In a season when Southern League pitchers have had the upper hand on the batters, the Shuckers’ Garrett Cooper has been one of the league’s most consistent producers at the plate.
Cooper is batting .311, ranking him fifth in the league. The Shuckers’ second best batter at the moment is Jacob Nottingham, who has seen his batting average rise to .259 in recent weeks.
While center fielder Brett Phillips and Nottingham garner most of the attention from national observers, it’s Cooper who has proven the toughest out in Biloxi this season.
Cooper batted above .300 in each of his four seasons of college baseball and those numbers have carried over as a pro after he became a sixth-round selection by the Brewers in 2013.
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“I’m just taking each at-bat and not letting one at-bat affect the next one,” Cooper said. “I’m just seeing pitches up and attacking your pitches, just doing anything I can do to get on the base.”
Cooper was named a Southern League All-Star on Wednesday.
Cooper has yet to hit a home run this season, but he ranks second on the Shuckers in slugging percentage at .422 thanks to a team-leading 16 doubles, a total good enough for fourth in the Southern League.
“I go for hard line drives and try not to get down on myself too much,” Cooper said. “I don’t to try hit home runs or anything. I’m staying on the ball and driving the pitch through the middle.”
Cooper has shown uncommon versatility in the field this season for a man who stands 6-foot-6, 230 pounds. He has regularly switched between left field, right field and first base. In the Shuckers’ 6-2 loss to Mississippi in 14 innings on June 1, Cooper played all three positions.
That marked the first game that he’s ever played three positions in one night, but he still managed to finish 4-of-6 at the plate.
Cooper, who also has some experience at third base, has committed only one error in the field this season and has four assists from the outfield.
“As you move up, it gives you an opportunity to play different positions,” Cooper said. “To get to the big leagues or the next level, just being more versatile is nice and it helps the Brewers.
“It’s baseball. You do anything you can to help.”
A native of Manhattan Beach, Calif., Cooper played his first two college seasons at El Camino Community College in Torrance, Calif.
He then decided to make the 2,200-mile trek to Auburn, where he had a pair of standout seasons for the Tigers. Cooper batted .324 with five homers and 31 RBIs as a junior and followed that up with a .354 average and seven a senior.
“When I was in junior college, they just gave me a scholarship,” Cooper said. “I went down for a football game against LSU and I just fell in love with the school.”