FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In Gerrit Cole's previous start, he was good, allowing the Orioles only three baserunners in four innings.
On Saturday, Cole spent his four innings surrounded by baserunners.
"You saw a young man go out there to compete. He loves to compete, and he had opportunities to compete," manager Clint Hurdle said after Cole limited five Twins hits and two errors to one run in Saturday's 2-1 loss.
"I didn't have a lot of stuff out there today," said Cole, ranked by MLB.com as the Pirates' No. 1 prospect. "I had to go out there and compete. That's part of the game, to still put your team in the best spot. I had to pitch a lot more today, without that good stuff."
That merely enabled him to add to his good impressions, calling cards for his Major League baptismal -- eventually. Cole is likely to soon be rerouted to Minor League camp, but when he departs, it will be a classic case of "see you later" and not "goodbye." Each outing just whets the appetite.
It took Russell Martin only one in-game look to recognize, and appreciate, the 22-year-old who eliminates batters in Cole blood.
"He's really good," said Martin, who had caught Cole's prior start. "I've caught some really good ones, and I've been impressed -- with his stuff, his demeanor, his makeup on the mound. Stuff-wise, he has an electric arm and he knows how to use it.
"He's freakin' good. If he's not the best, he's right up there. He can really pitch. There'll be a learning curve there, learning how to deal with adversity, but I would not be surprised if that kid is one of the best in the game -- soon."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.