Cooper left today for Falmouth, Mass., to play for the Commodores in the prestigious Cape Cod League.
"It's kind of like a pro team. They go out and recruit guys on their own for their teams. You are invited by the team, not the league, to play," Cooper said. "The bottom line is players in the league are so good that every team is balanced because you have the best players in the country playing."
Cooper, who has signed to play for Bradley next year, is scheduled to throw an inning Sunday when the Commodores play a U.S. military all-star team.
"I felt like this season went well for me. There are always a couple of performances that you want to go back on, but overall things were fine," he said.
"I felt like I got better in some aspects. I learned how to pitch in the cold. Now my velocity is starting to show more in the warm weather. My slider got a lot better. It was my out pitch this year. I didn't use my changeup as much this year as I will against higher competition."
Cooper anticipates spending all summer at the Cape Cod League unless he's drafted higher than he anticipates next week.
"I start off the season being listed as a potential first- or second-round pick. So did my teammate," Cooper said. "We both performed well, but now we have both fallen below the fourth round. I don't know what it is. It's kind of hard to project junior college players I guess.
"If I get an offer that is good enough, I will sign and leave to play pro ball. But teams have until Aug. 15 to negotiate with you. There's a chance I could get the offer I want on draft day, but more than likely I'll spend the summer in the Cape Cod League."
Working his way up
Cooper says it's not unusual for players who don't get contract offers they want to play in the Cape Cod League because it is compared to high Class A minor league professional baseball.
"If I perform well in this league, it will show you can perform professionally and then you will get the money you originally wanted," Cooper said.
"I can also still go to Bradley for a year or two. But what I do in the Cape Cod League will have a huge impact on next year's draft if I go back in the draft. Scouts really look and notice how you do against this competition. You really can't compare the Cape Cod even to regular-season college ball because the competition is so good."
Cooper says he's excited, but not nervous, about the upcoming months.
"I am a pretty loose guy and do not worry about too much stuff. I am more looking forward to going out and living with those guys and doing different things than I am worrying about what might happen," he said.