Top 50 Jays Prospects, Jays Journal Edition: #34 David Cooper

It’s a new year, so what better way to ring it in with a new prospect on our Top 50 Prospects countdown? A former first-round draft pick comes in at #34…

#34: David Fletcher Cooper

First Baseman / 23 years old / 6′0″ 210 lbs

Born: February 12th, 1987 in Stockton, CA

Bats: Left    Throws: Left

High School Team: Tokay Tigers

College Team: University of California Golden Bears

Drafted By: The Toronto Blue Jays in the 1st round (17th overall) of the 2008 First-Year-Player Draft

Jersey Number: #9 for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Quick Facts:

  • Hobbies include football and video games, and the Oakland Athletics are his favorite team
  • Models his game after Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies
  • Had a .529 batting average and .992 OPS in his final three years of high school
  • Member of the USA Junior National Team in 2004
  • Named a high school All-American and all-state honoree by Baseball America and Louisville Slugger in 2005
  • Was also named San Joaquin Athletic Association MVP and Player of the Year in 2005
  • Initially started his post-secondary education at Cal State Fullerton, where he majored in business administration
  • Hit .305/.337/.404 in 55 games with the Fullerton Titans in 2006
  • Led all players in the 2006 College World Series with a .533 average and was named to the All-Tournament team
  • In addition to playing first base, he pitched 2 shutout innings for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2006
  • Transferred to the University of California for the 2007-2008 seasons, where he majored in American studies
2008 21 A-/A/A+ 69 273 35 91 29 1 5 51 30 46 .333 .399 .502
2009 22 AA 128 473 62 122 32 0 10 66 59 92 .258 .340 .389
2010 23 AA 132 498 59 128 30 1 20 78 52 74 .257 .327 .442

New Hampshire Fisher Cats Team Stats Ranking for David Cooper:

  • Tied for 1st in games played (132)
  • 2nd in at-bats (498), doubles (30), RBI (78), and total bases (220)
  • 3rd in hits (128) and home runs (20)
  • 5th in runs (59), triples (1), and walks (52)


  • A video of him pulling a home run to right field can be found here
  • A video of him in batting practice while with the Auburn Doubledays can be found here
  • A video of him hitting an opposite field home run in college can be found here

Extra Information and previous experience:

After transferring to the University of California as a standout from Cal State Fullerton at the end of the 2006 season, David Cooper‘s baseball career really started to blossom. He was undeniably the most valuable player on the Golden Bears roster from 2007-2008, where he hit an unbelievable .370/.449/.655 slash line in 111 games.

Cooper’s .382 batting average in 2007 earned him the Robert A. Roos Award for being Cal’s top hitter, and his batting average was 3rd best in the entire Pac-10 conference. His 2007 season made him a player of the year candidate and made him a 2007 All-Pac-10 performer.

Cooper led his Cal Bears team in hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, multiple hit games, and multiple RBI games in both 2007 and 2008. With Cooper’s track record, especially his exceptional college numbers, it was hard to criticize then-Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi for making David Cooper the Blue Jays’ first-round draft pick in 2008. Cooper signed almost instantly for a $1.500,000 signing bonus, and reported immediately to the Auburn Doubledays of the New York-Penn League.

Looking more in depth revealed that Cooper’s only asset is his bat, where his ability stems from strong hands and forearms and he has excellent hand-eye coordination more than pure bat speed. There was a divide among scouts that he would be more susceptible in professional ball because of that, or that his pure swing would let him catch up to any fastball. Baseball America pointed out that he has a “polished, patient approach” at the plate and “absolutely mashes” mistakes to all parts of the park.

Cooper initially silenced his critics in 2008, where his .341 average and .963 OPS in 21 games with the Auburn Doubledays earned him a promotion to Class A Lansing during the season. It was more of the same there, where his .354 average and .936 OPS in only 24 games with Lansing earned him yet another promotion to Hi-A Dunedin. He ended up finishing the 2008 season with Dunedin, and logged a .304/.373.435 line in 24 games.

Jays fans seemed to think they had something really special on their hands in Cooper, and Baseball America even ranked him as the Jays’ 5th best prospect after the 2008 season. Cooper earned praise for his phenomenal barrel awareness, sweet swing, and ability to hit for average and power once he incorporates his full body into his swing more. Baseball America predicted that, because he was such a below-average athlete, runner, and defender, Cooper’s bat would have to get him to the Majors.

The Jays were so high on Cooper that they promoted him to Double-A New Hampshire to start the 2009 season. This is where his all-bat skill set caught up to him, and his statistics plummeted. He managed a .258/.340/.389 line, with 10 home runs and 66 RBI. It was his first full season playing professional ball, and he was still only 22-years-old. He made adjustments to his swing as the season went on and finished strong, where, despite his struggles, Baseball America still ranked him as the Jays’ #4 prospect after the 2009 season. BA still considered Cooper as the best hitting prospect in the Jays’ Minor League system, and assumed that he would rebound from 2009 and arrive at Triple-A Las Vegas at some point in 2010.

With the 2010 season having come and gone, David Cooper has still not seen any Triple-A action. His subpar athleticism, running, defense, and ability to hit southpaws continued, where he finished the season with a .257/.327/.442 slash line. He continued to make adjustments defensively and to his swing, but his first half of the season was atrocious.

He started to pick things up after the All-Star break though, with a .317 average and .927 OPS in July, .286 average and .849 OPS in August, and he finished the season on an 11-game hitting streak (15-for-40, .375). His power numbers increased, with 20 home runs and 78 RBI, and his 74 strikeouts on the season were 18 less than the year before.

Expected 2011 Team: Triple-A Las Vegas

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: Designated Hitter

Cooper will still be only 24-years-old come Opening Day, but some could consider his #34 ranking on this list as generous. He certainly benefited the most from Brett Wallace‘s departure from the Blue Jays organization, as now there is a gaping hole at Triple-A Las Vegas which he can fill in 2011.

Cooper will have an immense amount of pressure on him to step-up and perform in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League next season, but hopefully he can take his strong finish to the 2010 season and continue his success in 2011 with a fresh start at Triple-A Las Vegas.


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Tags: Brett Wallace David Cooper J.P. Ricciardi Las Vegas 51s (AAA) New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA) Toronto Blue Jays

  • Mylegacy

    There are two Jays prospects I love to hate – Cooper (whom I shall return to in a few words) and McGuire – who I will hate to my dying day. I will NEVER forgive the Jays for not taking Josh Sale – when Deck becomes Roger Clemens or Roy Halladay – I shall still hate him – I’ve that much of a man-crush on Josh Sale – to me he’s a sure hit, can’t miss, outfielder ball-smasher deluxe (sigh).

    Back to Cooper. When I heard we signed a first baseman that couldn’t play first and was 6′ 175 pounds I nearly died. Here’s a smallish guy (with a good bat) who even at 175 pounds doesn’t have the athletic ability to play first, chew bubble gum or tie his own shoe laces! I still shudder.

    However, he’s 210 pounds now – basically a Brett Wallace clone only with pathetic defense – SO, now he has the size to begin to produce on his promise of “power.” IF – he does hit and hit for power I’ll go from hating him to just being annoyed.

    As for McGuire – it’ll take two Cy Young awards before I overcome my man-crush on Josh Sale! (SIGH!)

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  • baddraftJP

    I don’t even know why JP would draft a 6’0″ 175 Lbs 1b especially when Ike Davis was still available. I could never understand why any team would waste a 1st round pick on a short 1b who is more of a contact hitter than a power hitter. Did I forget to mention that Ike Davis was picked up right after Cooper???!!! (6’4″ 215 Lbs pure power hitter) What a waste of a 1st rounder this guy is.

    • Jared Macdonald

      Obviously even at the time of the draft Davis would get my vote just because of his 6’4” 200lb frame and his projected decent defense and plus arm, but to play devil’s advocate, it made some sense, on paper, as to why JP took Cooper when he did.

      Comparing Davis and Cooper, Cooper had the slightly better college career (excluding Davis’ pitching stats), and had more HR, RBI, and walks, and less strikeouts. Cooper obviously got the edge after his stellar 2008 season in the NYPL too, where Davis struggled. I even found these two interesting quotes at the time courtesy of Baseball America:

      ” While Castro stood out and Auburn’s David Cooper tore the league apart, fellow first-rounder Ike Davis of Brooklyn went homerless in 215 at-bats.”

      “He was just a flop,” an American League scout said [about Davis]. “I don’t know if anyone will have anything good to say about him. He was moping around, just not giving it to you. He wasn’t very aggressive at the plate, and when he strikes out he’s always shocked when he’s called out.”

      Obviously we all know now that Cooper struggled from 2009-on and Davis took off and now the Mets’ starting 1B, but that’s the interesting part about prospects and potential/upside…sometimes it’s reached and sometimes it’s not. Another reason why people are so skeptical of their club’s first-round draft picks.

  • Keith

    I know that none of these players have made an impact yet in MLB, but here are a few players who were picked behind Cooper:
    Ike Davis – already mentioned
    Mike Montgomery
    Jake Odorizzi – projected as the centerpiece of the Greinke deal
    Casey Kelly – centerpeice of the Gonzalez deal
    Josh Feilds – MLB reliever. Could the Jays use one more of those?

    Give me any of those over Cooper. I know hintsight is always 20/20, but I think that Cooper will have the same issues at AAA that he had at AA and will likely be one of those 1st rounders that don’t see the light of MLB. I don’t see what JP was excited about when he drafted him. Especially with that glove.
    Glad to see AA’s high ceiling philosophy being implemented. We’ll strike out on quite a few, but if just 25% reach their potential we will have great team. versus JP and his selections of average players who still didn’t make it.

    • Steve

      I’ll also play devil’s advocate. I think Ricciardi had a thing for sweet swings. This pick follows in the same mold as the Lind and Snider picks. Also, under Ricciardi the Jays had to make safe picks – pressure from MLB not to go over slot and limited budget from Rogers. This sometimes means not signing the best available player, but the player most likely to sign and follow a quick path to the majors. And, of course, they don’t always work out. Otherwise, great write up on Cooper; some good information that I wasn’t aware of.

      • Mat Germain

        I’m not sure JP had a limited budget from Rogers…he spent millions upon millions signing Wells and Rios to massive extensions, so as long as he had support from them – and trust – he was going to get the money he needed to sign players.

        As for the MLB thing – WHO CARES? lol. They “suggest”, or “recommend”, but do we care? I certainly hope not. It’s one thing to have all MLB teams comply and to follow it at that time, but until that happens (never will), the Jays NEED to sign over slot guys to compete in the AL East. The only way that will stop under AA is if a hard cap is put on every single pick – a possibility at some point.

  • Jared Macdonald

    That’s the great, refreshing part of Alex Anthopoulos’ mindset. He has said from day 1 that’s he is not afraid to take risks and that he will strike out on some, but targeting only the highest-upside players means exactly what you said: even if 25% of them reach their potential there are a few superstars that would emerge.

    Also, for what it’s worth regarding the 2008 draft post-David Cooper, it was evident 2002 first-rounder Russ Adams was a clear bust for the Jays (look at that, another J.P. Ricciardi draft pick), so I’d have possibly taken infielder Lonnie Chisenhall (or even injury plagued Reese Havens), who just hit 17 HR and 87 RBI at Double-A as a 21 year old and was ranked as the #31 prospect in MLB prior to 2010 by BA.

    That’s the beauty (or annoying part) of the MLB draft. Hindsight makes whatever borderline questionable draft decisions at the time seem even more pathetic years later. Using Russ Adams again (my favorite scenario…), Kazmir, Loney, Cain, and Hamels were all chosen after him.

    The Jays seem to have addressed that issue somewhat by employing more scouts, thus getting more looks at players. This won’t guarantee 100% success from every pick, but I feel more at ease just looking at the 2010 draft results for the Jays and the quality there, not to mention the 2011 draft is supposed to be even deeper!

    In regards to David Cooper specifically, had the Jays had the beefed up scouting department that they currently have, they could have gotten more looks at Cooper and noticed his flaws in multiple other aspects of the game instead of just being aroused by his bat.

    A GM would have to be out of his mind though to draft a 6’0″, 175lb first baseman who hit more for average than power. (Un)fortunately for us Jays fans, J.P. Ricciardi was out of his mind on multiple occasions throughout his tenure with the Jays…

    • Steve

      As you said, hindsight tells us everything. And in MLB, you need at least 3 years (generally more) before you can judge how successful a player is going to be. As such, the jury is still out on all of AA’s picks but we are far enough along to review Ricciardi’s picks. You can’t judge success by looking at the players drafted ahead or behind a certain player and you also have to take everything in its proper context. In terms of the number of players drafted by Ricciardi who have posted quality MLB numbers in relation to his peers, the results would put Ricciardi near the top. Also, what a lot of people don’t realize is that Ricciardi had a very restrictive budget. He didn’t have the budget for scouting that AA has. He also received pressure from MLB not to go over slot in the draft in exchange for the tranfer payment the Jays were receiving.

  • chris

    the reason why AA has the money for scouting and drafting and all that good stuff and jp didnt is simple….do u see aj burnett? troy glause? frank thomas? ted lilly? lyle overpay? on this jays team? not to mention a rios extention and a just whacko wells extention. JP wasted his money on old washed up players or guys who just arent good enuff to win you 95 games in the rugged AL east. which is what it will take to get us into the playoffs. dont worry bout signing crawford or beltre or whoever…we have our own crawfords brewing down on the farm. thanks to AA for using his money wisely unlike someone, no names…cough… JP Ricciardi… dont worry jays fans when the time is right the moeny will be there to complete the puzzle

    go jays go

  • Steve

    MLB asks all 30 teams not to go over slot and many ignore this request. Some teams receive transfers under the revenue sharing program and so there is added pressure, but still many of them ignore. One team had an agreement whereby they received about $10 million annually to compensate for a low dollar. As part of the agreement, they agreed not to go over slot. JP COULD NOT go over slot. It was JP himself who began publicly questioning whether it was worth it. In 2009, with the agreement no longer in place, JP announce he would go over slot. If I’m not mistaken he did with Jenkins and offered above slot money to Paxton.

  • Steve

    This is in reply to Matt’s reply to my submission yesterday and further to my submission at 12:05. I’m having trouble replying directly. Keep getting an error message. The budget during the first 4 or 5 years of JPs tenure was historically the lowest any Jays GM had to work with in relation to avg MLB salary. When Rogers did increase the budget, it came with the expectation that he spend it with the goal being immediate results. Finally, the Wells contract was Godfrey. I don’t care much for JP, but it irks me that people still blame him for that one when it was Godfrey.

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