SENATOBIA, Miss. — Baseball is a specialty for the Pratt family and top MLB prospect Cooper Pratt is blazing his own path in the sport.
Growing up, Pratt was surrounded by competitive minds, including his uncles Trent and Scott Pratt, who played baseball at Auburn, his father Russell, who played at Utah, his brother Ozzie, who currently plays at BYU and his mother Heidi, who was an All-American softball player at Nova Southeastern University. Being around those types of minds has helped Cooper become the top high school baseball player in Mississippi, but it also can raise expectations.
“It’s very competitive between me and my brothers, but I haven’t really felt the pressure to try and live up to them,” Cooper said. “It’s more competitive between my brothers and seeing other players [compete]; I want to be better. But I never felt like I had to live up to any expectations.”
Cooper’s family has a long history of competing at the collegiate level, and it could be easy to see that he would struggle with being the next member to compete there. Still, Cooper views it as a blessing rather than a hindrance.
“My family is a big baseball family,” Cooper said. “It [baseball] wasn’t forced upon me by any means, but it was like, ‘Okay, this is what I’m going to do,’ from an early age, and me and all my brothers fell in love with baseball, and my parents helped coach us, and it’s been a blessing.”
Cooper’s skills on the diamond continued to flourish, and that was highlighted last season when he helped Magnolia Heights to a 33-5 record and won the Class 5A state title in 2022. He was also named Class 5A MAIS Player of the Year, but winning those awards can only mean so much to a player like Cooper, who is eager to improve daily.
— ✭Five Tool Texas✭ (@FiveToolTexas) March 2, 2023
“Every year, people improve,” Cooper said. “If you’re not getting better, people will pass you up. I try to get better every day, and when looking back on past years, I see the improvement I’ve made. It’s cool to see how much you’ve grown.”
As his skills grew, others around the sport noticed, and his name rose on draft boards. However, Cooper isn’t focusing on any of that.
“When they [rankings] first started coming out, I thought it was pretty cool,” Cooper said. “I didn’t play well after seeing them, so I forgot all about that and stopped caring about all those things and what everyone said, and I started to play well again. I started to have fun and not focus on the things you can’t control.”
Cooper Pratt ('23, MS) barrels this ball 101 mph off the bat for a 2-run double to LF. Possesses quick bat speed w/ advanced feel for the barrel. #OleMiss commit #PGAAC @PG_DeepSouth pic.twitter.com/IvY6nf7Pe3
— Dick’s Sporting Goods All-American Classic (@PGAllAmerican) August 29, 2022
Having that mindset helped Cooper’s play tremendously, and, in turn, it helped him earn offers from top baseball programs like Ole Miss, to which he’s now committed.
“It’s close to home; my parents can come watch, and they’re known to be a top program every year,” Cooper said. “It’s been a dream come true to be able to say I committed to Ole Miss, and now I have the opportunity to play there next year, and I’m looking forward to it.”
While there were other offers from top programs, Cooper knew he’d always wear the Rebels jersey.
“Once I got the offer, I committed that next week,” Cooper said. “I probably would’ve ended up committing to Ole Miss sooner or later, so there was no reason to wait.”
— Yalobusha Giants / BPA Mississippi (@GIANTSYALOBUSHA) December 29, 2022
Cooper is now in the midst of his final prep season, and there will be a lot of eyes on him, but one thing he is making sure everyone sees is how consistent he is and proving he can play at a high level.
“I try to be as consistent as possible,” Cooper said. “I don’t try to hit home runs, I don’t really play the game with flair, it’s routine, and I try to make the game look easy, and if I can do that and people notice that, it’s a win for me.”
Looking up to players like Brandon Crawford and Troy Tulowitzki has helped Cooper realize that’s the way he wanted to carry himself.
“I really like watching Brandon Crawford,” Cooper said. “I don’t know him, but I like the way he plays. I try and base my game around him and Troy Tulowitzki. I like the way Brandon Crawford plays defense, and I’ve been watching him for a while; I really like him.”
There will be plenty of challenging and great moments ahead for Cooper and his career, but whatever happens, he will be on the field refining his skill set and playing the game he’s fallen in love with.
“Baseball has always been there for me,” Cooper said. “It’s something to do, and I love it; I go hit every night, and hours feel like minutes, and I’m blessed to be able to play this game because a lot of people can’t, and it’s been instilled through my parents and brothers, so it’s always been there, and I can’t imagine my life without it.”