Former BYU pitcher Taylor Cole hopes baseball will take him back to where he served an LDS mission
This time Cole signed with the team that drafted him and immediately was assigned to the organization’s short-season affiliate in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
“Playing pro ball is just something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “I had already gone through the process and went on my mission, so I was a little bit older. I just wanted to get out and play and said, ‘Hey, why hold out for more money when I can kind of prove what player I am here playing professional baseball.’ ”
In his first year, Cole went 1-3 with a 5.88 ERA in 11 appearances that season. Cole performed considerably better the next season, going 6-0 with a 0.81 ERA in 12 appearances and 66 1/3 innings, which earned him a promotion to Lansing, Michigan, in the Midwest League by the end of the year.
Though Cole put up decent numbers with the Lansing Lugnuts, he didn’t put up quite the same numbers he has posted in Dunedin this year. For instance, he picked up 101 strikeouts in 132 innings with Lansing, while he already has 101 strikeouts in 49 fewer innings this year.
Cole said he started becoming more aggressive in his approach this season, pounding the strike zone and getting ahead in counts. In addition to improving his strikeout numbers, he’s improved his walk numbers. The righty had a robust 5.7-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio in the first half of this season compared to 1.7-to-1 in Lansing last year.
“I learned some things from last year,” he said. “I learned that I needed to attack guys with my fastball, which would open up — make my off-speed pitches better. Going after guys is my new mindset. I don’t want to walk anybody and I don’t want to nibble at them, I just want to go after them.”
At the same time, Dunedin has been winning games with and without Cole on the mound. The Blue Jays won the first half of the 2014 FSL season with a 46-23 record.
That kind of success carries a different atmosphere in the clubhouse, Cole said.
“Being in a winning environment has been a blessing and helped us all kind of raise our games,” he said. “We’re doing well. We don’t want to be the guy to let (the team) down. You want to keep riding that wave.”
The reward for his growing success and Dunedin’s winning ways was the starting nod in the FSL All-Star Game, where he even pitched on the same team as former University of Utah pitcher Tyler Wagner. Both pitchers tossed scoreless innings in the game.
“(Wagner) is actually a good friend of mine and we actually went out to dinner the other night when I was playing in Brevard County with my folks,” Cole said. “We never played together, but we went to the same high school and have been friends.”
The goal now is to build closer to the dream of making the majors, and maybe doing so by returning to Toronto.
The second half of the season has been more of a struggle for Cole. In three starts, he's allowed 23 hits, 17 runs (14 earned) and 12 strikeouts in 14 innings. His ERA has jumped to 3.23 on the year.
However, the righty is focusing on where’s he’s at now and improving on it.
“I don’t have any number goals or anything. Just want to work hard and have fun and be a good teammate,” he said. “Ultimately, I’d like to win a championship, whether I’m here or at another level.”
He’ll also be there to support his wife, who will begin law school at BYU in the baseball offseason.
“It’ll be a good opportunity for me to sacrifice a little bit and be there for her while she’s trying to achieve her dreams as well,” he said.
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