New challenges await in Double-A
After his promotion to New Hampshire, Cooke faced some adversity as he adjusted to the higher level of competition. His confidence and self-belief remain apparent when asked about the new challenges. He’s not intimidated by the new opponents.
“They're better hitters,” Cooke says matter-of-factly. “They have better eyes, so keeping the ball in the zone is going to be a big thing; they’re not going to chase as much. I feel as though if I keep doing what I'm doing and throwing strikes, my stuff will play, regardless of who's in the box.”
Cooke continues to throw strikes despite allowing four runs through his first three appearances in Double-A. Now with five outings under his belt, he has 13 punchouts through 6 1/3 innings. His two most recent outings have been his best. He struck out the side with eight whiffs on 16 pitches on May 28 and followed that up on May 30 with a two-inning, three-strikeout performance to collect his first win as a Fisher Cat.
As for his future, without a definitive roadmap from the organization for his progression through the minors, Cooke knows that he must focus on himself and continue to perform.
“At this point, just continuing to get strong,” Cooke says when asked what he must do to get on a fast track to the majors. “Continuing to keep throwing harder. Throwing strikes, not walking guys and shutting a lot of guys out. Hopefully, if I keep doing that, I'll keep moving.”
When talking about his goals and where he wants to be this time next year, Cooke readily admits that the easy answer is anywhere higher than he is now. The young reliever, however, is focused on one thing in the here and now, “Striking out more guys than anyone else.”
So far, Connor Cooke‘s plan is working as he makes his journey to the big leagues one strikeout at a time.