Pleskoff: Cooper Has MLB Tools

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. I know this because that’s precisely what it says at the end of all his articles for MLB.com, including his latest, in which he touts David Cooper’s tools.

Yes, that David Cooper.

It’s not exactly a full-on firecracker of a glowing scouting report, but it’s certainly an interesting one, especially given that most of what we tend to think of Cooper is… well… it’s not very good.

Pleskoff notes, quite rightly, that speed and defence aren’t Cooper’s greatest assets, explaining that “he can make the average play but he might not save many errant throws or make diving, spectacular plays around the bag. It will be his bat that must sustain him at the Major League level.” And perhaps surprisingly, he sees in Cooper the tools to actually, possibly, make such a thing happen.

Pleskoff watched Cooper as he struggled through the 2009 Arizona Fall League, but took away some positives from what he saw. “It wasn’t an eye-opening performance at all,” he writes. “But I did see promise and upside due to the strength of the various hitting components of his game. He knew the strike zone and he made pitchers work deep into counts. I felt the power would arrive. It is a fact that latent power is not uncommon with many players built and developed like Cooper.”

Those positives remained evident this season,  as “he had struck out only 19 times in 185 plate-appearances,” before getting the call to Toronto, “an outstanding indication of his solid contact hitting and good plate discipline.”

The knock on Cooper, of course, is that his lack of power makes him an inadequate fit for the only position he’s able to play, first base. Pleskoff explains that this is something that’s definitely being acknowledged and addressed. “This past offseason, Cooper made improving his overall strength a primary conditioning goal,” he writes. “He hopes added muscle will make the difference between hitting balls over the fence as opposed to hitting them in the gaps.”

We’ve yet to see many of the fruits of those labours, as none of the home runs Cooper hit prior to moving up to Toronto came outside the thin, dry air of Cashman Field in Las Vegas, but he only just turned 25 in February, and it’s not exactly impossible to think that there could still power to be developed.

“History has shown that it takes time, effort and repetition against increasingly better quality pitching to realize potential,” we’re told. “Cooper appears to be maturing as a hitter. His increased strength may be the final addition to his overall physical maturation.”

It’s long been the general consensus that Cooper is more of a Quad-A, fringe prospect, Org. guy who wouldn’t have been so overlooked the past two years, as he piled up Triple-A successes while the Jays got jack shit from the guy ahead of him on the depth chart, had the club thought any differently of him. The call-up of Yan Gomes ahead of Cooper when Adam Lind was demoted seemed yet another signal that this was the mindset, but perhaps we’ve come to this conclusion too hastily, and largely out of the necessity of pushing back so hard against the tidal wave of casual misinterpretation of his PCL stats.

I’d never suggest that an added dimension of significant power, at this stage, is a development to be expected, or that anybody is wrong to suggest that right now, as is, slugging under .400 and coasting along nicely on a .389 BABIP, he’s a viable long-term option at first base. But maybe there’s something to the notions of latent power that Pleskoff seems to believe are the final piece of the puzzle.

At the very least, as long as he keeps on hitting singles, with the occasional double mixed in, and gets his walk rate back up closer to the 10% range he’s capable of, I’m starting to think it’s maybe not entirely crazy to give him some kind of fraction of the amount of rope that was given to goddamned Adam Lind to see what truly is there. I’m not about to bet on Cooper coming anywhere close to his PCL levels of production, but it’s not an incorrect notion that he’s got some decent tools at the plate, and perhaps we should maybe think twice before turning up our noses at a mere singles hitter, given some of the black holes we’ve seen in the Jays’ lineup so far this year.

It’s not like there’s a whole lot of downside, at the moment, given what little else is kicking around to replace him with.

Comments (79)

  1. A singles hitter ahead of Bautista/ Encarnacion isn’t such a bad thing. Can probably overlook the SLG% if he’s able to consistently get on base. Obviously not a great long-term option on a competitive team, but perhaps a commodity nonetheless.

  2. Continuing to hit singles with the occasional double mixed in is an improvement over what the team had before.

  3. Wonder if Cooper might turn out to be a decent three-hole hitter (ie, moving runners without using outs to do so). Not enough speed for 2.
    In any case, he’s an upgrade over Lind, and the more he hits, the better trade bait (thank you, Captain Obvious).
    Are there any “typical” 1bs out there that he, with a Nicolino or whatever, we might trade him for? (or is my head completely up my ass here)

  4. I think the question is going to come down to – Vlad or Cooper? I guess I wouldn’t mind seeing what Cooper can do, since I think there is no real future for Vlad. You could maybe trade Vlad for a prospect, but if you don’t really take a look at Cooper, aren’t you essentially potentially losing a prospect?

    • I would think you could keep both, giving them each 50% of the ABs (with EE going to 1st on days Cooper is off). It may actually be a fairly good tandem.

  5. Stoeten, definitely agree with you on this. Maybe if Cooper finds some power in his swing from improved conditioning, we could have a decent option at least at 1st base, not a long term solution, but definitely a better option than the Lindy McLindster.

  6. David Cooper could become Ross Gload, and I’d totally take that.

  7. Listing his slugging percentage and BABIP after 22 PA this season…really?

  8. We know that Coopers “floor” is now as a Quad-A player… If this report is to be believe… are we looking at a Billy Butler type of guy as his ceiling? That’s not too bad!… I’m stretching a bit maybe, but i’m talking ceiling after all.

    • Billy Butler has some power. I’d say the ceiling is like a “Joe Mauer Lite”

      • Don’t think Billy has a whole lot more power than Cooper does. Maybe a bit more in the past 2 years…
        I don’t get the Mauer comp at all.

      • More like John Kruk, minus the gut and personality. A line drive hitting OBP-machine first baseman that everyone hopes will develop a little more power.

        And Kruk would be the better fielder, and likely the faster runner. That’s right.

    • Billy Butlers ISO is way up this year, he already has 11 homers. He may have finally developed the power he was projected to have. Of course, Billy Butler hits 300 and walks a fuck ton so he dosen’t need to have crazy power…..Cooper doesn’t really do either of those things

    • I’d feel a lot better about that if the same writer didn’t also suggest in the same article (2/3rds thru’ Aug. 2011) that we could therefore dump EE.

      • Olerud comp seems outlandish to me too.

        • maybe but a high average hitter is something the Jays could afford to have more of.

          • Olerud was much more than a high average hitter, though.

            His OBP, SLG and BB% were always above league average (His SLG in 1993 was .599! He had a 1.072 OPS!). There were only 2 years between 1990 and 2002 when is ISO was below league average.

    • I’m not buying the Olerud comp. That’s plain retarded.

      Assuming he has gap power and assuming he’s reasonably patient at the plate, Cooper sounds more like what we were promised with Overbay.

  9. The one thing that might help Cooper become more popular with fans (besides hitting well) and I’m totally serious here, he needs to grow a beard and hide that weak chin.

  10. I like the Encarnacion bashing at the end of article.

  11. Here is a legitimate question: When the last decade of baseball has taught us to think of the game in new ways that are not beholden to traditional thinking, I would like to know why the old “He doesn’t put up numbers good enough for that position” routinely gets trotted out? . Traditionally you want 30 hrs and 100 RBIs from firstbase, but why not just take a guy who gets on base? If Cooper is mostly a single/walk guy, whats so bad about that? If you have 3 or 4 guys hitting for extra base power , especially when one of them is one of the best players in the league, and are getting, hopefuly, 1b numbers from your thirdbaseman, isnt a high on base guy like Cooper exactly what this team needs? A team where , I think, no one is hitting over .270?

    • It’s a good point especially if a team has power from other spots in the lineup that you wouldn’t traditionally get it from.

      • It’s because it is a lot easier to get a power hitting 1Bman

        • Power sure, but do they get on base? Would rather have the doubles hitter who gets on base at a .400 clip than a bomber at a .270 clip. I am pretty sure the doubles guy would create more runs for the offense overall.

    • This.

    • I don’t necessarily disagree with the point, but if walks and singles are the only way Cooper’s contributing offensively, he needs a hell of a lot of both.

      • Yes he’d need to mix in a lot more doubles or he’d end up with a slugging line that looks a lot like Lawrie’s earlier on. Even with a higher OBP the overall OPS would suffer.

    • A high average guy will help your team out just as much. If he becomes a career .300 hitter with 10-15HR sign him up. Especially if you have power guys who will drive him in. Some small ball National league team will use him if we don’t.

    • Because of positional adjustment, (a 1B is worth 15 runs less than a 3B by positional adjustment). It is easy to find a person to field 1B, so the expected offensive value must be high.
      This impacts a Cooper type because without power, a glove, or speed, you need to get on base at a really high rate to match up with the production of the prototypical 30 HR, 100 RBI guy, who also probably walks a bit and can hit singles and doubles all day long too.

    • i think GMs say they want power at first base because it’s one of the easiest positions to play and power hitters, generally, aren’t very good defensively so you can mask their liabilities there.

  12. If he hits .300ish then you don’t need excessive power. We have power at other positions. Then he bats third. Olerud/Boggs/Molitor/Carew/Gwynn. I realize this puts him in ridiculously good company but I just want to point out that you don’t have to hit 25 HRs to be a key bat or in the HOF.

    • John Olerud was a Gold Glover. Career OBP of 398.
      Wade Boggs was a Gold Glover. Career OBP of 415. He was also a 3rd baseman.
      Paul Molitor never won a Gold Glove and only carried a career OBP of 369, but, he played 80% of his games at 2nd or 3rd.
      Tony Gwynn was a Gold Glove OF. Career OBP of 388.

      David Cooper needs to keep his OBP right around 400 and then he still wouldn’t bring nearly as much value as John Olerud or any of the others. You don’t need to hit 25HR’s to be a key bat, but, you do need to do everything else a hell of a lot better then average to make up for. Plus defense helps a lot too.

  13. Unless Cooper develops some power he won’t likely be any kind of long term solution. The cliche that he just has to be better than Lind was true until Gomes inserted his name in the conversation. Gomes has shown more power, plays three infield positions, and with his arm and athleticism could potentially play corner outfield spots too. I’d like to see more of him, but can’t help but feel that Cooper has earned a legit shot as well. The beauty of the Jays is that they have 20-25 HR power potential at positions you don’t find it every day (CF, SS, 2B) so having a 1B that hits for average instead of power is a workable situation. As long as he gets on base A LOT. Good to see him get a shot. I’ve never understood why teams give up on prospects without giving them any kind of shot. Seems like wasting a potential asset. I was worried the Jays were going that route with Cooper so it’s good to at least see what he might contribute.

    • 20-25 HR power at SS??

      • escobar aint gettin 20

      • Don’t worry I realize it’s a stretch, which is why I said potential. He went for 14 back in 2009, and he’s a much bigger bodied type than you generally see at the position. It would be a career season type of thing, not something you can count on, but again, that’s why I said potential. Hey we can chalk one more up for this season at least ;)

  14. Wasn’t John Olerud once thought of as a guy with limited ceiling? One who has ability to hit for average, but not for power?

    Granted, Olerud was spectacular defensively, but from an offensive standpoint, that kind of upside is not so bad.

    • His ceiling was never in doubt as far as an overall player. Remember he went right from college to the majors. Olreud was an OBP machine – .398 OBP for his career.

      If Cooper could get on base with equal success then I am sure a lot of teams would love him no matter his power especially in this day and age.

    • John Olerud had limited power for a first baseman, but still averaged 17 home runs and 34 doubles if you exclude 1989 and his final two seasons when he was a bench player.

      Cooper has limited power for a major league player, regardless of position. If Cooper could play the corner outfield spots, he’d more likely stick as a John Vander Wal/Ross Gload/John Mabry type. Without that positional flexibility and the lack of any kind of power (he won’t be a doubles machine like Olerud), Cooper’s fighting against the current.

  15. I would just like to say that after watching the Blue Jays hit 4 solo jacks against Baltimore…someone who could hit singles and take walks would be greatly appreciated.

    • Remember the game before that where the Jays scored 8 runs against baltimore without a single HR? That impressed me alot more than The 4HR game. I believe Cooper had three hits in that game.

  16. I kind of like Cooper. I think the Jays have enough low average home run hitters and the team could use someone who gets on base and drives in runs. I wouldn’t mind seeing him bat second.

    • “Drives in runs”? That’s RBI talk son and that won’t be tolerated ’round these parts. Plus, without extra-base pop, somebody already has to be standing on second or third to be driven in which is assuming away the problem of OBP.

  17. I realize the sample size could fit on the head of a pin, but based on my observations I wouldn’t classify his defense as “average”. He appears slightly higher than average, and I gotta think that all the experience in Las Vegas, playing on that cement like playing surface (so I am told) must have improved his defence since this 2009 observation.

  18. I think he’s got upside, I’ve said it plenty of times on here, certainly more than the typical AAAA label he’s been stuck with. That said, I just don’t see him getting the extended AB’s needed to prove it anytime soon, certainly not with the Jays. Best bet is he finishes out his time with Jays and ends up getting a chance as 27 or 28 year old down the line with some other team. His bat probably plays better in big pitchers parks with large outfield gaps or a place like Fenway where that opposite field gap power plays perfectly for lining doubles off the green monster.

  19. Yan Gomes was called up before Cooper because he can play 3B and Lawrie was suspended. Probably not an indication of preference for Gomes over Cooper.

    I am amazed that Cooper is only 25. I totally thought he was 27 or 28 for some reason. It just seems like he has been floundering in the organization forever.

    Hopefully some idiot GM read this MLB.com article and will now trade us something for Cooper.

    • So he’s probably not better than Gomes and he’s younger than you thought but you’re totally willing to give up on him?

      • “probably better” i think you mean. But yes, I am perfectly willing to cut bait on him if for some reason teams think he is valuable. 1B should be easy to fill in the future, and Bautista will probably move there in the next couple years.

  20. Yepper, Cooper is our man as long as we confine the universe to himself, Lind and EE. An elderly rookie, a singles boules hitter, with limited range, should keep us out of the wild card, but close enough to the post season that it will the decision as to sign or trade EE and KJ a difficult one.

  21. Small sample size but there’s a good article on Sportsnet about Rasmus. Check out his line for the last two weeks – .333/.391/.714/1.106. Might be the reason he’s hitting 5th tonight. If he starts to slug around .500 on a regular basis his bat is really going to lengthen the lineup.

  22. Yepper?

  23. When you think of AAAA players, you think of hackers who swing at everything, who cant survive vs better pitchers in the majors ( Arencibia, Gomes, Thames, etc).

    Cooper has an approach which is the complete opposite of your standard AAAA hitter, and I dont think its too crazy to say he could put up numbers similiar to Frank Catalanotto ( 297 / 352 / 445 career line )

    • Arencibia is a AAAA player? You are a fucktard.

      • Dear fucktard do you even know what an AAAA hitter is?

        Learn 2 watch baseball, and not be brainwashed by watching the leafs 24/7 idiot

        • Calling a hitter AAAA really has nothing to do with their approach. Granted many of them are hackers, but there are just as many that may have a good approach but are just unable to turn a major league fastball and therefore hit with any kind of power.

          Either way, calling Arencibia AAAA kinda makes you a fucktard. He may be a hacker, but he’s definitely proven he’s an MLB caliber hacker for a catcher ;)

    • I watched a lot of AAA baseball because I used to live four blocks away from Nat Bailey Stadium in the 1980s, when the Vancouver Canadians were the farm team of the Oakland A’s.Yes, lots of AAA hitters can’t cut in the majors because they lack plate discipline, exactly like you said. (Similarly, a lot of AAA pitchers can’t stick in the majors because MLB hitters won’t fish for their off the plate pitches that AAA players willlingly hack at.) However, IMO from watching a lot of AAA an even bigger factor is that guys can’t move up to the majors because they can’t hit major league ptiching that’s over the plate — that is, they can’t hit the various “movement” pitches (sliders, other breaking stuff) that MLB pitchers have and they can’t adjust to the adjustments that MLB pitchers relentlessly make.

      Does this describe Cooper? Not really. Cooper looks like he has plate discipline, sees the movement pitches and makes contact, and has a short smooth swing. His problems are lack of power and the fact that he can ONLY play 1B (it’s not a matter of how good he is at 1B, it’s that he can’t be put anywhere else). As for adjusting to the adjustments, we don’t know yet. I’ve said on here before that I’m skeptical about his chances, but I’d be happy to be wrong.

      While I’m at it, all the your-mother-could-mash-in-Vegas stuff on this site is way way overdone. Yes, baseballs go a lot further in the high-altitude parks (which Vancouver surely isn’t, with thick humid air 200 feet above sea level) but only a few places (Vegas, Reno, Salt Lake City, Colorado Springs) are actually at altitude — and Cooper isn’t a home run hitter anyway

    • Now limit the Cat to only playing first, and not well. Not MLB 1st baseman quality. Cattalanotto played 1st/2nd/3rd/LF/RF.

  24. I watched Coops PA’s closely during the game on Wed. I think he was 1 for 3 with a double and a walk …
    Anyway, I thought he looked really good at the plate. The walk was a long at bat that he fouled off a few pitches before getting the free pass. Every swing I watched him take was what looked like a good cut. He wasn’t getting cheated one bit. It looks to me like he has a good approach at the plate. And as a lot of others have said, he’s definitely an upgrade over who was playing 1B before. What was his name again …

  25. at least he can hit the ball, and unless they line up 7 fielders between first and third, he is going to get hits.

  26. I will be the first to admit I think less of Cooper because he looks like a pansy-assed accountant. Having said that, I have been impressed with his play since his callup, and wouldn’t mind seeing him get on base consistently until something better comes along

  27. Sorry off topic everyone, but………………………………..

    I would just like to light up a quick “Hant”(Hate Rant) on the evil nemisis behind home plate in Chicago: The Prick Known As AJ Spikeinski(Pryzynski)

    What a nasty asshole. You know, I like to dislike people such as Nick Squisher, A-Roid, and AJ Burnup, all mostly because they are narcissistic showboats, but I rarely like to use the word HATE. So I am going all in and stating that, I hate that cheap, frosted-tipped-boyband-hairdoed, naturally born vindictive cocksucker A-fucking spiker-J Pyrzynski.

    TWICE! In the last month I have witnessed unwaranted spikings from this grade A douch………actually, I wont even give him that much credit, because a douche goes into a womans vagina, …….he’s a grade A enema that deserves a good ole fashioned shit kicking. He spiked Chicago Cubs 3rd baseman Stewart 2 weeks ago and most recently Ben Zobrist.

    If this prick tries anything in Toronto, we gotta go this guy. I fucking jumping the wall and am going to go yard on his chops.

    Hant Over. But feel free to share your hate if you have any balled up like me.

  28. jays need some obp help. Have averaged 9th in AL since 2000. What a joke 2010 was. 257 home runs but Yankees outscored them by 105 runs on 56 fewer homers. Team is 11th now in OBP. Making outs .690 of the time ain’t gonna win nuttin’.

  29. Anyway, the sentiments of a scout of the fucking Astro’s is not exactly the guy I want to be getting excited about, and David Cooper ain’t taken the Jays anywhere.

  30. At the end of the day, no matter what avg/obp/hit total he puts up, doesn’t Encarnacion provide much more offensively and marginally more defensively? A short injury window provides a look at what could be an opportunity to develop a trade chip if the season goes to shit.

  31. high opb lefty standing next to awesome defense hechavarria could be an intersting look and free up a trade for KJ. Someone mentioned earlier liking Cooper at second, with Escobar ahead of him splitting the middle infield with a plus plus range defender, could make for a balanced infield.

    • mixed with a supersub veteran infielder, marisnick/rasmus/bautista/gose outfield and d’arnaud behind the plate? fux wit meeee

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