Clemson bound Matt Cooper blossoms into pro prospect

NORFOLK (WAVY) – Tim Lavigne had one way to describe his starting catcher…”dangerous.

“He’s who the other team is worried about when we play,” said the head coach at Norfolk Academy.

Matt Cooper has been a varsity player for the Bulldogs since his eighth-grade year. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound catcher has blossomed into a pro prospect that major league scouts have had their eye on. “They (scouts) see me as a catcher playing at the next level,” said Cooper.

Verbally committed to play at Clemson University, Cooper has remarkable speed on the base path, considering his size. Not so surprising is the power he shows with a bat in his hand.

“He’s hit cars in practice plenty of times,” said Lavigne.

Norfolk Academy’s home field lies just off Northampton Blvd., with a line of trees separating the outfield wall and normally-busy road. Not even the trees can shield passer-by from Cooper, who smashed a three-run home run over the tops of the trees against Nansemond-Suffolk Academy earlier this week. “The ball he hit (the other  day) was by far the farthest ball I’ve seen him hit. It probably was on the other side of the median,” said Lavigne.

As complete a player as Cooper is, it would not be surprising to hear his name called in the upcoming Major League Baseball draft. Even if he hears it, Cooper plans on hitting a baseball and the books in college. “I’m pretty set on getting a college education and going to play for coach Monte Lee,” said Cooper, who credits his parents for instilling the drive to pursue an education.

Hampton Roads knows all too well the names David Wright, Michael Cuddyer, Justin and Melvin Upton, all of whom have risen from youth leagues in Chesapeake to Major League stardom. Whether Cooper leaves early to pursue his pro career, his hometown may very-well soon learn his last name.