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Sulser has built himself up into an intriguing prospect to watch

Sulser has built himself up into an intriguing prospect to watch
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Cole Sulser has always valued baseball and education. He's fortunate to have his priorities in order, because for him, the former may not exist without the latter.

Sulser, 23, is a California native but spent five years on the east coast attending Dartmouth College. He knew he wanted to play baseball in college and when Dartmouth reached out to him, he knew he'd found the right place.

"Academics have always been a big part of my life, as well as baseball," Sulser said. "Dartmouth allowed me to pursue a good education and play D1 baseball."

Sulser majored in Mechanical Engineering at Dartmouth but constructed a formidable reputation on the baseball diamond. There, he was named an All-Ivy League pitcher with a career 20-6 record, the second most wins in Dartmouth history.

The right-hander's junior season in 2011 was severed short as an elbow injury led to Tommy John surgery. Timing is everything, and Sulser knew he'd have to alter his plans if he wanted to continue his baseball career.

"As a pitcher, you never want to hear you have to have elbow surgery,” he said. “I knew I would have to miss my senior year, which made me an unlikely draft candidate."

The result was an additional year of college.

His red shirt senior season proved to be beneficial. In the final days leading to his graduation from Dartmouth, he learned he had been drafted in the 25th round by the Cleveland Indians. Without hesitation, Sulser signed.

"I knew I definitely wanted to sign," he said. "Baseball's one of those things where if I have the opportunity to play, I want to play it as long as possible."

The threshold to what Sulser hopes is a long career began with the short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley Scrappers last season. Sulser said he knew his time there would make a good transition to professional ball, where he wasn't used to spending all day and every day at the field. There, he could focus on baseball without outside distractions.

Sulser focused on his secondary pitches, seeking to maintain consistency with them. His arsenal consists of a fastball, change-up, slider, and curve repertoire, pitches he wasn't afraid to use.

"I tried to go right after hitters," he noted. "I didn't want to sit there and try to be too fine and end up with a bunch of walks and put runners on base. My biggest strategy was to rely on what I knew how to do and go after guys."

Opponents seemed to spend more time on the bench than on the base paths against Sulser. He posted a 1.83 ERA with 37 hits allowed and a 6.7 strikeout to walk ratio through 15 games with the Scrappers. Though he toggled between a starting and relieving role, his relief spot retained a five-day piggy-back rotation.

He said he isn't sure what the organization's plans for him are, but he'll fill any role he can.

"Either way, I'm happy to play and happy to pitch," he said.

Now, Sulser has his sights set on his first professional spring training, where he hopes to continue the consistent success he saw last year. He said he plans to continue working on his offspeed pitches and simply hopes to be competitive every time he takes the mound.

He's spent the offseason at home in California working for a construction company and training for the upcoming season. He may have set his Mechanical Engineering degree on the backburner, but he's already designing the blueprint for a successful baseball career.

Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.

User Comments

Jane Davis
January 9, 2014 - 5:51 PM EST
Cole is my Grandson. Can say that he has played baseball summer and winter since he was big enough to pick up a ball. It has been his dream. But the sport went hand in hand with a good education...something that too many young sports enthusiasts seem to forget is important. In addition, he spends his time with other young ball players in helping them to improve their fame. He's truly a young man to be proud of.....
January 5, 2014 - 12:01 PM EST
Was Sulser one of combined pitchers that threw a no hitter for MHV last year? If he is legit would help provide depth to major league club within 1 -2 yrs. Could be a fast riser like Cody Allen.
Joe Chengery
January 4, 2014 - 11:32 PM EST
Just as in the Majors, the ERA doesn't matter as much as the peripherals (H/IP, BB/IP, K/IP, K/BB rates, etc). His age of 23 is a bit concerning, though the fact he lost a year in college because of TJ surgery gives him a small window to impress; if he can handle it, he'd probably be on the fast track.

I, too, would be curious about his velocity and his late movement, especially in regards to what it is now and what it was before TJ, whether it has returned to previous levels or even improved a bit. I must echo the others when saying, "Great article Steph- keep up the great writing."
January 3, 2014 - 8:11 AM EST
Is a 1.87 ERA at the Single A level considered good for a 23-year-old who pitched four years in college?

At least he's had his Tommy John surgery done, so he can get on with his career without interruptions. As a 25th round pick I'm not going to be paying much attention to him until he earns a promotion to high A and puts up some impressive numbers.
January 2, 2014 - 3:55 PM EST
According to the November 15th depth chart Tony did, Cole Sulser is expected to piggyback with Sean Brady at Lake County (Low A) to start off the 2014 season.
I agree good article. Looks like Stephanie has a great future in her career.
January 2, 2014 - 1:30 PM EST
Thanks Stephanie! Nice piece. These articles on the lower-profile minor leaguers are great.

I'm curious, how hard was he throwing at Mahoning Valley last summer? and where is he likely to start the year in 2014?

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