If Garrett Cooper‘s inaugural 2013 campaign with the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization is any indication, the former Auburn first baseman could rapidly progress through the system.
Cooper, 23, was selected as the Brewers’ sixth round pick in the 2013 draft and made an immediate impact with two blasts in his professional debut with Pioneer League Helena June 20.
However, his 2-for-5 game with the Helena Brewers did not come as a surprise to the 6’6” Cooper as he maintains his objective as a power hitter.
“I am trying to improve on that this off season and add strength through the off season to hit more home runs,” Cooper said.
Cooper’s tour of the country did not start nor end in the Rocky Mountain region after signing his professional contract out of the University of Auburn where he batted .354 with 12 doubles, seven home runs and 37 walks in 56 games his senior season.
“It was a fun experience, moving around the country. Growing up in California, moving to Auburn, moving to Helena,” Cooper said. “It’s been a whirlwind of geographic locations.”
Despite possessing power potential, the first baseman has demonstrated the ability to hit for average at the early portion of his professional career.
Cooper not only began his career with two home runs but also rattled off a five game hitting streak from June 20-24 where he went 9-for-20 and belted three home runs. He also had a .500 On Base Percentage.
The California native hit safely in ten of his 16 games with Helena before Milwaukee made the decision to promote him to Single A Wisconsin. Through his short time with the Helena Brewers, he tabulated a .357 OBP with four doubles, four home runs and ten RBI.
Cooper said his time with Helena “was a good experience” and prepared him for Midwest League Baseball and life
alongside a loaded Wisconsin outfield of Tyrone Taylor, Michael Reed, Victor Roache and Max Walla.
“It was fun playing with them and it was nice hitting in front of them in the lineup,” Cooper said. “It was also good protecting them in the lineup.”
Cooper underwent roadblocks during his time with Wisconsin after missing time due to injuries but was able to come through with similar success.
In 32 games for the Timber Rattlers, he collected his first three career triples along with six doubles and blasted two home runs. He produced a .287 average and .346 OBP.
Cooper acknowledged his need to become a stronger and more durable presence in the lineup and maintained the off season objective of adding weight.
“Just getting stronger and being more flexible. That was my goal coming into the senior year of college was to get stronger and add more weight,” Cooper said.
Cooper responded by arriving to early winter session February 8 with a weight of 235 compared to 230 in his first season and feels “bigger and stronger.”
The Auburn alum was among 24 Brewers’ farmhands invited to attend the Minor League winter session which includes notable prospects Tyrone Taylor, Tucker Neuhaus and Damien Magnifico.
“It’s like mini camp and its a good thing getting out there sooner than all the other guys that come in and prepare to play every single day,” Cooper said.
Brewers’ officials are also providing Cooper additional options in advancing through the minor league system after taking repetitions at third base during the Fall Instructional League in October 2013.
“In high school it was the only time I ever played third base and little bit in junior college,” Cooper said.
He is looking at it as another opportunity to move forward and remains confident in his abilities at third base when needed.
“At third you have to get used to it and get back to the throwing across the diamond in every play at the hot corner,” Cooper said. “There is not much difference between first and third besides the throw.”
“Whatever they decide I will be happy with every chance I get. Just glad to be a part of the organization,” Cooper added.
Cooper told Brewers Farm Report he was surprised Milwaukee snagged him in the draft after receiving phone calls from two different organizations.
“The Brewers were definitely into my stuff. I talked to the Royals and Phillies a half an hour before I got drafted,” Cooper said. “The Royals and Phillies told me I was there next picks and all of sudden my name got popped up with the Brewers.”
Cooper credits his family for giving him unconditional support on maintaining his mission to become a professional baseball player and for preparing him for life traveling around the country.
“I grew up as the young kid and they are all pushing for me. I am the youngest, I am the baby and they are all just looking out for me,” Cooper said. “They are always there for me and give me whatever support I need.”
The youngest of seven children, he is grateful for his older siblings in taking the time out of their lives to play catch in the backyard of their California home during his childhood.
In addition to growing up along the California coasts where he also played beach volleyball, he has more than just Auburn as a southern connection.
Cooper gained early exposure to the Southern portion of the United States when he noted his mother being a part of the Louisiana community during times of her life.
“She took me down to the south a lot and I loved it down here,” Cooper said. “I have been all around the country to play baseball since I was a young kid.”