Jharel Leandre Cotton
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 180 lb.
- School Miami Dade South CC, East Carolina University
- High School Menchville High School
- Debut September 7, 2016
Cotton was 4-1 with 2 saves, a 0.76 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings as a high school senior. He had two solid years (4-2, 2.77, 62 K in 61 2/3 IP and 4-3, 2.49, 74 K in 65 IP) in junior college. The New York Mets selected him in the 28th round of the 2011 draft, but he did not turn pro. The Los Angeles Dodgers then took him in the 20th round of the 2012 draft; the scout was Clair Rierson. Previously the Dodgers had offered him a free agent contract at the end of summer 2011, but Cotton went to East Carolina University instead. He had a 8-3, 3.65 record for East Carolina. He was second-team All-Conference USA.
Cotton was coming off his junior year when the Dodgers drafted him and thus had a season of eligibility left. Nonetheless, he signed with L.A. and made his pro debut with the Ogden Raptors in 2012, going 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 5 appearances. In 2013, he was 2-7, 4.01 in 21 games (11 starts) for three different teams. In 2014, he spent the entire season with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League, going 6-10, 4.05 in 25 games. He struck out 138 batters in 126 2/3 innings that year. 2015 saw him with four different teams, as he had some mid-year rehabilitation assignments. He spent his biggest chunk of time with the Tulsa Drillers of the AA Texas League, and altogether, his record was a solid6-2, 2.45 in 21 games.
In 2016, Jharel was with the Oklahoma City Dodgers of the Pacific Coast League, awaiting the call to the Show. In 22 games, including 16 starts, he was 8-5, 4.90 with 119 Ks in 97 1/3 innings, during which he allowed only 80 hits. On August 1st, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics along with fellow prospects Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas, in return for two established major leaguers, P Rich Hill and OF Josh Reddick. He quickly showed his new organization how good he was, as on August 9th, he came within out out of pitching a perfect game. Now with the AAA Nashville Sounds, he had retired the first 26 Round Rock Express batters he faced before Doug Bernier tripled to right field with two outs in the 9th. His 26th out had been a strikeout of Kyle Kubitza, which the latter had protested, earning an ejection and causing a significant delay, which may have disrupted Jharel's rhythm. He then struck out the next batter to seal the 3-0 shutout. He was called up to Oakland when rosters expanded in September and made his debut on September 7th, starting against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 6 1/3 innings, he gave up a run on only 2 hits, one of them a solo homer by C.J. Cron to lead off the 7th, and he received credit for a 4-1 win. He went 2-0, 2.15 in 5 starts.
In 2017, he spent the majority of the season in the majors, making 24 starts for the Athletics, going 9-10, 5.58 while pitching 129 innings and striking out 105 batters. He also made 4 appearances for Nashville, going 3-0, 2.95. In spite of the high ERA in his rookie season, he was considered a future ace by the team, but he suffered a setback in spring training in 2018 as he went down with an elbow injury that was quickly diagnosed as a tear, necessitating Tommy John surgery and forcing him to miss the entire season.
His brother is Jamaine Cotton.