Milwaukee Brewers: Garrett Cooper, blocked prospect or trade chip?
By Brad Jiles
Not too long ago, The Milwaukee Brewers farm system was a wasteland, ranking 29th on Baseball America’s Organizational rankings in 2014. As the team has steadily risen up to 8th this year, they’ve also developed a bit of an organizational logjam at several positions in the minors.
Beyond just recent prospect acquisitions, Milwaukee Brewers GM David Stearns has also netted legitimate Major League talent. Trades and free agent acquisitions have brought players like Eric Thames, Keon Broxton, Jonathan Villar, Travis Shaw, Manny Pina, Jett Bandy, Eric Sogard, and Jesus Aguilar to the Brewers.
Let’s have a look at one of those players; first baseman Garrett Cooper.
What’s his current situation, and what does his future hold?
Garrett Cooper has always produced, even though he has never been a top prospect. He is a former sixth round draft pick from the 2013 class. Cooper has mashed at every level in the Minors, even hitting well in the Florida State League, a notoriously bad hitter’s environment. It’s Cooper’s lack of power that has held him back. However, he has maintained a high average, .303 overall in the minors, and generally made up for a lack of homers with doubles.
Although everyone would love to see him stay on a 36 home run pace with a .367 batting average, Cooper’s stats at Colorado Springs this year have been greatly aided by the hitter friendly environment. His Isolated Power for the 2017 campaign sits at .256. In 92 games at Double-A, Cooper posted a .120 mark, which is much more in line with his level of production. He clearly enjoys hitting in the thin Colorado air.
Of course, Eric “the Beerd” Thames is the Brewers’ first baseman for the duration of his contract. There’s no starting job available to Cooper for the foreseeable future. He could conceivably replace Jesus Aguilar, and provide an Overbay-like bat off the bench.
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Perhaps Cooper’s greatest use could be as a trade chip. Many would think he doesn’t have much value as a 26-year old who has never played in the Majors. He fits a similar profile to former Brewers farmhand, Jason Rogers. David Stearns turned Rogers into Keon Broxton AND Trey Supak, an increasingly valuable Minor League pitcher. Perhaps Stearns can work his magic with Cooper as well.