By STEVE KRAH
Effective pitching can be compared to real estate.
It’s all about location, location, location.
Cole Bartlett learned to locate his two-seam fastball more during his final college baseball season and carried it over into his first professional campaign.
Bartlett, a 6-foot-2 right-hander and 2013 Hagerstown (Ind.) High School graduate, finished up his playing days at the University of Missouri and was selected in the 25th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After four varsity seasons at Hagerstown, including winning 10 games as a senior, Bartlett appeared in two contests as a Missouri freshman in 2014. That summer, he pitched for the Sedalia (Mo.) Bombers of the MINK League. He tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm and had Tommy John reconstructive surgery August 2014.
Rehabilitation time kept him off the mound for about a year. He was a medical redshirt at Missouri in the spring of 2015 and resumed pitching in practices and intrasquad games that fall.
Bartlett went 3-5 with three saves and a 3.90 earned run average, 26 strikeouts and 11 walks in 55 1/3 innings over 31 appearances (28 in relief) in 2016. That summer, he pitched for the Plymouth Pilgrims in the Northeast Collegiate Baseball League.
In 2017, he went 6-3 with a 3.19 ERA, 53 strikeouts and 22 walks 79 innings over 19 appearances (14 in relief).
After the draft, he made one-inning stint with Arizona League Diamondbacks then was sent to the Missoula Osprey of the short-season Pioneer League. He went 1-0 with four saves and a 2.53 ERA, 30 strikeouts and four walks in 32 innings over 21 appearances (all in relief).
“It went pretty well,” says Bartlett of his first pro season. “I put put up some good numbers, got good experience and gained a lot of knowledge.”
One thing he learned is that the tempo of the game is faster in the minors than it is in college — even in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference.
“In college, we played more small ball and bunted runners over,” says Bartlett. “Pro ball is really not like that. Everyone is swinging the majority of the time.”
It also becomes more serious when players begin getting paid to play.
“Everything is on you,” says Bartlett. “if you don’t want to get better that’s on you. You really have to take initiative of your own career.”
Since Bartlett had already logged a substantial amount of innings in the spring, the Diamondbacks restricted his use in the summer. The rule for him and other rookies was one day of rest for each inning thrown.
“I was pretty max effort every time I went out there, especially out of the pen,” says Bartlett. “I would sit 88 to 92 mph. My fastball gets a lot of movement. It’s basically a sinker.”
Hallmark was his pitching coach at Missouri for one season. Former Tigers head coach Tim Jamieson handled the pitchers in Bartlett’s second and third seasons and Matt Hobbs was pitching coach his freshman year.
“(Hobbs) told me, ‘Never turn your back to the hitter. Show them you’re confident,” says Bartlett. “(Jamieson) worked with me on my change-up.”
Bartlett remembers that Michael believed in discipline.
“We had to run strong to first base and do everything right,” says Bartlett. “That’s what stuck with me.”
A catcher and shortstop when he was not pitching, Bartlett remembers that Catey liked to play small ball.
Being a pitcher only, he never got a chance to hit at Missouri.
Did he miss it?
“I did,” says Bartlett. “But after seeing guys throw 100, I was OK with not hitting.”
Bartlett played from T-ball through age 12 at Hagerstown Little League then with the Centerville (Ind.) Yard Dogs travel team. He attracted the attention of the Dayton (Ohio) Classics and was asked to try out. He ended up playing for them in the summer the rest of his high school days.
The youngest of Charlie and Rhonda Bartlett’s three children, Cole earned a degree in agribusiness management at Missouri.
“I’ll fall into that once baseball is done,” says the 23-year-old.
Brother Lex, who is four years older than Cole and a former Hagerstown baseball player, earned an agribusiness management degree at Purdue University and now works for Crop Production Services in Williamsburg, Ind., near Hagerstown. The Bartlett boys grew up on a 600-acre farm.
Their sister, Connor Allen, attended Indiana University-Bloomingtoin and IU-East in Richmond is now an elementary teacher in the Shenandoah (Ind.) school system.
Cole is spending the off-season in Longmont, Colo., the hometown of fiancee Sophia Mastronardi (a 2017 Mizzou graduate).
He has been working out and recently began throwing at Extra Innings Longmont as he prepares to report for spring training in Glendale, Ariz.
Cole Bartlett, a graduate of Hagerstown High School and the University of Missouri, is now a pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. (Missoula Osprey Photo)