Auburn, Ala.--Auburn senior first baseman Garrett Cooper wasn't drafted following his junior season with the Tigers and was determined to change that as a senior.
Gaining nearly 20 pounds of muscle and coming back a more mature hitter, Cooper led the Auburn Tigers in hitting with a .354 average, seven home runs, and 37 RBI. That was enough to show the Milwaukee Brewers he was worth of a sixth-round selection in the MLB Draft on Friday.
He was the first of two Auburn players selected on day two of the draft as junior pitcher Conner Kendrick was taken in the ninth round (284 overall) by the New York Yankees.
"No words can describe this feeling," Cooper tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I sat all week and I talked with the Royals and Phillies this morning. They were talking about drafting me, but all of the sudden out of nowhere the Brewers drafted me in the sixth round. There is no better feeling than putting in all the hard work for the last four years and see it actually happen. I never thought this day would come. Coming to Auburn was a great choice and now the benefits are showing of me getting drafted in the sixth round."
Taken in the sixth round with the #182 pick overall, Cooper became the fifth Auburn player taken by the franchise in draft history and the first Tigers' player off the board this year. That's a far cry from being undrafted following his junior season, something that was used as motivation for Cooper in 2013.
"It's probably the greatest feeling I have had my whole life," Cooper says. "Not being drafted last year put a little damper on me and how my junior season ended. I got hurt and missed the last 12 or 13 games of my junior year and the scouts got a little scared off.
"I made a pact with myself to come back stronger and I did. I gained 15-20 pounds through the summer and fall and I think it showed batting over .350 and hitting a few more bombs. It was a great senior season for myself, but there was a sour note not making regionals. Auburn is going to come back with a new head coach next year and hopefully they'll make regionals and get to the College World Series next year. It was a great two years here and I'm glad it ended like this being drafted in the sixth round."
For Kendrick his pick comes on the heels of a solid junior season after transferring in from junior college. Making 19 appearances with nine starts, Kendrick was 5-3 with a 2.13 ERA in 80 1/3 innings pitched. He allowed a batting average of .259 and struck out 75 while walking just 29 hitters.
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