Jordan Cooper, You Couldn’t Root for a Better Guy

Thursday evening the Akron Aeros came off the field after a 1-0 loss to the Trenton Thunder. The loss marked their third in a row as they were swept by the Thunder to kick off a six game home stand. The mood was somber, and few players wanted to talk beyond the small groups that had formed in the locker room. There was one however that remained warm and friendly.

Jordan Cooper just suffered his third loss of the season despite a masterful pitching performance. He threw seven innings and gave up just one run, but the Aeros were shut out and he took a hit to the loss column. You couldn’t tell by talking to him, he was nice, talkative, and friendly. Some may look at that and say it’s a sign he doesn’t have the fire, I say it’s great to see one of the nicest people I’ve ever met succeeding. He certainly has the drive, so let’s hope that nice guys don’t always finish last.

Drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the ninth round in 2010, Cooper began his professional career at Mahoning Valley. He made thirteen starts with the scrappers that season with an even 5-5 record. He was promoted to Lake County in 2011, and moved up to Carolina in 2012. With the Mudcats, Cooper pitched mostly out of the bullpen. He made seven starts and 22 relief appearances with a 9-7 record and a 3.54 ERA. In 2013 he moved back into the rotation, making four starts in Carolina. His 2.19 ERA got him the call up to the Akron Aeros, and Cooper continued to thrive. He’s made seven starts in Akron going 3-3 with a 3.28 ERA. He’s struck out batters in 49 innings pitched.

Cooper’s first start in Akron came against the Bowie Baysox. He pitched five innings giving up one run and striking out five. Despite the good performance, he received a no-decision. His next start was another no-decision as Cooper pitched six innings giving up two runs and striking out five again. He didn’t earn his first win until his fifth start when he pitched six shutout innings against the Portland Sea Dogs. He faced off again with the Sea Dogs in his next start and repeated his dominance. He threw five shutout innings striking out seven batters. Five days later he made it three in a row when he seven strong against the Trenton Thunder allowing only one run on three hits and five strikeouts. Cooper suffered the loose in the start, but that’s just another example of how a pitcher wins and losses can be deceiving. He pitched phenomenally in the game and was simply the victim of no offensive support.

“I was just trying to mix it up, keep the hitters off balance,” Cooper said.

Aeros Manager Edwin Rodriguez was thrilled with the way Cooper pitched the game.

“It was a Hall of Fame performance,” Rodriguez said with a bit of jest. “His ball was moving pretty well, his changeup was working.”

Cooper has enjoyed a great deal of success this season, both in Carolina and Akron, but beyond the numbers, he is a player everyone should root for. He is one of the nicest, friendliest kids in the ball park. I put an emphasis on kid. At the Double A level, it is very easy to see the transition the game takes from the fun game of youth to a hard working job. Many players team with stress and frustration, and with the pressure that is put on them, who could blame them. They have worked their entire life to become a Major League player, and the dream is now right there in front of them, just a grasp away. Cooper still plays the game like a kid, with a smile on his face. He wants to be a Major Leaguer, but he has perspective; with the big show looming so close, he has the demeanor of a high school kid.

“I can’t worry about that,” Cooper said. “I’m just going out there every day having fun. I’m playing baseball; I’m enjoying my time, enjoying [my teammates].”

From teammates to coaches to front office personnel, no one has a bad thing to say about Cooper. In fact, the general consensus is that he is the nicest kid on the team; you couldn’t root for a better guy. He will take the mound tonight for the Akron Aeros to face off against Harrisburg Senators. The Aeros (36-38) hope to once again climb above the .500 mark and get themselves back in the race in the Eastern League Western division.

Photo: Akron Aeros

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