44 ERA.
Cole won his third straight start Friday with a 5-2 win at the Los Angeles Angels, just a hop, skip and jump from Orange Lutheran. See photo gallery of Gerrit Cole in high school
He pitched 6.1 innings, struck out a career high five with one walk while giving up four hits. According to reports, he repeatedly hit 100 mph on the Angel Stadium radar gun.
He retired 11 straight before Albert Pujols launched a solo homer to lead off the seventh.
"It was a lot of fun to see everybody and be back in California," Cole told reporters after the game
. "I wasn't expecting to be back here for another few months, so it was great."
Cole was great in high school though he didn't make the varsity as a sophomore, instead allowing no runs in 45 innings for the Lutheran JV team. As a senior on varsity, he was 8-2 with a 0.46 ERA with 121 strikeouts in 75 innings. He also batted .310 and blasted six home runs
He was a first-team MaxPreps All-American
The Yankees made him the No. 28 pick overall but instead he chose the college route and though he led the Bruins to the College World Series, his numbers weren't great.
His arm was good enough to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 Major League draft by the Pirates, who signed him for $8 million just 15 minutes before the signing deadline.
Cole told Greg Beacham of the Associated Press that he wasn't nervous Friday until he heard the "Calling All Angels" ballad played before every Angels' game.
"I've probably been listening to that song here since I was like 6 years old," he told Beacham. "I might have a couple of Rally Monkeys at home."
Said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle: "He pitched like he was pitching in front of his friends and family. He was geared up. He got after it. It was like… he wasn't going to let anybody down."
He hasn't thus far. His first two wins came against Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke.