Scouting Yankees Prospect #36: Jordan Cote

Cote has significant long-term upside

The New York Yankees selected right-handed pitcher Jordan Cote in the third round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Winnisquam Regional High School in New Hampshire. He had a brilliant statistical professional debut season in 2012 with the Gulf Coast League Yankees and yet despite that he still has a ways to go towards beginning to tap his vast potential.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jordan Cote
Position: Pitcher
DOB: November 13, 1992
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He went 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA for the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2012, striking out 25 batters in a little more than 27 innings and issuing just four walks along the way. Behind the great numbers though were bouts of inconsistencies and nagging injuries throughout his debut season.

"I feel like I pitched well when I pitched," Cote said. "I never really had any injuries but I did have some small [nagging] stuff.

"I had some tendonitis that kept going on and I had a little flare up with my plyca tissue. It was disappointing."

He battled elbow tendonitis throughout portions of the season, the same kind of nagging injury that kept outfielder Brett Gardner out for the better part of the 2012 season, and he had his season end prematurely in late July.

"It was just inflammation of the tissue that bothered me just enough," he added. "When I went down in July the plan was to take just two weeks off. I took the two weeks off, nothing got better.

"I threw for a week, a week and a half, and then went back to the trainers and said 'it's not any better'. I went to the doctors again and they said it never really calmed down so they shut me down again for another three weeks. It just never healed I guess."

He finally got over the injury by the time Instructional League camp opened up in late September and he was even able to pitch in a couple of games. However, the loss of development time did take its toll on him.

"I thought Instructs went good," he said. "It was more of a rehab thing for me. They just wanted to make sure I was alright and use it as a confidence booster going into this spring knowing that I okay and throwing alright.

"I was good. I worked on my curveball a little bit and on my changeup some more. I started throwing the curveball a little bit better and I was just getting the feel for the changeup again."

The changeup really developed well over the course of his debut season, so much so that it is now his go-to strikeout pitch. The curveball on the other had is a completely different matter.

"It's a work in progress," Cote admitted. "I had always thrown a regular curveball and we switched it to the spike [curveball], and I just never really felt comfortable with it. It never really got to the point where I had the confidence to throw it.

"It's one thing to throw a curveball in an 0-2 count and not care where it goes and not have to worry about if this is going to be a strike, but to get that third pitch where I can throw it first pitch in the count for a strike, I need that confidence to be able to throw it there.

"I just want to get into the bullpens, find a grip that I like, and find a way to throw it that will work out for me."

A substandard curveball was not the only negative aspect hidden behind his brilliant numbers though in 2012. Spotty fastball command and a dip in velocity were two other issues that plagued him all season long.

"I feel really good going into spring," he said now that he's healthy again. "I feel like this offseason with the lifting and stuff went really well. I have a strikeout pitch now with my changeup. It has come a long way and I have a lot of confidence in it that I can throw it in any count.

"Hopefully my velocity comes back up and the biggest thing I'll focus on this year and this spring is just keep the ball down, hit my spots inside and outside. That's the biggest thing, just keeping the ball down."

The scary part for opposing batters is that as good as he was in his debut season, including limiting batters to a paltry .204 average, he really could have been so much better and that is a really good sign of his long-term potential.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2012

GCL Yankees

3-0

0

27.2

21

4

25

0.98



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. When Cote first signed his four-seam fastball sat mostly in the 90-94 mph range with a heavy downward plane to it. However, his fastball sat more in the 88-90 mph range during his debut season and he was unable to consistently use his 6-foot-5 frame to his advantage, often times leaving fastballs in the upper-half of the strike zone. Now that he's healthy again not only do most expect the velocity to creep back up to his normal range, but he also has the body type to gain even more strength in the coming years and perhaps could even add more speed to his fastball down the road.

Other Pitches. Cote favored his curveball as his main strikeout pitch in high school but things have quickly changed for him. His curveball is wildly inconsistent now as he has changed grips multiple times in the past year plus, and his velocity has fluctuated as a result too. When he snaps good ones they show plus potential but the command of it is even more inconsistent than the break right now. His go-to secondary pitch is his circle-palm changeup, a pitch he now uses as his primary strikeout weapon. It not only shows fade and depth, but it gets a lot of run to it and it's extremely difficult for batters to barrel the baseball.

Pitching. The current pitching version of Cote -- one who attacks the upper-half of the strike zone with his fastball and then pounds the lower-half with his changeup -- is probably not the one he'll be in the coming years. He's at his best when he pitches consistently with a good downhill plane and pounds the lower-half of the strike zone with all of his pitches. His mechanics are quite good for such a young and tall pitcher, but his release point still needs a lot of work and he still needs to settle on a curveball grip that he feels comfortable with. While there is a lot of work to do, the good news is that Cote is athletic enough to where it should not be a long-term issue.

Projection. Right now Cote projects best as a middle to back-end big league starting pitcher someday, mostly due to his physically imposing size and advanced changeup. He still has considerable work to do, however, on developing his curveball into a more reliable secondary pitch for that projection to become more of a reality. Considering his changeup was pretty much non-existent when he first signed, there is real hope that the 20-year old could see similar progress with his curveball in due time. Should that happen, able to turn his curveball into a plus offering, and if he could start tapping his big-bodied frame into more of a plus type fastball, his ceiling could be even higher down the road. For now though there's some work to be done.

ETA. N/A. Since his draft selection Cote was always considered more of project in the short-term that could eventually pay long-term dividends and because of that he is most likely destined for the short-season leagues again in 2013. If the curveball comes sooner rather than later he could be headed for Staten Island and if it doesn't he could find himself back in the Gulf Coast League for some more seasoning.

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