TORONTO – Cooper Davis knows better than almost anyone just what the Tournament 12 experience can provide.
Back for his fourth year in the showcase’s fourth year of existence, the 17-year-old Ontario Blue Jays outfielder finished his final T12 run on Sunday with the Ontario Green team, and he couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities he’s had at Rogers Centre.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “It’s crazy looking back and thinking that I was 14 years old when I was first here. Everything [tournament commissioner and Hall of Fame second baseman] Robbie Alomar has done for me and everybody at Tournament 12 has been amazing.
“For a guy to come back and give to a community like that, and set up an event that really gives us Canadian players a jump at what Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report are doing [on the showcase circuit] is special. It really gives us a head start, because we get to see what it’s about.
“I got to see it when I was 14, before anybody else could. So for me and Adam [Hall, the second of only two four-year participants], it was huge for us, as we were getting into the scouting world.”
Now graduated from Tournament 12, Davis ranks his playing time at Rogers Centre right up at the top of his list of great baseball experiences, alongside his trip to showcase his skills at the home of the Boston Red Sox.
“I got to play at Fenway Park too and that was pretty cool,” he said. “When I was playing at Fenway, they had tours going on and when I was in the outfield, I could hear from the mics they were using, so I know everything about Fenway now. Basically, if baseball doesn’t work out I’m going to be running tours at Fenway.
“So those two experiences have been the best. It’s different than playing in a big showcase or a world tournament. The worlds were amazing, but then you get to come here and say, Mike Trout played centre field here, or David Ortiz stood in that same box a week ago. It’s so cool to be able to play in the exact same spot as major leaguers do.”
Finally entering his draft year after multiple seasons of showcases, tours with the Ontario Blue Jays and trips with the Canadian Junior National team, the Vanderbilt University commit is excited for what the future has in store, and knows that he can use the same tools that have provided excitement throughout his high school years as he forges forward.
“I try to bring as much electricity as I can,” Davis said. “That’s what I’ve really learned, working with guys like [former Blue Jays outfielders] Lloyd Moseby and Devon White here at T12, asking them how they do it every day.
“When you’re Canadian and up here you play twice a week, it’s easy to come out every single day with tons of energy because you’re only playing twice a week, but to learn how to do it for 162 games a year, I’ve definitely been picking their brain about that, but the biggest thing I need to bring is my electricity.”
In his squad’s final game of the tournament on Sunday, Davis led his team in the contest with a single, a double, a walk, two stolen bases, two runs scored, and he drove in a run. He also showed game-changing speed in centre field, chasing down balls that looked like definite extra bases for the opposition.
“Every day he brings energy, excitement, and if he swings the bat like he did [Sunday], definitely plus offensive tools,” said Mike Steed, coaching Davis with both Ontario Green and the OBJ program. “He has a ton of energy at the top of the lineup and for me personally, that’s what every guy is looking for. Then he does what he does in centre field and he makes it easy on the pitchers when he can go run down balls left and right.”
Steed has seen firsthand just how much progress Davis has made since his first venture at the inaugural Tournament 12, taking the field at just 14 years old with players four years older than he was, and the coach is looking forward to watching more of the same as his player continues his career.
“He’s grown tremendously,” Steed said. “He’s grown more so as a person, maturity-wise he’s just grown up. The game has always been there for him athletically, but now that he’s maturing and figuring out the mental part of it, he understands it. And his preparation, you can see him, he slows the game down. Everybody says to do that but if you watch him, he actually does it.”