Virus Brings Change And Donlin Staying Close To Home


Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Michigan Senior Writer

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Virus Brings Change And Donlin Staying Close To Home

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Cooper Donlin

Class of 2020 / OF

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2020
  • Primary Position: OF
    Secondary Position: LHP
  • High School: Detroit Catholic Central
    State: MI
  • Summer Team: Arsenal
  • Height: 6-1
    Weight: 180lbs
  • Bat/Throw: L/L

Statistics

Pitching
83
Max FB
(02/17/19)
81 - 83
FB
(02/17/19)
71 - 73
CB
74 - 77
CH
(06/25/19)
Pitching
Max FB
83
FB
80 - 83
CB
68 - 69
CH
74 - 77
Pitching
Max FB
83
FB
81 - 83
CB
69 - 70
CH
71 - 72
Position
6.79
60-yard
(03/07/20)
88
OF Velo
(06/25/19)
90
Exit Velo
(02/17/19)
4.20
H-1st
Position
60-yard
6.79
OF Velo
86
Exit Velo
88
Position
OF Velo
84
H-1st
4.29
Exit Velo
90
Position
60-yard
7.04
OF Velo
78
Exit Velo
85

Virus Brings Change And Donlin Staying Close To Home

PLYMOUTH - COVID-19 continues to impact life in different ways.

Cooper Donlin, who committed to Mesa Community College in Arizona last fall, has found that out.

“After one of my baseball games I got a call from the head coach at Mesa,” Donlin reflected back to mid-June. “I thought it was about housing, but he said COVID is really bad there.”

The recent surge of coronavirus in the western state brought about changes, including the cancellation of the 2021 JUCO baseball season.

“He said if I needed a place to go he could be a reference for me,” the recent graduate of Detroit Catholic Central explained. “He said if I can’t find a fit I could come there next year.”

The mind would not stop wondering what is next.

“I was supposed to leave in 30 days,” Donlin noted. “So on my way home from the tournament I was playing in in Ohio I was emailing coaches.”

Enter Oakland and new head coach Jordan Banfield.

“I reached out and said that I decommitted and he said he wanted a video,” the 28th-ranked 2020 in Michigan said. “I sent a video and he really liked me. The next day I threw 88 off the mound at a tournament in Ohio and then he was very interested.”

Ironically, pitching was not part of the equation at Mesa.

“I was only going to be an outfielder there,” noted the seventh-rated 2020 outfielder in the state. “They have a bunch of pitchers throwing in the mid-90s at Mesa so I wasn’t looking at doing that.”

But Mesa had its advantages when Donlin first committed.

“They get a lot of guys to big Division I schools and they get to Junction a lot for the national championship,” Donlin pointed out about the D-II junior college with four national championships along with a runners-up finish in 2019. “They have 30 Golden Glovers and there’s also year-round training.”

However, no 2021 baseball season at Mesa left Donlin scrambling.

“I’d never talked to Oakland until three days ago,” related Donlin, who also had interest in his short time decommitted from Western Carolina, Michigan State and Eastern Michigan.

The decision to choose Oakland came quickly.

“They play really good competition and it’s a good school,” Donlin noted about the Horizon League college. “I’ve got a lot of friends on the team and being close to home is a benefit, my parents can come watch me play.

“As for the weather, I’m used to the Michigan climate. It’s also a much bigger school so that’s a benefit.”

The 6-1 180-pound southpaw was impressed with the new head coach at Oakland.

“He was really honest, that’s the biggest thing,” Donlin explained about Banfield, who was the associate head coach at Akron prior to taking over the program at Oakland. “He’s younger, so maybe he’s more relatable. I can see he really wants to turn it around and really wants to win and I want that, too.”

Donlin feels he has a lot to bring to the Oakland program.

“I think I can make a big impact,” Donlin said. “I’ve been told I’m the best ‘team’ player. Everybody likes to be around me … and I like to win. I hold players accountable and think I can be a leader on this team and help win something big.”

Doing it as a two-way player adds to the joy of playing at Oakland for the left-handed hitting Donlin, who plans to major in business.

“I’m really excited about that,” Donlin said of the possibility to both hit and pitch at Oakland. “He likes me for my hitting and likes my swing and that I’m athletic and fast. But I can pitch, too. That’s a bonus.”

A boost in velocity has helped the cause when it comes to getting on the mound.

“Last year I was 83-84 and couldn’t get over that hump,” Donlin explained. “But this offseason I touched 87. I really focused on that and was happy to get on the mound and throw that.”

What a difference a year has made for Donlin, who went to Canton High School prior to a changeover to Detroit Catholic Central.

“I was a little nervous,” Donlin admitted after hearing from Mesa about the cancellation of the 2021 season. “I was scared not having a school I thought I’d enjoy playing at. I knew I’d have some offers from smaller schools, but was worried the bigger schools would have full rosters.”

Fortunately, less than an hour away from his Plymouth home Oakland became a perfect fit.