Jharel Cotton is already looking like an A’s gem

Rich Hill has yet to take the mound and Josh Reddick is batting just .125.

While the two former Oakland Athletic standouts have yet to make and impact on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ postseason push, one of the three prospects Oakland got in return in demanding a major league call-up.

Pitcher Jharel Cotton has allowed just seven hits and one run in 15 innings as a member of the A’s Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds. En route to his second win in as many starts with the team, the 24-year-old righty came within one out of a perfect game on Tuesday.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin said he had heard the news of the outing mere minutes after his own team’s game — a 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles:

“It’s good to see. When you make a trade like that, you’d certainly like to see our guys do well when they get here.”

Doing well is an understatement, regarding Cotton’s success thus far in the organization.

In his 15 frames he has added 17 to his already Pacific Coast League-leading strikeout total — now 136 in just 112-1/3 innings (10.9 per nine). Even more impressive, however, is that he has issued just one walk, giving him 33 for the season. His 4.1 strikeouts per walk is identical to that of the Atlanta Braves All-Star ace Julio Teheran — His 1.07 WHIP is comparable to San Francisco Giants All-Star Johnny Cueto.

The only measurable that doesn’t match the St. Thomas, Virgin Islands native’s dominance is his 4.33 season ERA. That number is misleading, though, with the PCL being among the most hitter-friendly divisions in minor league baseball — proof of that lies in his No. 16 ranking among the league’s hurlers.

With Hill (9-3, 2.25 ERA) still nursing a blister on his throwing hand, and Reddick (.276/.346/.411 slash combined between Oakland and Los Angels) having gone just 4-for-32, the A’s role as the winner in the trade has grown precipitously. Especially considering the Cotton was viewed as the low-level of the talent received.

He doesn’t have the triple-digit velocity of Grant Holmes (8-5, 4.20 ERA at High-A in 2016), now listed as the No. 3 prospect in the A’s system according to MLB.com, or Frankie Montas (0-0, 2.25 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A), who also features a short but successful stint in the big leagues. What he does feature is a mid-90’s fastball and a plus-changeup.

The No. 16 ranked prospect in the Oakland farm also proved that he is mentally capable of a promotion.

With one out in the ninth inning of his recent perfecto bid, he struck out Texas Ranger prospect Kyle Kubitza (.220/.322/.354) looking. The outfielder was ejected after he refused to stand down, then took nearly four minutes to depart the field. The result of the extended delay was a two-out, perfect-game ending triple by Doug Bernier (.270/.333/.420).

Said Melvin:

“Impressive outing. With two outs in the ninth, the hitter gets thrown out of the game and took a while to get down the line, and the next thing you know there’s a (triple).”

Facing the adversity, pitching from the stretch for the first time — with a runner at third, no less — and clinging to a three-run lead Cotton collected his emotions along with his 12th strikeout of the night, to finish the one-hit shutout.

With the skipper forced to use any and all options in order to dill all five rotation spots, Cotton could be on the mound in green and gold before Hill is in Dodger Blue.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.