A.J. Cole's gem a good sign of things to come

The high Single-A Potomac Nationals have shown early that their starting pitching is going to keep them in games. Left-hander Robbie Ray has been consistent from the beginning sporting a 1.85 ERA, and leads the team with 41 strikeouts. Taylor Jordan has pitched the most innings so far at 36 1/3, going 2-1 with a 1.24 ERA. Taylor Hill is 3-1 in five starts, with a 2.43 ERA.

And then there is the return of right-hander A.J. Cole. He was traded to the Oakland A's last offseason. After struggling a bit in the high Single-A California League, Cole settled down and started to get rolling.

This season, back in the comfortable surroundings of the team that drafted him from, he is beginning to show his stuff again that the Nationals expected.

May 3 was his best start of the young season. Cole picked up his first win of the season against Myrtle Beach, going six innings, allowing four hits, no runs, no walks and a season-high nine strikeouts. Cole has 34 strikeouts on the season, including 16 punchouts his last 12 innings.

With Cole, alongside Sammy Solis and Matt Purke (expected hopefully to return by June 1), it will be good to have more than a handful of top pitching prospects healthy at the same time. The parent Nationals like to have that pitching depth after trading a few of them (Brad Peacock, Tommy Milone, Alex Meyer, etc.) the last two seasons.

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