James Cooper (minors10)
James Darrell Cooper
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 185 lb.
- School Grambling State University
James Cooper played 3 years in the minors then became a college head coach at age 27.
As a sophomore at Grambling State University, Cooper hit .376, then .386 in 2003 as a junior. His senior year, he batted .393, third in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. His 9 triples led the SWAC and tied Trevor Crowe, Brett Gardner and one other player for third in NCAA Division I. He made All-SWAC as an outfielder.
Cooper then was picked by the Houston Astros in the 33rd round of the 2004 amateur draft. He hit .232/.333/.304 for the '04 Tri-City ValleyCats but showed superb defensive skills, with 7 outfield assists, 3 double plays and just one error in 40 games. He tied for the New York-Penn League lead in double plays by an outfielder.
Back with the ValleyCats in 2005, Cooper hit .260/.348/.370. He tied Gardner for the best fielding percentage (1.000) of any NYPL outfielder. Let go by Houston, he signed with the independent Sussex Skyhawks and batted .272/.366/.388 in 2006 with 22 steals in 25 tries.
After a stint as assistant coach under Barret Rey at his alma mater, he was promoted to head coach when he was just 27 years old.