Waterfront Park will serve as the grand stage for arguably the most anticipated pitching matchup of the season in all of minor league baseball tonight when the Trenton Thunder(64-44) welcome in the Altoona Curve (54-53) for a three game series. Gerrit Cole, the first overall selection in last seasons amateur draft will be on the hill for Altoona opposing Thunder all-star ace, Brett Marshall.
Cole is widely regarded as one of the game’s premiere pitching prospects; ranked number eight overall by Baseball America (BA) prior to this season on the games top 100 prospect list. Cole is the crown jewel of the Pittsburgh Pirates highly regarded farm system and enters tonight’s game having posted a 2-4 record with a 4.85 ERA through his first six AA starts.
Prior to his promotion in mid-June, Cole dominated the Florida State League, going 5-1 with a 2.55 ERA while overmatching hitters with over a strikeout per inning (69/67) and holding them to a .217 batting average in 13 starts.
Cole features an over powering fastball with mid to high 90’s velocity and a devastating backdoor slider that makes it extremely difficult for hitters to make consistent contact against the righty.
Marshall was given the starting nod in the Eastern League All-Star Game for the Eastern Division after a dominant first half for the Thunder. Ranked as the Yankees 11th best prospect by BA heading into the season, Marshall has been nothing short of brilliant in living up to that prime billing. Sitting at 11-4 overall through 20 starts, Marshall is the league leader in wins and ranks third in ERA with a 2.90 mark.
As a side attraction to this main event, Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain is also slated to see action on the mound as he continues his return to the Major Leagues after suffering both shoulder and ankle injuries. Chamberlain pitched 1 1/3 innings this past Sunday in the series finale against Harrisburg and struck out three batters while showcasing a sharp curveball.
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman stated yesterday that Joba is very close to rejoining the big club so this very well may be his final appearance with Trenton.