Cohoes Sheds Light On Overseas Program
At Baseball America, it's obvious we pride ourselves on our coverage of prospects, and for those of us who write about the draft, we work hard to know about as many as players as possible. We are human, and with 50 rounds of selections there have always been plenty of players who we're unfamiliar with who were picked. For it to happen in the first 10 rounds, however, is a surprise.
Once the televised portion of the draft is finished, teams fly through their picks. The ninth round was barely under way last year when a selection caughts all of us off guard. With the 273rd pick, the Mariners took Cavan Cohoes. Shortstop. Patch High School in Stuttgart, Germany.
After we made some phone calls, a very interesting story began to develop. Cohoes wasn't a German prospect somehow eligible for the draft. He was indeed an American citizen—an athletic and quick shortstop in fact—living on a military base in southwestern Germany.
Patch players (l to r) Cavan Cohoes, Dylan Measells, Jack Smith and Ryan Tannenbaum with Ramstein's Justin Pendergrass
The Patch Barracks house all four branches of the military, including a special forces group and two Navy SEAL teams, as well as the Coast Guard. Cohoes' father, Chris, was a Navy pilot for 14 years before taking a job with Delta Airlines. But September 11 brought layoffs and he latched on with the Air Force. The family spent Cavan's first two years of high school in England before moving to Stuttgart. Cohoes had grown up with a love for baseball and a move overseas could have killed his dream, but a new program provided the opportunity for him and others to continue playing.
Department of Defense Dependent Schools, or DODDS, started a baseball league in Europe four years ago with teams in England, Spain, Germany and Italy. Patch High is part of that league and its program is run by Kelly Measells, a social worker by trade who works as a government service employee for the Army. His son Dylan is entering his senior season and hopes to follow in Cohoes' footsteps.
The DODDS program creates a league for its schools across Europe. During the regular season, which runs from early March to the end of May, the schools play regionally. Patch plays other DODD schools in Germany and even will match up with German schools in an overseas version of interleague play.
"We're not the biggest school, about 800 kids, but it's a baseball hotbed," Kelly Measells said.
Players from Patch were part of a team that won Pony Europe Championships and made it to the Colt World Series for Pony Baseball in the summer of 2011. They also played in an AAU tournament in Fort Myers, Fla., where they placed fourth out of 20 teams, losing to eventual champion East Cobb.
Last spring, Patch beat Ramstein High to win its second straight European League championship. Cohoes was named MVP of the tournament and delivered the game-winning RBI with a single—and that was after sitting out most of the season with a leg injury. The only games he played were in the playoffs.
Continuing a baseball career after high school is hard enough on its own, but when you add in being a part of a military family and living overseas, it seems impossible. Dylan Measells has never attended school in the U.S. When he heads to college in the fall it will be his first extended living on American soil. If that's not enough of a challenge, try convincing a college that you can play well enough to contribute.
Military families move frequently, with the average time spent in Stuttgart being about three years, making consistency difficult and leaving less opportunity for typical instruction.
"They're not set up to support youth," Kelly Measells said. "They do their best, but it's hard. Patch has four installations and there isn't a gym for teens. We have to use the facilities we can find."
Time is limited as well. With no lights, the players are off the field by 5:30 p.m. Weather can also be a challenge, with average highs in the 50s in April and low 60s in May.
"You just have to load up on Under Armour and head out there," Dylan Measells said.
Getting noticed is equally challenging. Most colleges do their recruiting in the summer, and participating in showcases and tournaments is expensive for those living abroad. Even when they get here, they're unknowns.
"It's incredibly hard on a kid," Chris Cohoes said. "You have to get them to the U.S. to get to a showcase, and then no one knows who you are anyway."
Measells and his teammates still have their dreams of continuing to play baseball, and they hope that Cohoes' success provides more opportunities.
"It gives you hope," Measells said of seeing his teammate being drafted. "You know you're not that far behind. You're right there."
As for Coach Measells and Chris Cohoes, they don't intend to stop doing what they can to help. Cohoes is leaving Stuttgart in July. Measells will join his wife in San Antonio once Dylan graduates from Patch. However, the fathers are still working with scouts to set up workouts and camps for kids going through the same experiences as their sons.
Their might not be another Cavan Cohoes for a while, but the kids interested in the sport will get more instruction and, in theory, a better chance at continuing their careers.
Cavan's future is clear for now. He will report to spring training and begin his professional career. Dylan's is a little more cloudy when it comes to baseball, but he is set on attending Texas State in the fall and hopes to play baseball there.
These two families may be back stateside soon, but there is hope their vision and work will leave a lasting impression.
"I've seen some tremendous athletes follow their families," Kelly Measells said. "We just want to try to give them access. We want the kids to be competitive when they return to the U.S."