February 24, 2014
When baseball players enter their first full season, they’re excited but often pay attention to how their bodies will hold up from spring to fall. The transition from short-season ball to a full year can be an easier one if the player has the right attitude along with great coaching, and right-handed pitcher Taylor Cole had both in 2013.
Entering last season after a breakout 2012 campaign in the Northwest League where he was named Topps Northwest League Player of the Year, Cole stayed humble and knew he had a lot to learn in the Midwest League. The right-hander really enjoyed working with the Lugnuts’ coaching staff, a group that helped him find a daily routine to stay on top of his game.
“My body has held up great in my first full season. Its credit to our strength and conditioning coach Jason Dowse he’s great he’s always there to help you and push you,” he said. “I also enjoyed working with athletic trainer Drew MacDonald. The coaching staff in Lansing does a great job at making sure you’re prepared for every game in a full season.”
Another aspect Cole improved on in 2013 was incorporating the fastball into his game more often. The 23-year-old pitcher liked the way the fastball complemented his other pitches.
“I feel my secondary pitches, which are my slider and changeup, are very good pitches which can bring me a lot of success but a pitcher’s success can be maximized by throwing the fastball.” Cole explained. “When I throw my fastball it makes my other two pitches that much better. I am trying to throw my fastball in appropriate counts which can be devastating to hitters and more than just good pitching on my part.”
Incorporating the fastball more was a change implemented by Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman. The former major leaguer felt the change was necessary for Cole to have continued success at higher levels.
“Taylor was transforming his game this past season.” stated Horsman. “We’re trying to get him to throw his fastball more. Taylor has a very good changeup, but sometimes he overexposes it and I’m trying to get him to use his fastball more which will help him as he moves up the levels.”
Cole was a major contributor in the Lugnuts’ rotation this past season. The Las Vegas native pitched 132 innings, posting a 7-11 record to go with a 4.02 ERA, 101 strikeouts, and a 1.52 WHIP. In fact, Cole led all Lugnuts pitchers in strikeouts and finished second on the team in wins and WHIP.
“I learned a lot in 2013,”stated Cole. “Vince Horsman thought me how to incorporate the fastball more into my game and work off that. Vince has helped in making sure I don’t throw too much or too little and stay strong which is good for my first full season. It’s a long season and he’s been through it with guys and through it himself. He made sure I didn’t overdo it my first full year and I’m thankful for that.”
Cole’s success in the Midwest League earned him a promotion to the Advanced-A Dunedin in August. Appearing in one game for the D-Jays, Cole pitched five innings and collected two strikeouts while allowing only one earned run. It’s an experience the right-hander will remember going forward in his career.
Cole completed a busy off-season split between taking classes at Brigham Young University in the fall and returning home to work with a trainer in the winter as he prepared for a better 2014.
“In the off-season I’m planning on doing weight training. I’m planning on shutting my arm down for a little bit. I’m more focused on adding weight.” he said. “In the fall I’m planning on chipping away at my degree and take a couple classes at BYU then I’m going back to my house in Las Vegas with my wife to do some conditioning with a private trainer to prepare for 2014.”