How Cole, Higashioka thanked the Yankees scout who helped bring them together

6:55 PM ET

Marly RiveraESPN Writer


Marly Rivera is a writer for and

SAN DIEGO — Gerrit Cole‘s success in collaborating with New York Yankees backup catcher Kyle Higashioka continues to be closely dissected.

But a simple gesture may offer a telling glimpse into the nature of their bond.

More than a decade ago, Cole and Higashioka, both Southern California natives, were scouted by Yankees talent evaluator David Keith. Keith, who also drafted former backup catcher Austin Romine, was the scout responsible for the Yankees selecting Cole and Higashioka in the 2008 draft.

It would take another 12 years for the pitcher whom general manager Brian Cashman has called his “white whale” to make his debut in pinstripes.

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After declining to sign in 2008 out of Orange Lutheran High School, Cole had a brilliant career at UCLA. He was the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ No. 1 overall pick in 2011 and went on to become their No. 1 starter. The Pirates traded Cole to the Houston Astros in 2018, and he took his game to yet another level, becoming one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers.

A week before Christmas last year,

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