Athlete Close-up: Cole Stapler
February 23, 2017
Nicholls State University senior pitcher Cole Stapler was selected in the 35th round of the MLB draft in 2013 by the Miami Marlins, but decided not to sign, choosing to play in college instead.
“I think I was kind of in shock for the most part,” Stapler said. “It was the end of the third day [of the draft] and I wasn’t really expecting anything.”
According to Stapler, his mother watched the draft religiously and was the first to see his name pop up on the TV.
She was also the first person that called him, congratulating him just seconds before the Marlins called.
“It was a rush,” Stapler said. “I was kind of speechless at the time but I told them thank you for everything and it was an honor.”
Stapler decided not to sign with Miami and instead focused on getting his business degree.
If he is drafted again this year he said he intends to sign with a team, but if not, he is content with having his degree to fall back on.
“It’s a dream of mine and a goal to play professional baseball so if [Major League teams] call and give me the opportunity I’m going to sign,” Stapler said.
Stapler’s pitching repertoire features a 4 seam fastball that can reach 93 MPH as well as a straight changeup and slider that both sit in the low to mid 80’s.
Stapler’s fastball tends to get a lot of natural movement on it, and teammates tell him it’s difficult for them to hit in practice.
“It frustrates even my own hitters in inter-squad and everything when we play because they know I don’t throw straight,” Stapler said.
Stapler allowed just two home runs over 95.1 innings during the 2016 campaign, relying heavily on his slider and fastball to produce a lot of ground balls.
Even though Stapler carves up his teammates in practice, he said he is glad they are behind him when he toes the rubber in games.
“I love the defense I have behind me,” Stapler said. “I get ground balls, and they make plays for me. Our defense is phenomenal.”
Over the first two seasons of his collegiate career, Stapler pitched primarily out of the bullpen, appearing in 32 games [2 starts] and racking up 37 strikeouts in 48.2 innings.
After a successful stint in a summer league, Stapler won a spot in the rotation coming into his junior season.
“He’s been an anchor for us in the past,” Nicholls pitching coach Zach Butler said. “He brings a competitive nature to us that is one of the backbones of our team.”
Butler said for Stapler to be most effective he has to command his fastball on both sides of the plate and be able to throw his off-speed stuff for strikes more often.
“He’s really good at being able to cut it and sink it and those types of things,” Butler said. “He’s a guy that pitches down in the zone a lot and understands that being able to get the leadoff guy out is extremely important for us.”
Stapler said he tries to get the best out of his teammates and shows up to practice ready to work hard, keeping his dream of playing professionally in mind.
“I bring a lot of energy,” Stapler said. “I love motivating guys day in and day out. Whether we’re on or off the field, I’m an emotional guy and I want to push everybody as hard as they can and bring their full potential out of them.”
The 2017 MLB amateur draft takes place June 12-14, where Stapler hopes to be drafted.