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Cox eyes a trip to Omaha

Jason Starr

The Major League Baseball draft has once again passed Kris Cox by. For several reasons, though, being overlooked was easier this year on the Summit High School graduate.

First of all, the draft, which ended Wednesday, is not first and foremost on Cox’s mind today. Stanford is.

Cox is a senior outfielder for the University of Southern California, and the Trojans need to beat Stanford in a weekend series to advance to the College World Series.

Secondly, even without being picked in the draft, Cox will play professionally next year. He has a minor league offer on the table from the independent Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Northern League, and he still may get free agent offers from other organizations.

Things would not be much different if he were picked in the draft.

College seniors don’t get offered the same money that juniors or high schoolers do because their bargaining leverage is gone. So whether it’s a free agent contract or a draft signing, it makes little difference to Cox.

“The most important thing right now is winning,” Cox said. “And if I play well, things will take care of themselves. I’m trying to keep (the future) in the back of my mind. I know I’ll play pro ball.”

Cox transferred from the University of Mississippi after his junior year to finish his college career at USC. Statistically, he played better at Ole Miss. Cox has hit .244 with the Trojans this year and started about one-third of the team’s games. A midseason hitting slump cost him some playing time.

“They’re so deep,” explained Cox’s father Bob, “If you hiccup, you might not get back in the lineup. The guys that replaced him got hot.”

Cox hopes to see some time this weekend against Stanford, to which the Trojans have lost five of six games this season. The opportunity to play in the College World Series, which the Trojans haven’t yet secured, and being a part of one of the perennially best college teams in the country has made the transfer worthwhile, slump or no slump.

“I’m happy with the move,” Cox said. “I’m excited where this team is going. We have a shot to go to Omaha (site of the World Series), and it’s always been my dream in college to play in the College World Series.”

Teams can’t talk to Cox as a free agent until USC is done for the season. That could be this weekend; it could be June 22 after the College World Series final.

Whatever happens, having the Winnipeg offer on the table is a good backup for Cox. His father, after all, is a Canadian citizen, and Kris played last year for the Canadian National Team. Also, several players have gone through Winnipeg on their way to the Major Leagues.

Loptien honored as player, student

Former Summit High baseball player Matt Loptien earned Academic All-Iowa Conference honors this spring for his work on the Cornell College (Mount Vernon, Iowa) baseball team and in the classroom. Loptien has played for Cornell for three years, and earned the academic recognition for a 3.5-or-higher grade point average as a biochemistry/molecular biology major.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at jstarr@summitdaily.com.


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