On day 3 of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft, near the end of the draft, the Cincinnati Reds made a pick in the 35 round. “With the 35th selection, the Cincinnati Reds select Tanner Cooper, a right-handed pitcher out of Finger Lakes Community College,” said the voice on the other end of the conference call. I’ve listened to teams draft 1200-1500 players each year for nearly a decade now. It’s not too often these days that I hear of a school I’ve never heard of before. But Finger Lakes Community College? “I hope they have their stats on their page and I don’t have to try and find them on the NJCAA website (which isn’t great),” was my initial thought.

Fortunately for me, Finger Lakes Community College did indeed have their stats on their own website. I clicked on their stats page and the second player listed in the hitting stats section was Tanner Cooper. “Wasn’t he drafted as a pitcher,” I thought. Double-checked the draft tracker, and sure enough, he was. Then I looked at his hitting stats. Oh man! In 61 games he hit .411/.521/.714 with 44 walks, 30 strikeouts, 16 doubles, 9 triples, and 8 home runs. He accounted for HALF of the home runs the team hit all season. Only two other players on the team even had multiple home runs.

Of course, this came at a small junior college, but still. An OPS of 1.235 is raking. And that’s not even what he was drafted to do. So I scrolled down to the pitching section of the stats. Oh man! 72.1 innings pitched and a 1.62 ERA. Just 45 hits allowed, no home runs allowed, 19 walks, and an absurd 136 strikeouts.

Is Tanner Cooper the real life version of Steve Nebraska? If you are unaware of the reference, Steve Nebraska is a fictional character in the movie The Scout, played by Brendan Fraser. He is essentially the greatest baseball player that ever lived and no one knows about him outside of this small town in the middle of nowhere Mexico, where he’s viewed as a God of Baseball. Sort of. He’s the best pitcher alive. He’s also the best hitter alive.

The chances that Tanner Cooper is actually the real life Steve Nebraska aren’t good. In fact, I’ll go ahead and state that he isn’t the best pitcher and best hitter on the planet. But man, he sure played like it at Finger Lakes Community College.

He’s said that he’s going to sign with the team. And he told the local paper that the Reds are willing to let him play in the field and pitch. Tanner Cooper played first base, second base, shortstop, and he served as the designated hitter while not pitching (though he did DH while pitching). It’s unclear where he’d play in the field – if he would at all. Perhaps he would only be used as a designated hitter when he’s not pitching.

We will find out soon enough. Billings begins their season on Friday. The Arizona League Reds will start their season on Monday the 17th. The Greeneville Reds will begin their season on Tuesday the 18th. Tanner Cooper will wind up on one of those teams. And personally, I can’t wait to see what happens.

7 Responses

  1. B-town fan

    He was a Penn State commit but decided to turn pro, and he was at Stonybrook originally but they wouldn’t let him pitch so he went back home to community college, according to the news article. A very interesting story.

    • RojoBenjy

      This is way more entertaining than thinking about the Reds right now, that’s for sure.

  2. RedsKoolAidDrinker

    In addition to the nuts and bolts that Doug provides, it’s really interesting to check out the local papers online for these draftees just to see the emotional side of it.
    Wish we had forums we could post things like that as well as other chats here, but I’m sure it’s really expensive to have.

    • Doug Gray

      It’s not expensive at all to host a message board (if you’re already hosting a website). But, it’s a nightmare from an administrative standpoint. Between the amount of spam, and just more reading and moderating comments, it’s an absolute nightmare. Never, ever going to happen here. There’s a reason every site on the planet is taking away the ability for users to comment rather than add the ability for it.

      • Jeremy T

        Not only is he a great player but he is the nicest kid. He will absolutely represent the Reds organization well on and off the field.

  3. MK

    Heard from Lyon Richardson today that he was committed to U of Florida as a two way player(P-OF). He said in negotiating with the Reds they offered two contract options. One as a pitcher, one a position player and that the money was significantly better as pitcher only, so that is what he chose. Maybe that is what they offered Cooper as well.