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Prospects Cole, Rivero cut from big-league camp

Mar 12, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT

AP AP

The Nationals trimmed their spring training roster by two more names this morning, sending down a pair of promising pitching prospects.

Left-hander Felipe Rivero was optioned to Class AA Harrisburg, while right-hander A.J. Cole (who isn’t on the club’s 40-man roster yet) was re-assigned to minor-league camp.

Both young pitchers impressed in their first big-league camp in Viera.

Cole, rated by Baseball America as the Nationals’ second-best prospect behind fellow right-hander Lucas Giolito, made three relief appearances totaling 6 2/3 innings without surrendering a run or walking a batter while striking out seven.

The 22-year-old, sent to the Athletics in Dec. 2011 as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade and then re-acquired a year later in the three-team deal that sent Michael Morse to the Mariners, re-established his place within the organization last season, going a combined 10-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 25 starts with Class A Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg. The 6-foot-4 hurler is likely to return to Harrisburg to open this season but could move quickly up the ladder.

Rivero was acquired from the Rays last month as part of the deal that also landed catcher Jose Lobaton. Touted by general manager Mike Rizzo, the 22-year-old made three appearances this spring, allowing two runs in four innings while also not issuing any walks.

Rivero went 9-7 with a 3.40 ERA in 25 games (23 starts) for Tampa Bay’s high-Class A affiliate last season. He’ll get a chance to move up to Class AA now.

Today’s moves leave the Nationals with 55 players in big-league camp, with 19 days until the season opens.

  1. masterfishkeeper - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Did Cole grow 4 inches? Thought he was “only” 6’4″.

    • Mark Zuckerman - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      Whoops. I must’ve had Doug Fister on my mind when I mistyped that. Cole indeed is “only” 6-foot-4.

    • Doc - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      Me too, masterfish.

      Maybe he’s started using elevator cleets!!

      I’m going to try and run down his height. Don’t think that he is 6′ 8″.

      • Doc - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        Cole listed as 6′ 4″ on a reference site.

  2. Theophilus T.S. - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    Since when is Cole 6’8″?

    Notwithstanding, he looked very poised. In the latter innings against other minor leaguers that’s about all a layman can measure. Rivero certainly looked poised also, especially considering he has not pitched above A-ball. I would like to see Cole move up to AAA at some at some point this season, in part to face more experienced (more selective) hitters and in part because it seems like a natural progression given his age and experience. But there isn’t any point in rushing things because, for the foreseeable future, there isn’t a place for him to “progress” any further.

  3. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    wow salute to you guys for remembering a prospect’s height when I can’t even tell if that pic up there is of cole or rivero.

    • sjm308 - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      Faraz, once you see Rivero, you will understand that its pretty easy to tell them apart – I am glad to see Mark jump in so quickly and correct the height. Not a big deal to me but its neat that he is on top of stuff like that.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        yeah, that’s real cool of him.

        by the way, doesn’t cole lack some meat? may be it is the angle at which picture is taken, but he looks really thin. RD-level thin.

  4. sjm308 - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    I loved watching both these guys throw and think the future is extremely bright.

    I wanted to jump on a thought from the last article. It still rankles me how almost the entire baseball world killed Rizzo and the Nationals on the Strasburg shutdown and the example they used was the Braves and Medlen and how he was still pitching late in the season because of their brilliance. I am not blaming the Braves here but it just shows that you have no real control on this. Pitching is a violent action and our guy could go down at any time as well. I just think the “know it alls” have no idea when it comes to what is correct or not.

    • masterfishkeeper - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      Good point on this. I remember last year being surprised that Medlen wasn’t on an innings limit, since it was his first full year as a starter. I’m not saying the Braves handled him incorrectly, because I don’t know enough to know that, but I was surprised that it was not really discussed in the media.

      • therealjohnc - Mar 12, 2014 at 4:58 PM

        The thing that made Medlen’s situation a bit different is his age. Teams are most careful about how they handle young (under 25) pitchers. Medlen is 28. That makes a big difference to baseball teams, rightly or wrongly.

  5. Section 222 - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    I’ll bet the Braves’ fans are happy that they kept Medlen available for their great postseason run in 2012. Oh wait…

  6. 34natsfan - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Hard for me to understand why some of these moves are made when every year it seems we have young guys outperforming once good MLBers with performances (recent as well as last year) rating as average or worse. If I am running things I go with the best performances instead of hope that last year’s regulars return to their form from 2 years ago.

    • therealjohnc - Mar 12, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      Because
      (a) ST stats mean NOTHING. No, really, they don’t. SSS under artificial conditions.
      (b) It’s much more common for major league players to regress to their career averages than it is for prospects to make it
      (c) Limiting your information to the most recent season’s stats without examining context (age, career numbers, other factors, statistical profiles that may indicate the player was lucky/unlucky, etc) is actually pretty foolish.

  7. 34natsfan - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Hard for me to understand why some of these moves are made when every year it seems we have young guys outperforming once good MLBers with performances (recent as well as last year) rating as average or worse. If I am running things I go with the best performances instead of hope that last year’s regulars who underperformed last year as well as this spring will return to their form from 2 years ago.

  8. dgourds - Mar 13, 2014 at 3:08 AM

    If Cole isn’t on the 40 man, is he vulnerable to rule 5?

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