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NAME: Cooper Hjerpe
SCHOOL: Oregon State
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6’3″, 200 lbs
D.O.B.: March 16, 2001
PREVIOUSLY DRAFTED: Undrafted
As a senior, Cooper Hjerpe put up great numbers for Woodland High School. His outstanding senior season didn’t lead to him getting drafted however, so the Californian took his talents to Corvallis to play for the Beavers. Since journeying to campus, Hjerpe has only seen his draft prospects rise.
In the pandemic shortened 2020 season, Hjerpe was a reliever and pitched a grand total of 12 innings with a 5.25 ERA. 2021 saw him start 16 of 17 games, throwing 77 total innings (second highest on the team) with a 4.21 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP, walked 27 batters, struck out 98, and had a .223 Batting Average Against. The 2022 season saw the 6’3″ lefty take a step forward, starting 17 of 18 games, throwing a team leading 103.1 innings with a 2.53 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP, walked 23 batters, struck out 161, and had a .180 Batting Average Against.
Hjerpe’s ascension in 2022 saw him take home a laundry list of awards and honors, all of which can be found here. Highlighting some notable awards; was named to Baseball America’s College All American First Team this season, was a 2022 Golden Spikes Award Finalist, was named Perfect Game’s 2022 National Pitcher of the Year, and was named All-Pac-12 First Team.
When the 2021 summer ball showcase circuit wrapped up, Hjerpe wasn’t initially named to Baseball America’s college prospect list ahead of the 2022 draft. Once the 2022 college season got underway and the Californian started excelling, he ended up checking in as the 18th ranked prospect by ESPN, 20th by Prospects Live, 32nd by Baseball America, 54th by The Athletic, and 34th by MLB Pipeline.
Clocking in at 6’3″, 200 lbs, Hjerpe is noted for having a unique release height (under five feet, ranging between 52-54 inches per Baseball America) and crossbody delivery from a sidearm slot which causes his stuff to play up. However the delivery may give some teams pause and could lead them to believe his future is out of the bullpen. Baseball America has also noted that the model-driven teams are likely the highest on the lefty thrower due to his performance and pitch data.
On the mound, Hjerpe unleashes a fastball, slider/curve, and changeup combination. The fastball peaks around 94-95 and usually sits in the low 90s, while he can vary the speed and shape of the breaking ball. Keith Law has noted that his fastball is “ordinary (88-93)”, with fears that it will go backwards once he has to start every fifth day. The slower breaking ball sits in the mid 70s and is more of a sweeping pitch whereas the faster breaking pitch can touch around 80 and features tighter spin. The changeup sits in the upper 70s and is viewed to be above average, featuring enough difference in velocity from the fastball.
Hjerpe demonstrates above average control and command on the mound. The southpaw was fantastic at limiting walks in 2022 as evidenced by his 7:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
WHY WOULD THE WHITE SOX DRAFT COOPER HJERPE?
Why would the White Sox considering drafting Cooper Hjerpe you ask? For one, the lack of pitching depth (especially in the upper minors) has been made quite apparent this year.
The former Beaver would also instantly become the top left handed pitcher in the system. While Hjerpe isn’t going to blow anyone away with premium velocity, he has the profile to fit in nicely as a mid-to-back end rotation starter.
Hypothetically speaking, if the White Sox had a need out of the bullpen, it’s believed that the Californian could be a quick mover. However, Hjerpe does have the innings base to further build up as a starter through the minors, which would most likely be the preferred development route.
As of this moment, the mocks are generally pegging Hjerpe to go in the back third of the first round.
In the most recent MLB Pipeline mock, Jim Callis has Hjerpe going to the Mariners with the 21st pick, but is linked as early as pick 13 to the Angels. Baseball America pegged the lefty starter to the Brewers at pick 27 while Kiley McDaniel of ESPN linked the OSU product to the Athletics at pick 19.
Prospects Live has tied the southpaw to the Guardians at pick 16, with Keith Law of The Athletic also pegging him to the Brewers at pick 27, but did mention him as a potential option for the White Sox at pick 26.
Considering the college pitching class was decimated by injuries this season, Hjerpe does have the potential to be one of the first college arms selected. Using the mocks as a guide, the southpaw does seem like he could be available to the White Sox at pick 26 if they so choose to attack a system weakness with their first round selection.
Photo credit: Karl Maasdam