Gerrit Cole | RHP, Pirates | Born:  9/8/1990

As the first overall selection in the 2011 draft, signed out of UCLA to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a bonus worth $8 million, Gerrit Cole has arrived in pro baseball with large expectations.  The hype isn’t without merit, though.  Cole’s heater tops out at 102 mph and he counters with a deadly slider and a plus change.  His arsenal is impressive, and at an athletic 6-4, 220, Cole’s frame projects wonderfully.  He’s simply oozing with ace-potential.  Trevor Bauer, his teammate at UCLA, has captured most of the fantasy-prospect-to-watch headlines this spring, and based on his proximity to the majors, rightfully so.  Looking long-term, however, Cole figures to be the safer bet to reach and sustain fantasy ace status.  The major factor holding him back for the time being is command.

The aforementioned 100+ mph fastball isn’t quite as precise as Pirates hope it soon will be.  For now, Pittsburgh has Cole working in the mid-90’s, focusing on hitting spots while working out some flaws in his delivery.  Cole made his full-season debut last week in the Florida State League for High-A Bradenton and was impressive:  4 IP, 7 K, 1 BB, 4 H, 1 R.  The most noteworthy nugget from that start being he recorded all 12 outs via grounder or whiff – good contact was tough to come by for the opposition.  Cole’s second appearance was not nearly as successful as he surrendered four hits (two homers), walked two, and gave up four runs in just three innings of work.  He drew four more strikeouts, which is nice to see, but the outing was otherwise void of good news.  If nothing else, it serves to remind us that the 21-year-old is still a work-in-progress.  But do keep track of Gerrit Cole.  When he learns to harness his tremendous repertoire, he’ll push through the minors quickly and it won’t be long until Cole is making his presence known in the fantasy game.  A 2013 arrival seems most likely, but should he figure things out a bit sooner, the Pirates could use him in September.

Oscar Taveras | OF, Cardinals | Born:  6/19/1992

It doesn’t really get any more “unknown” than this.  That’s Oscar Taveras on third in that screencap.  But as the Cardinals’ broadcast would have you know, that’s “Minor League Guy”.  No matter what you call him, number 91 there is a damn good prospect and he should be approaching your fantasy horizons this year.  Taveras spent 2011 at Low-A Quad Cities where he hit .386/.444/.584 with 40 XBH in 347 trips to the plate.  The Cardinals chose to skip High-A and promoted their 19-year-old, Dominican-born outfield prospect to Double-A Springfield, where he’s already blasted two homers and knocked in 10 through 41 PA.  Taveras has outstanding hands at the plate.  He makes great contact and has very few holes in his swing.  With Carlos Beltran’s contract set to expire following the 2013 season, the Cardinals hope to slot Taveras in right field for full-time duties beginning in 2014.  I imagine, though, that we’ll see him up in some capacity before then.  A September call up for Taveras, too, could be in order if he’s able to maintain his hot start in the Texas League.