Blue Jays Believe Connor Cooke Could Be A Steal
Thanks to a bump in velocity, righthander Connor Cooke began his sophomore year as Louisiana-Lafayette’s closer. The in-season growth of his changeup pushed him into the rotation.
Then, just as he was set to make his first collegiate start, the pandemic hit and sent everyone home.
“I was ready to go, for sure, but things happen,” he said.
There was no stopping Cookie in 2021, when he logged 79.2 innings over 18 games, 12 of them starts, while posting a 2.03 ERA with 90 strikeouts against 37 walks.
The Blue Jays drafted him in the 10th round, and he’s done nothing but impress since signing. He had some eye-popping bullpens and live batting practices early in spring training.
He touched 98 mph in one and sat 96-97 in another, prompting some around the club to describe him as a deep sleeper.
Cooke has also added a slider, giving him a full four-pitch repertoire.
"My junior year was the first full year that I just I could honestly say I really I got after it and I actually had really had a good year,” Cooke said. “Of course it's every kid's dream to play professional baseball.
"Once I started getting better as a pitcher and started understanding how to pitch—and those aspects of the game—that helped me.”
He’ll likely carry those lessons into a rotation spot with Low-A Dunedin this season after five relief appearances in his pro debut last year. Though he sat low 90s and could go get 95 mph in college, the Blue Jays saw gains in shorter stints and are now watching him hold the extra velo longer.
“Credit to him, what he's doing right now stands out. It's impressive,” Blue Jays farm director Joe Sclafani said. “He's super athletic. He's probably one of, if not the most athletic guy from that draft class last year . . .
"His routines have been nails. He had a good offseason. He looks fantastic, (and) his arm is electric.”