The Pirates' and the nation's top pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft was bumped up Friday from Class A Bradenton to Altoona, where he will make his Double-A debut on Wednesday.
Cole, the Pirates' No. 2 prospect and No. 8 overall prospect according to MLB.com, has pretty much aced his first professional test: Thursday night's start of five shutout innings, lowering his ERA with the Marauders to 2.55, fourth-lowest in the Florida State League.
With his 69 strikeouts in 67 innings, Cole was also third in the league with a strikeout rate of 9.27 per nine innings.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle got enough of a Spring Training look at the prized righty to understand the quick promotion.
"He's a young man who is highly motivated and highly skilled," Hurdle said. "He was probably in a league where he didn't get many punches thrown back. When you get to a place where you're continually better, you want to make sure you can rise to a level that is more challenging. I think that's what we've done."
Thursday night's win over Fort Myers was Cole's fifth of the season in six decisions.
Fellow right-hander Jameson Taillon, the Pirates' top prospect and No. 5 overall, is 3-6 in 13 starts with an ERA of 4.52. Taillon, the Pirates' first-round pick in 2010, was having a comparably solid season until being lit up for 20 runs in 19 1/3 innings in his last four starts.