He'd hit 26 home runs in college the previous year. But, by July 1987, playing at single-A Reno, he'd hit only five.
"Obviously, the organization didn't draft me to hit singles," Cooper told The Gazette-Journal. "I'm just trying to see the ball better."
Cooper ended up hitting 11 total home runs that year. He went on to play in five more seasons after that, but he wouldn't hit more in one campaign. He also never saw the majors.
Cooper's career began in 1986, taken by the Padres in the fifth round of the draft out of Georgia Southern University.
At Georgia Southern, Cooper knocked in 94 runs to go along with his 26 home runs. His 94 RBIs led the nation that year. He also received an invite to try out for Team USA.
He made the school's wall of fame in 2009. He recounted to the school then how he went through a mini-slump and called home to his father. He had a dead bat and needed a new one.
"So I go and buy a bat and then proceed to hit six home runs the next two days," Cooper recalled to the school's site. "That was one of the million memories that you take with you and live the rest of your life thinking back on."
Cooper started with the Padres at short-season Spokane. He hit .283 in 72 games. He also hit four home runs and knocked in 50.
He moved to Reno for 1987 and hit .269 on the year before moving to AA Wichita in 1988. He hit .266 there over 99 games, with seven home runs.
Cooper made AAA Las Vegas for half of 1989. In 53 games there, he hit .249, with five home runs. He played the other half of the year back at Wichita.
Cooper then moved from the Padres to the Brewers systems. He played 1990 and 1991 at AA El Paso. He hit .282 in 1990, with 11 home runs. His fifth home run of 1990 came in May, against his old team, Wichita, according to The El Paso Times.
"Moving to a new team and playing in front of new fans had put some pressure on me," Cooper told The Times. "I guess I'm starting to settle down."
Cooper only saw 39 games in 1991 for El Paso. He then played 23 more for the Indians in 1992 at AA Canton-Akron to end his career.
More recently, Cooper is listed in 2019 as head coach for Wave Baseball's 12U team in northwest Florida and as Wave's director of player development.
- Reno Gazette-Journal, July 12, 1987: Reno batter searches for home run swing
- El Paso Times, May 8, 1990: Diablos take control of 1st place
- GSEagles.com, Feb, 21, 2009: Three inducted into Baseball Wall of Fame
Made the Majors:1,116-36.8%
Never Made Majors:1,919-63.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 466
10+ Seasons in the Minors:276