We're getting to that time of the season where the anticipation of prospect call-ups begins to swell, especially for those moves we know are inevitable. After all, the savior-in-waiting everyone knows is going to be the missing piece for said team is just too exciting to think about.
But for two of the games top pitching prospects, that time is not now.
Cole is closer than Gausman. As Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com points out, Cole's time in Triple-A this season was thought to be more of a formality than anything with any actual substance. It was thought to be nothing more than a place to stay loose while waiting for the Super 2 barrier of his service time to pass by, like a race car forced to idle in pit row for speeding through too quickly.
But a funny thing happened while Cole was idling in Indianapolis - he struggled. It turns out, he had a few more things to learn before he came to save the day in Pittsburgh.
As Williams illustrates, Cole is struggling with his command in the International League and isn't missing bats the way he should with his stuff. This isn't a new problem for Cole (although his high walk numbers this season are a new, and likely temporary, blip on the radar), but I pointed out almost a year ago while scouting Cole in his Double-A debut that he failed to dominate his competition the way he should with his ability.
Cole is having a strange season, with increased walk numbers, dramatically lowered strikeout numbers, yet an ERA of just 2.55 thanks to a fortunate BABIP of just .230 and a strand rate of 83.7 percent. Neither of those last two numbers is sustainable, hence his 4.45 FIP, easily a career high.
The Pirates probably won't hesitate to call Cole up in a month or so, although if his struggles continue, the Pirates likely won't be forced, thanks to a number of additional starting pitching options in addition to their current rotation.
The Orioles, on the other hand, don't have that type of depth. Thanks to injuries, their already relying on Freddy Garcia and Jair Jurrjens in their rotation, a plan that doesn't seem likely to end well. There was speculation that Gausman would be called up to take one of the open spots in the Orioles rotation, but Eduardo Encina of The Baltimore Sun says that he's not being considered.
Which is probably the correct decision. It's not that Gausman hasn't pitched well, but he still has just 12 professional starts to his name after just two seasons at LSU.
Like Cole, however, it's not incorrect to believe that Gausman could be in the majors at some point this season, although Cole should beat him by a few months. Gausman could help the Orioles down the stretch if the organization stretches his innings out properly over the course of the year and isn't forced to shut him down early. Bu September, he could be one of the only healthy Orioles pitchers left, in addition to being one of the most talented.
But for now, Gausman won't be heading to the majors, seemingly no matter how desperate the pitching situation gets in Baltimore.