Yankees select Winnisquam (N.H.)'s Cote

Jordan Cote sat in front of his computer in the living room of his Sanbornton, N.H. home with a final exam in one hand (his teacher let him take it home), 20 or so friends gathered around (some of them cut class), and afternoon baseball practice an hour and half away.

And then, within the last half hour, things suddenly got crazy. The highly-touted Winnisquam Regional righthander watched his name come across the ticker, going 118th overall (third round) to the Yankees, and watched his mother flip out. Moments later, Yankees Northeaster Director of Scouting Matt Hyde called him up with a welcome greeting, and it was official.

"I'm a Yankees fan, so it couldn’t get any better," Cote said. "I don’t even know what to say…I couldn't have been going to a better team, but I don’t think I've ever been this happy in my entire life."

The Yankees had shown arguably the most interest in Cote for a while, but he said he got a little nervous when the phone didn't ring as things inched closer to the pick.

"I figured I'd get a call before, but evidently they don't do that," he laughed.

The past two months have been eye-opening for the 6-foot-6, 215-pounder, who was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year last week and has seen his stock soar, based on projectability and a fastball that continues to escalate in the 90's as the weather has gotten warmer. As many as two dozen scouts have been seen at his starts this spring.

And it's not over yet, as the Wolves will face Somersworth in the Class M semifinals Friday. Last season, he tossed a no-hitter against Somersworth to capture the school's first-ever state championship in baseball.

"It's been a pretty wild ride," Cote said.

Cote is currently committed to Coastal Carolina, but is reportedly very signable. In Sunday's profile of the prospect on ESPNBoston.com, he told correspondent Roger Brown "Money is definitely the No. 1 factor. I wish baseball could always be for fun, but that’s not the way it is."

Cote confirmed those comments again, saying that his advisor and the club have come to terms on an undisclosed number that both parties are "very comfortable with". He said with his busy schedule, it would be realistic to expect him to sign close to the August 15 deadline.

ESPN's Keith Law has Cote ranked No. 85 on his Top 100, with the following scouting report:

Cote is an extremely tall right-hander with present arm strength, and he's a virtual blank slate as a pitcher, having received limited instruction. His physical tools are a pitching coach's dream.

The New Hampshire native has been mostly 88-92 in cold weather all spring, with fringy off-speed stuff, mostly a mid-70s curveball that he needs to get on top of better. His mechanics need a cleanup, if not an overhaul; among other things he tends to get his back elbow up during his delivery, pinching his shoulders behind him and putting pressure on both joints.

He also might slide because like most New Hampshire kids, he's tough to scout between weather, short schedule, and poor competition. But he's pretty athletic and has very little pitching experience, so it's all projection with lots for a player development group to work with.

Last weekend, an American League scout gave me the following scouting report on Cote:

“He’s the one that’s been climbing the most. I’d say Cote was one that was kind of a sleeper early in the season. People had to wait and see what you get out of him, being in a Northern climate, playing on 35-degree days more so than Mass kids. Early on, he struggled, was hitting 87-88, then over the last two or three weeks, as the weather warmed up he found his groove. He’s really climbed into the upper echelon of high school prospects. You look at that frame, 6-6, 215, and there’s a lot of projectability. You could see him filling out to 240, and see that fastball velocity increase because of the hand speed he demonstrates."