Cole Waites, RHP
BATS: R / THROWS: R
ACQUIRED: Drafted 2019, 18th Round
LAST LEVEL: Low-A
GiantFutures 2022 Ranks: #9 Relief Pitcher
Performance: Waites has had only short appearances in his pro career, but his promise has shown through. He was drafted late, in the 18th round of 2019, and worked as a “Starter” in the AZL in 2019 (though he averaged just about two innings an appearance). Waites had a 6.23 ERA, giving up 17 hits and 13 walks in 17.1 innings, but he also struck out 28.
Most of 2021 for Waites was spent recovering from a torn meniscus, and he didn’t debut until August 3rd in the ACL. Waites made just three appearances before going to San Jose, where he had a 0.87 ERA in 10 relief appearances, striking out 24 and walking just four in 10.1 innings. Waites got extra time in the Arizona Fall League, but he struggled against more advanced hitting, posting a 16.20 ERA in ten appearances, where he struck out 11 and walked eight, allowing nine hits, in 8.1 innings.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Velocity, velocity, velocity. Cole Waites has been rated by Baseball America as the best fastball in the Giants system. Waites fits the traditional late round power pitcher pickup. He throws in the high-90’s with movement, and can scrap triple digits. He spent 2020 working on a slider to pair that fastball with, and clearly the numbers he put up in a short amount of time showed it work.
The downside, of course, is that control. It’s hard to make judgements with small sample sizes, but his regular season in 2021 showed a marked improvement from his brief 2019, and then he had trouble again in the AFL. This might be an indication that bad hitters helped Waites out at the lower levels, but his control may shake out to be between the two levels.
One side part about Waite’s control not being sharp is that he isn’t good at working the edges of the zone consistently. When Waites is at his best, he doesn’t give up hits, but when he’s not, he gives up a lot of hits as he grooves his fastball into the heart of the zone.
2022 Outlook: Waites getting a call to the Arizona Fall League definitely shows the Giants interest in him, so he’ll likely start 2022 in High-A Eugene. Waites clearly needs to work with his control and more advanced hitting, and perhaps most importantly stay healthy.
Future Profile: High-90’s fastballs can generally lead to closer potential, but Waites profile with his spotty control is more of a high-velocity setup man who has a bit of wildness.