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
Jharel Cotton made 29 starts for the Oakland Athletics over two seasons. He blew out his arm in 2018 and eventually came back to the majors with the Texas Rangers in 2021. His brother is Jamaine Cotton.
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 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings and 4-3, 2.49, 74 strikeouts in 65 innings) in junior college. T he New York Mets selected him in the 28th round of the 2011 draft, but he kept on trucking, signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a 20th rounder in 2012; 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 instead, going 8-3, 3.65 while earning second-team All-Conference USA honors.
Jharel 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, striking out 138 batters in 126 2/3 innings. 2015 saw him with four different teams, as he had some mid-year rehab assignments. He spent his biggest chunk of time with the Tulsa Drillers of the AA Texas League, and altogether, his record was a solid 6-2, 2.45 in 21 games. In 2016, Jharel was with the Oklahoma City Dodgers of the Pacific Coast League, awaiting the call to the bigs. In 22 games, including 16 starts, he was 8-5, 4.90 with 119 strikeouts in 97 1/3 innings, during which he allowed only 80 hits.
On August 1st, Cotton was traded to Oakland along with fellow prospects Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas for two established major leaguers, pitcher Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick. He quickly showed his new organization how good he was. On August 9th, he came within one out of pitching a perfect game. Now with the Nashville Sounds, he retired the first 26 Round Rock Express batters he faced before journeyman 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. Cotton 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. 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 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, 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. Despite the high ERA, he was considered a future ace, 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. He spent 2019 in the minors, undergoing hamstring surgery while spending time at several levels. The A's sent him to the Chicago Cubs in November.