If the last couple of months are any indication, then the New York Mets’ philosophy is to stockpile young flamethrowers with the potential to contribute at the big league level in the future. In their first ten picks in the 2017 MLB Draft, the organization selected seven pitchers, including Trey Cobb, a reliever out of Oklahoma State taken in the eighth round, who’s allowed just two runs in his first 14.1 innings with the Brooklyn Cyclones.
“Being in this city is unbelievable. Obviously, the Mets are four or five stops away (from the Cyclones),” Cobb said. “You see all of these other relief pitchers getting drafted and getting traded, and it’s one of those things where you can look at where the team needs things, and if I can be what they need, I can climb the ladder. It’s about having confidence and not wanting others to fail.”
The aspiration to attend Oklahoma State formulated with Cobb during his youth as he worked diligently to have the ambition hold true. Cobb made a strong case for himself at Broken Arrow High School in his native Oklahoma where he went 11-2 with a 1.05 ERA and 87 strikeouts as a senior. His excellence on the mound prompted considerable interest from a bevy of Division I schools, but he eventually narrowed his options down to Oklahoma State and LSU.
“The old coaches at Oklahoma State didn’t recruit me. I tried everything to get recruited by going to all of the camps and the showcases. I just wanted to go to Oklahoma State, but since they didn’t recruit me, I committed to LSU. Then Josh Holliday and Rob Walton came to coach Oklahoma State, and I called Rob, and they opened a spot for me to play at my dream school.”
The benefit for Cobb joining Oklahoma State was the ability to pitch in the Big-12 against quality hitters and quickly acclimate to playing in games with a high degree of importance. From the onset, Cobb contributed mightily in the Oklahoma State bullpen, pitching in the Stillwater Regional Final in consecutive seasons and collected two saves as a sophomore. Cobb increased his innings total the following year and enjoyed his strongest season, earning an All-Big 12 honorable mention and appeared in the College World Series.
“It was a situation where I had to grow up early,” Cobb said. “If you didn’t grow up early, you were going to get beat. In college, it’s all about the good of the team, rather than the individual. If I don’t pitch well, I let everybody down in the locker. The coaching staff was able to mold me to pitch in big situations because of their great leadership.”
On the strength of his performance as a junior, the Chicago Cubs selected Cobb in the 12th round of the 2016 Draft, but he surprisingly opted not to sign and chose to return to Oklahoma State for his senior season. Cobb cited the pull to play with his teammates and coaches one last time as a reason to postpone turning pro.
“My junior season, I was able to pitch in the College World Series, which was a dream come true. I grew up a huge Cubs fan watching the games on WGN, but there was a difference of opinion regarding my health, and I fell further than I thought in the draft, so it was a tough decision. I was playing for a team I loved, and I’m glad I stayed.”
Cobb’s senior year would get off to an inauspicious start when he missed the first seven weeks of the season nursing a broken bone in his elbow, which nearly resulted in Tommy John Surgery. A return to action came in early April, as Cobb recovered in time to make 19 appearances before the draft.
“It’s really frustrating because it’s exactly what you don’t want to happen,” Cobb said. “You are excited to lead the young guys for your senior year. I broke a bone in my elbow in January and had Tommy John Surgery scheduled, but the day before the surgery, the doctor looked at the MRI one more time and decided to treat it like a broken bone instead.”
Cobb’s resurgence following his elbow injury helped boost his draft stock with the Mets taking the seasoned college product in the eighth round in June. Upon signing, he became the second member of his family to play professional baseball, following his grandfather Frank Linzy, who spent eleven seasons as a relief pitcher during the 1960s and 70s for four teams, including the San Francisco Giants. Linzy’s experience helped guide Cobb through the process of joining a pro club.
“He instilled the love of the game in me. I spent summers with him and got me my first glove. He was at every game and drove me to practices. The main thing was he didn’t want to get in the way of the coaches and their instruction, and I learned the little things about the game from him.”
Backed by a strong foundation, Cobb shined out of Cyclones’ bullpen with a stretch of eleven consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. In ten appearances he held opposing batters to a .170 average and a WHIP of 0.84, utilizing his sinker, slider, and changeup to record outs on the ground. His initial success combined with the efforts of fellow relievers, such as Cannon Chadwick helped solidify Cyclones’ pitching and provides encouragement for Mets’ brass.
“I think playing in front of the big crowds in college helped significantly,” Cobb said. “They (The Cyclones) told before we went out that we should just be ourselves and not worry about numbers and it was the first time I was able to relax. I feel like the closeness of our team also allows us to have the success and talk pitching with each other and share the same experiences.”