Draft Update: Cole Struggles, Osich Shines

LOS ANGELES, Calif -- At this point, UCLA standouts Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer are no secret to the baseball world.  Oregon State left-hander, Josh Osich, however, is only recently becoming one of the hottest pitching prospects in the nation.  This weekend at Jackie Robinson Stadium, all three of these highly touted arms were on display, and it was Osich who helped his cause the most.

Cole's Struggles Not Stuff Related

Gerrit Cole has had his share of struggles in the last couple weeks, and those problems came to a head on Friday night.  The hard throwing right-hander was unable to make it out of the fifth inning, but it certainly wasn't his raw stuff that was giving him trouble.  In the early innings he worked at 93-96 mph, and in the last couple innings of his outing never dropped below 95 mph and sat consistently at 96-97 mph.  He topped out at 98 twice.  Also impressive was Cole's ability to maintain those numbers from the stretch.

It wasn't just his fastball that was looking crisp, either.  Although his inability to get ahead in the count on this night kept him from using his secondary pitches that often, he did show flashes of his sharp 86-88 mph slider.  Even more impressive was his 83-85 mph changeup.  Both of these offerings easily grade out as above average swing and miss pitches.

With a loaded arsenal like this, it's a surprise whenever Cole manages to get hit around even a little.  But, Oregon State did just that on Friday.  Cole struggled throughout with his command due to some mechanical battles.  He tends to land a little bit hard on his front foot and drift off of his back leg at times.  When that happens, it will make getting the ball down in the zone difficult for any pitcher.  This also made it difficult for Cole to generate the type of spin on his slider he typically has.

So, is this type of disappointing outing troubling from a scouting perspective?  No, it is not, but it does reveal some issues that will come up for Cole at the next level.  He has some mechanical inconsistencies to iron out and his location does tend to escape him occasionally.  Regardless of that, his arm is so special and the three pitch mix so unique for a pitcher with that type of velocity, that this type of start should no nothing to scare off teams picking in the top five.

Strikeouts Keep On Coming For Bauer

The general perception in the scouting community is that between the two star UCLA hurlers, Cole is the better pro prospect and Trevor Bauer is the better college pitcher.  After seeing the two of them on Friday and Saturday, I'd say it's quite true that Cole is the superior prospect, but Bauer is not all that far behind.

The 6-foot-2 Bauer worked at 92-94 mph on Saturday night, dipping to 91 mph only a couple times and topping out at 95 in his well over 100 pitch outing.  It was his secondary pitches, however, that stood out.  Bauer consistently buckled hitters with his 77-79 mph hammer breaking ball and got swings and misses on his diving 82-85 mph changeup.  Also mixing in the occasional slider, the key word with Bauer is unpredictable.

He shows a willingness to throw any of the pitches in his arsenal in any count.  The downside in that is a lot of deep counts.  This is something Bauer will need to contend with at the next level.  His fastball command has room for improvement, and he'll need to get better at attacking hitters early in counts with it.

With three better than average pitches, a resume of nothing but success, and a real idea of how to pitch and put hitters away, there are few flaws to be aware of.  But, fastball command early in counts and keeping his pitch counts down will be something he'll need to work on.

Osich On The Rise

Even amongst two well known commodities in Bauer and Cole, Osich was the clear standout of the weekend, as he tossed a no-hitter against the UCLA lineup, which included 13 strikeouts and just one walk.  Osich is coming off Tommy John surgery, so he came into the spring with much more to prove than most.  Saturday's outing was a big step in making his case.

Early on, Osich worked at 92-94 mph, eventually settling in consistently around 91-93 as the innings wore on.  More importantly, the velocity he produces comes with relative ease, which isn't too surprising considering his strong, athletic frame.  And, considering his injury history that type of ease in his delivery is a plus to see as well.

Osich mixed in a few sliders on Saturday, but his weapon of choice was clearly his changeup.  He showed such conviction in this pitch that he didn't hesitate to throw three in a row.  I graded this offering out as a 6 with potential to be a 7 on the 2-8 scouting scale.  His command of the changeup, which he threw at 80-84 mph, was uncanny on Saturday night, as he was able to pitch backwards as well as finish hitters off routinely.  The ability to pick his spots for his changeup and consistently throw it for strikes was incredibly impressive, particularly for a pitcher with such limited experience.

In other words, Osich has two pitches, including his fastball, that are above average and will produce swings and misses at the professional level.  And, he has the aggression in the zone and mentality to attack the zone and go after hitters.  If his breaking ball continues to develop post-surgery, he has the look of a pitch who could pitch near the front of a rotation.  In terms of a big league comparison, stylistically speaking, he's similar to Yankee ace CC Sabathia in the way he uses his changeup and tends to be aggressive in the zone.

If teams are willing to look past the lack of track record from Osich, he's a first round talent.  Most likely, given the talent in this class, he won't go inside the first round, but someone is going to get a tremendous value a little further down the line.

Scouting Baseball Top Stories