Suddenly In Demand, Garrett Cooper Lands With Marlins
First baseman Garrett Cooper was just a sophomore at Los Angeles' Loyola High when Giancarlo Stanton was a senior in the same league.
"All the balls Stanton’s hitting now—he was doing that in high school, too,” Cooper said. "With the bats we used in those days, he was pretty dangerous.”
About a decade after his sophomore prep season, Cooper had another interesting experience on July 14, 2017. At age 26, Cooper was traded from the Brewers to the Yankees, who immediately brought him up to make his major league debut against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
In batting practice, he was in a group with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Matt Holliday, who combined to hit 104 home runs in 2017.
"I was trying to hit the ball 600 feet in BP,” Cooper said.
Cooper went 0-for-4—"with three punchies” as he put it—in that first game. But he got his first big league hit two days later against David Price, then collected three hits the next day and went on to hit .326 in 13 games.
The offseason brought a trade to the Marlins when the Yankees sought to clear space on their 40-man roster. Now, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound righthanded hitter could fit in a first base platoon in Miami with lefty-swinging Justin Bour.
A 2013 sixth-round pick out of Auburn, Cooper experienced a breakout 2017 season. In 75 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs, he hit .366/.431/.652 with 17 home runs.
It was partly because of those numbers, that Cooper—the youngest of seven children who grew up playing beach volleyball, football, baseball and basketball in the Torrance area—was traded twice within four months.
Suddenly, he was in demand.
Cooper said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Marlins counterpart Michael Hill called him after the trade was made in November.
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"Cashman told me that (first base) was Greg Bird’s position, and that there were multiple teams wanting to trade for me,” Cooper said. "But he said the Marlins really wanted me. (Hill) said it was a great opportunity for me.”