MOSES LAKE — Just the fact that it took an extra game to decide both the National League Central and West Divisions, is a pretty good indicator this year’s Major League Baseball postseason will be something to remember.
The Columbia Basin Herald got in touch with Moses Lake High School and Columbia Basin River Dogs star Jason Cooper, who is currently doing advance work on Atlanta as a special assignment scout for the Chicago Cubs.
“It’s amazing how much was on the line moving into the last game of the regular season, and it’s been a lot of fun to watch,” said Cooper, who went No. 63 in the 1999 MLB Draft out of Moses Lake High School. “I can’t even make any set travel plans, because homefield advantage is still TBD. I’ve got hotels all over the place and no flights booked as of yet.”
With the Cubs 3-1 loss to the Brewers and the Rockie’s 5-2 loss to the Dodgers on Monday, Chicago will host Colorado in the National League wild-card round. Either way, Cooper, who has been a special assignment scout with the Cubs since 2015, will be out front helping the club prepare.
In addition to his duties of evaluating the organization’s major and minor league players, and scouting potential prospects in the Asian leagues, Cooper helps gather the intel on upcoming opponents.
This is his take on the Cubs: “We’ve got a strong club, an experienced club, but are still waiting for the individual aspects to all come together at the same time,” said Cooper, who played in both the Rose Bowl and a Super Region while at Stanford.
“Cole Hamels, who has carried us since the trade deadline, Jesse Chavez has been a jack of all trades, Javy Baez up for MVP consideration who has been fantastic on both sides of the ball. Having Kris Bryant back and the versatility within the lineup and on defense that has been such a separator over the last few years as well. So there’s still a lot to be excited about even though they’re not at full strength or playing their best baseball … yet.”
Cooper, who was a preseason All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball prior to his senior season at Moses Lake put up incredible numbers as a Chief, highlighted by a junior season when he hit .609 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI to win triple crown honors for the state of Washington.
Cooper’s take on the Rockies: “Their momentum toward the end of the season and confidence will be a scary combination for anyone who plays them,” Cooper said. “Colorado is a team that boasts one of the stronger offenses in the game in my opinion and the best third baseman around in Nolan Arenado,” Cooper said. “The difference I think for them this year in stretching their win total and day-to-day consistency has been the emergence of young starters Kyle Freeland and German Marquez. Counting Tyler Anderson, they have five guys who are all capable of throwing 200 innings and dominating within performances. I think now they finally feel like they belong in the World Series conversation.”
Cooper’s take on the Red Sox: “Despite the Cubs World Series win being a great pick up for baseball in 2016, it would be overshadowed by a Cubs-Red Sox WS this year. I would love to see that,” he said. “The history of the clubs, the ballparks, the passion of the fans in those cities. Theo Epstein and his impact on both franchises as he moves closer to a Hall of Fame legacy. It would be a series for the ages.”