The New York Yankees have promoted rookies aggressively in 2017 and the latest neophyte to arrive in the majors is first baseman Garrett Cooper. A week ago he was playing for Colorado Springs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Now he’s with the Yankees: quite a change! What can we expect?
Cooper played college baseball at Auburn University, where he hit .354/.481/.540 in 2013. Drafted in the sixth round that June, he hit .294/.356/.436 in High-A in 2015 then .299/.353/.419 in Double-A in 2016. The Brewers farm system is deep however and he didn’t have the home run power to stand out as a first baseman.
For 2017 he moved up to Colorado Springs and the Pacific Coast League, hitting .366/.428/.652 with 17 homers (already a career high), 33 walks, and 48 strikeouts in 279 at-bats. The Yankees picked him up on July 13th in exchange for lefty Tyler Webb, then brought Cooper to the major leagues the next day.
Cooper is listed at 6-6, 230, a right-handed hitter and thrower born December 25th, 1990. He’s a big strong guy but his raw power has always been ahead of his in-game power, his swing tailored more for line drives. His 17 homers in Triple-A this year are already a career-high. The thin air in Colorado Springs is part of that: he hit a ridiculous .442/.503/.869 at home, but was still decent enough on the road at .300/.359/.500.
I think the later numbers are more indicative of his true ability in a normal Triple-A league and environment. He controls the strike zone reasonably well.
Cooper’s best position is first base. He also has experience in left and right fields but his outfield range is limited by lack of speed. His arm is good enough that the Brewers experimented with him a little at third base in rookie ball but the idea was dropped after he made three errors in five games.
Overall he looks like a .260-.270 hitter to me in the majors with moderate power. That’s a useful role bat.