August 11, 2011 |

Argh! State says ballplayer is pirate; Troopers hook MLB's top pick

The top pick in this year’s Major League Baseball draft apparently struck out on a recent visit to Haines, tallying $305 in fines for snagging in freshwater, using an illegal weighted hook and failing to possess a personal flotation device aboard a boat.

According to a news release from the Alaska Department of Public Safety, Alaska Wildlife Troopers on July 26 received a report of a group snagging sockeye salmon in Clear Creek near the mouth of the Chilkat River. Gerrit Cole, 20, of Santa Ana, Calif., was among five people cited.

"I know the violations were filmed, with one of our employees on a stakeout," said Lt. Steve Hall of the Alaska Wildlife Troopers.

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Cole as the first pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft. The pitcher played college baseball for the University of California, Los Angeles, where he ranked second in career strikeouts at the school.

Cole’s profile at www.uclabruins.com lists his father’s name as Mark Cole. The website www.courtrecords.alaska.gov shows a 55-year-old Mark Cole also was cited in Haines, for snagging in freshwater and failing to possess a personal flotation device, leading to a $195 fine.

Other offenders in Haines on July 26 were Zak Doan, 36; Ben Strack, 38; and Alex Horeczko, 42; all of California. Doan was fined $195, Horeczko, $120 and Strack, $60. All lacked a flotation device; Doan also was cited for snagging and Horeczko allegedly failed to register the boat he was operating.

"In places where fish congregate, it is pretty common to have snagging violations, especially in kind of out of the way places, where the likelihood of getting caught is pretty low," Hall said. "There are some people who just don’t know the rules, and may not be intentionally violating."

Both Doan and Strack are listed on the website for Proball Baseball, and Gerrit Cole is named as a client for the Santa Ana business that offers "baseball training for mind and body."

Doan is described on the website as Proball’s owner and pitching instructor, and a former professional player with the Florida Marlins organization. Strack’s online profile says he is co-owner, and "senior hitting and mental game instructor."

Hall said state wildlife trooper Rick Merritt is handling the case in Haines. Merritt was out of the office this week and unavailable for comment.

"I don’t know specifics about who these people are or what they do in California," Hall said.

A Wednesday blog post from the Pittsburg Post-Gazette said Cole was seeking a $15 million contract with the Pirates.